New Delhi, Nov. 1: The Congress high command’s unusual decision to invite all office-bearers and lawmakers from across the country to the November 4 Delhi rally has raised expectations in the party about Rahul Gandhi’s formal anointment as Number Two.
However, uncertainties about the timing and nature of the announcement have deepened over the past two days.
The expectation that Rahul would be officially declared Number Two was strengthened when the party took another unusual decision: to hold a daylong samvad baithak on November 9 at Surajkund on Delhi’s outskirts. Many in the party felt this too could be part of the process to project Rahul.
This meeting, which is not a substitute for the brainstorming sessions the party occasionally holds, came as a surprise to most senior leaders, who admitted there had been no such plan till a couple of days ago.
The agenda of the samvad baithak, which party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi insisted was an “informal” session for discussions, will be to assess the political situation and economic challenges and take stock of how far the promises in the poll manifesto have been met.
Unlike AICC meetings or brainstorming sessions, there will be no formal resolutions at this conclave, which will be attended by working committee members as well as party cabinet ministers and ministers of state with independent charge.
Some leaders have questioned the need for such a meeting before the party reins have been handed over to Rahul.
Sources had dropped hints over the past few days that Rahul would be declared Number Two before the November 4 rally but contradictory signals have emerged since yesterday. There is a strong view in the party that both the rally and the conclave should have been held only after the organisational shuffle.
Uncertainty still appears to surround Rahul’s role as the party has not officially given out any information about his anointment. Media cell chief Dwivedi’s assertion that Rahul was already Number Two compounded the confusion.
“Those who are sleeping can be woken up, but those who pretend to be asleep can’t,” Dwivedi said. “It is for everybody to see that Rahul is Number Two in the party; there is no need to prove (it).”
However, several party leaders seemed as puzzled as the media, wondering how Rahul could officiate as Number Two without a formal arrangement.
“We all know that Rahul is Number Two,” a party senior said. “But he has not been working as Number Two — not receiving reports from the general secretaries, not taking charge of anything other than the Youth Congress and the (student wing) NSUI. Why is this line being taken to create confusion, since he has yet to be formally appointed Number Two?”
Many feel Rahul’s much-awaited anointment should not be delayed any more and a clear message should be sent out to the cadre across the country that Rahul had taken charge. These leaders argue that the announcement should be made before the Delhi rally.
They say the presence of all block and district presidents, MLAs and MPs, Union ministers, Congress chief ministers, state unit chiefs and office-bearers will make it the ideal occasion for endorsement of Rahul’s leadership.