The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Poll bugle for Rahul

New Delhi, Aug. 26: The wait for Rahul Gandhi may finally be over.

The spectre of early elections has spurred the Congress high command to revamp the party and fill the vacancies, and the Amethi MP could be part of the shuffle.

Sources said he is most likely to be inducted as a general secretary and put in charge of the party’s front organisations like the NSUI and the Youth Congress.

The revamp is expected to take place as and when the Congress papers over the differences on the nuclear deal with the Left and arrives at some kind of a truce, however transient.

There is no plan yet to assign specific states to Rahul but the young MP has taken a keen interest in the Youth Congress and the NSUI, now under the charge of labour minister Oscar Fernandes.

Congress insiders said Rahul’s “formal” induction was required for several reasons. First, it would settle the “will-he-won’t-he” question and end speculation on whether he is “truly” interested in a career in politics.

Part of the riddle had been answered by Rahul’s roadshows during the Uttar Pradesh elections, though the Congress’s pathetic showing and losses in most of the areas he toured made the doubting Thomases wonder what his “long-term” plans were.

Second, Rahul’s organisational debut is expected to pave the way for a larger role for the Congress’s “baba logs”, who have generally lain low in the hope that Rahul will make up his mind before they stepped into the larger political arena.

The efforts of Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia to carve out a turf for themselves in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh — the states to which they belong — have not yet succeeded because of faction feuds and the “resistance to change” embedded in the Congress’s DNA.

The sources said there was also the feeling that the front organisations, which produce the party’s foot soldiers, were lying dormant.

If the Congress were to seriously mobilise voters and man booths, members of the youth, student and farmers’ wings would have to be activated. But Fernandes, the sources added, is hardly the man for the job.

If things were on course and the Congress had not run into the nuke tiff with the Left, Sonia might have carried out the organisational changes at her own pace, the sources said. But not after it looked like the government would live on borrowed time.

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