New Delhi, Oct. 29: The scheduled shuffle in the Congress organisation is expected to witness an unmistakable shift of power to Rahul Gandhi, though Sonia Gandhi will remain the party chief. The changes may take place after Diwali.
Sources said Rahul’s role in the party would be visibly bigger than what he could achieve in the government where the transition has to be a gradual process as such vital attributes like administrative experience and seniority cannot be overlooked.
In the organisation, Rahul is game for a complete generation shift and determined to give dynamism greater weight than experience, the sources said.
Although some of the existing office-bearers will play a role in Rahul’s system, the purge is expected to be exhaustive. The party now has 10 general secretaries, eight leaders in charge who virtually function as general secretaries and 35 secretaries. Over half of these office-bearers will be shunted out and the majority of the rest will have new assignments, the sources said.
According to the sources who wanted to remain anonymous as they are not authorised to speak on record, Rahul strongly feels he will have to be given “effective control” of the party apparatus if he has to implement his ideas and lead the future political battles. A young leader said: “Symbolic presence means little in politics. You have to send a message who is in command, who will take decisions and who you have to reach out to. It has to be now decided that Rahul is the supreme leader.”
The sources said the high command would get “a completely new face”. Over the past 10 to 12 years, most of the shuffles carried out by Sonia were cosmetic with the same set of leaders playing a game of musical chairs. Rahul intends to bring freshness in the leadership structure with vital bodies like the Congress Working Committee and the Central Election Committee also changing significantly.
The choice of state unit chiefs and spokespersons and the style of functioning at the AICC will bear Rahul’s stamp, the sources insisted.
Rahul aides conceded that the transition process would not be smooth and it would be difficult to dump the entire old guard or apply the performance benchmark while deciding their future.
One MP said: “Sonia and Rahul are very sympathetic and acknowledge that these leaders’ service and loyalty gave the family and the party so much strength. They cannot ask these leaders to pack up simply to give way to younger leaders. This can be done through persuasion, by changing roles and by creating mechanism which puts them to some use.”
Sonia has shown exceptional sensitivity towards these veterans who have been a part of the high command structure since the days of Indira Gandhi or Rajiv and tolerated them in the system despite a dominant view that some of them had outlived their utility.
She introduced new faces but moved cautiously, without making the older leaders feel slighted. While leaders like M.L. Fotedar, R.K. Dhawan, Mohsina Kidwai and Karan Singh are engaged in organisational activities, they have been retained either in the CWC or the CEC, at least as special or permanent invitees.
Rahul’s problem is that he has to deal with Sonia loyalists who are still active and have a lot of political life left in them. The group he would like to bring in is much younger and nurture a vision that is more managerial; they believe in performance-audit, give lesser importance to identity politics and rely more on data analysis than inputs from the ground.
Sonia had suggested the composition of a Congress think tank at the Burari AICC plenary, an idea that hasn’t taken shape yet. Many in the party feel Rahul may find this handy in accommodating some of the seniors in advisory roles.