New Delhi, April 11: Congress president Sonia Gandhi is “extremely upset” about the miserable plight of the party and the Union government but is unsure of the remedy after Rahul Gandhi’s best efforts failed in Uttar Pradesh, sources said.
Leaders who have met her in the last 10 days or so reveal that Sonia is “very worried” and appears to be in a “fiery mood” but is not clear about the future course of action.
“She is unhappy with lots of people and would like to make drastic changes but no one knows up to what extent she can implement her plans. The entrenched forces confuse her and create situations to perpetuate status quo,” a senior leader said.
This leader, who met Sonia recently, added: “She is pained that the government’s image is bad despite so much good work, such revolutionary welfare schemes and good economic health despite the global crisis.”
Many leaders have in the wake of the Uttar Pradesh debacle complained to her that ministers were doing little for the party and ordinary workers and she has shown appreciation for this complaint.
The party feels the Group of Ministers on media, formed in response to the perception of an acute image crisis, had addressed some areas of concern but a lot more needed to be done to fight what a young MP described as the “public relations deficiency syndrome” afflicting the government.
Many leaders have complained to Sonia against the ministers’ “arrogance” and “inaccessibility” and have demanded total overhaul of the Union cabinet if the party still nurtures hopes of a victory in 2014.
The party’s organisational health in many important states is not any less of a worry for Sonia. In Maharashtra, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has not been able to take the party machinery along while the deepening crisis in Andhra Pradesh has raised fears of doom in the state that was the engine of the Congress’s national comeback. Powerful dissidence against Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot has come as an additional burden.
In the Punjab Congress unit, a revolt-like situation is brewing against the hegemony of Amrinder Singh. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana and Maharashtra are waiting for new pradesh committee chiefs. Sources said Rahul was in favour of taking risks in order to create a new leadership but Sonia’s cautious approach has so far restrained him. Some leaders believe Sonia too is angry enough now to brush aside the advice of those who keep warning her against “adventurism”.
A decision has to be taken now as the next round of battles — elections are due in BJP-held Gujarat and Himachal — is far more difficult.
Rahul, who has suffered a severe jolt in Uttar Pradesh, cannot afford to keep off Gujarat if he has to be projected as the next prime ministerial candidate. It will be incumbent upon him to confront Narendra Modi head-on much like he took on Mayawati, although his party could not benefit from her exit.