New Delhi, March 14: Rahul Gandhi is beginning to show his tough side after his initial familiarisation exercise with central and state Congress office-bearers when he had hailed the abundance of talent and expressed his readiness to learn from senior leaders.
Sources in the party said Rahul had swiftly transformed himself into a hard taskmaster, giving a three-month deadline to Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chiefs and general secretaries “to show results” or be prepared to step aside. This new culture of close scrutiny and deadlines has struck alarm in the sluggish system where loyalty and networking were enough to remain cosily nestled in the leadership structure.
Rahul delivered the three-month perform-or-perish ultimatum again today when he met Bengal PCC president Pradip Bhattacharya, AICC general secretary minding the state, Shakeel Ahmed, legislature party leader Mohammad Sohrab and secretary R.C. Khuntia to discuss the strategy for next year’s parliamentary elections.
He warned the leaders not to reveal to the media what transpired at the meeting but it is learnt he asked them not to worry about the possibility of an alliance and focus on strengthening the organisation instead.
Bhattacharya would have faced a difficult time filling up a four-page questionnaire that he handed over to Rahul at the meeting. The questionnaire seeks details about organisational activities in the state, health of the organisational machinery, including vacancies, local issues, campaigns against the state government, strategy for the next election and other details. Although there are some active individuals in the Bengal Congress, the organisation is weak, making it difficult for the PCC to prepare an impressive report card.
Rahul has been blunt in his dealings with leaders of other states in the past few days. “Result to dikhana hoga bhaiyya. Agar nahin kar sakte to doosre ko karne do. Hamare paas bahut aadmi hain is kaam ke liye (you will have to show results, brother. If you can’t, let others do it. We have many people to do the job),” he was quoted as saying when he came across inadequate political activity.
The no-nonsense approach rattled many state chiefs who have not been allowed any scope for filibustering, blame-game or excuse-making.
After listening to them in a freewheeling interaction last month, Rahul has been now bluntly telling leaders to mind their own business instead of pointing fingers and passing blame to others.
One of those who attended his meetings in the past few days quoted Rahul as saying: “We know what is our job. We know what the ministers have to do and what the high command’s responsibility is. You tell me what you can do and what you have done.” The leader added: “He leaves no room for loose talk, he has been very strict and result-oriented.”
Rahul has reacted sharply to claims about rampant corruption in states. “Don’t tell me about the loot by ministers or officials. Tell me what have you done to fight it. How many ministers you forced to resign? What campaign, demonstrations have you held against the governments of rival parties?” another leader quoted him as saying.
He has also discouraged the tendency to speak against seniors, party chief ministers and general secretaries, arguing the high command can only support the local infrastructure which has to fight every single battle in each constituency.
Rahul was learnt to have insisted on the approach at today’s meeting too, asking the Bengal leaders to reach out to the masses, hold meetings at block and district levels, create booth committees and identify specific problems agitating the people.
State leaders hailed Rahul’s strong push. “We hope the go-slow and talk-shop culture will end now. We have to speed up our preparations and fight our heart out if we intend to do well in the next election,” one leader said over phone from Calcutta.