Sonia Gandhi's Ill Health Delays Congress Revamp
NEW DELHI: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's elevation, an expected AICC reshuffle and a AICC session have all been placed on hold after Congress President Sonia Gandhi fell ill during her roadshow in Varanasi. The party, except for scheduled press conference and statements, has fallen silent with plans for larger meetings in the run up the Uttar Pradesh elections now waiting for Sonia Gandhi’s recovery.
"Rahul Gandhi's elevation, AICC reshuffle cannot take place until Sonia Gandhi recovers," said a senior AICC official. According to the sources, the Congress chief has been advised rest for six weeks.This means the status quo in the organisation could remain till at least mid September.
The Congress, organisationally, has not been able to send out a strong message with the younger leade rs remaining marginalised, and the old factions still calling the shots. The only notable changes Sonia Gandhi has made in the organisation is, bringing back old hands like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kamal Nath as AICC general secretaries, and giving former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit a role as the chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh.
While the party president continues to rely on the old guard to run the party, Rahul Gandhi loyalists still a little on the periphery remain confident that a change of guard is inevitable, and will happen soon. There was visible restlessness when election strategic Prashant Kishor insisted that the Congress cash in on Priyanka Vadra’s charism by bringing her in as a star campaigner for the UP polls. However, the unease seems to have settled as Rahul Gandhi remains the declared successor to his mother. "Rahul Gandhi is a de facto Congress chief ," Jairam Ramesh said some time back. An AICC official said that there was nothing wrong in having more than two centres of power, pointing out that the Congress has been used to this since the emergence of Sanjay Gandhi during and after the Emergency. Rajiv Gandhi succeeded him as a power centre, and went on to become the Prime Minister. Rahul Gandhi, the sources pointed out, is playing his father’s role now.
While Rahul and Priyanka loyalist Randeep Surjewala has been controlling the AICC's communication department, another loyalist C P Joshi is the AICC general secretary in-charge of Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. General secretary Madhusudan Mistry who too was considered to be Rahul Gandhi's inner circle,is now confined to the central election committee stripped of the UP charge. Rest of the general secretaries groomed by Sonia Gandhi,want to be in Rahul Gandhi's team.
Although Sonia Gandhi delayed the AICC reshuffle,she has started accommodating Rahul confidantes at the PCC level.Sachin Pilot (Rajasthan PCC chief),Ashok Tanwar (Haryana PCC chief),Raj Babbar (UP chief), V M Sudheeran (Kerala chief),Ajay Maken (Delhi chief),Dinesh Gundu Rao (working president Karnataka PCC) are some of them.