The Telegraph
Thursday , August 21 , 2014
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Whiff of ‘plot’ in chorus for Priyanka
Finger at leaders wary of Rahul

New Delhi, Aug. 20: The growing demand for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in the Congress is being viewed as a conspiracy by a section of top leaders who are uncomfortable working with Rahul Gandhi.

Senior leaders have told The Telegraph in informal conversations that the people encouraging the “Bring-Priyanka” chorus among party workers have been doing so for their survival, not because of the shameful poll defeat. They say it is shocking that leaders who have been the biggest beneficiaries of the Sonia Gandhi regime are deploying such a divisive ploy.

A key party functionary said: “We all know Rahul alone cannot be blamed for this defeat. But some leaders have started questioning his leadership, even declaring that he is not capable of handling politics.

“This is because Rahul has a different style of functioning and has not shown any inclination for giving them as much importance as they got under the Sonia regime. It is more personal than political.”

Sources say Priyanka felt compelled to issue a formal denial when she smelt a conspiracy. Most 10 Janpath insiders confirm that the family is completely united and has a clear understanding of the future course of action.

An AICC general secretary conceded there was a deliberate attempt to undermine Rahul’s leadership by demanding Priyanka’s induction and argued: “The family has seen two major tragedies. Nothing can divide them. The bonding between Rahul and Priyanka is unbreakable.”

Many leaders feel “indecision” is the bane of the Congress and the confusion about Rahul’s leadership is deepening because of the delay in the restructuring plan.

Another general secretary, who too confirmed the ploy to divide Rahul and Priyanka, said: “Indiraji made her own team when she took charge, Rajivji did the same. Why should Rahul be denied that freedom? If he wants a total overhaul, let him do it without any resistance.”

The dominant view in the party is that dithering and infirmity are the prime reasons for the organisational mess. A senior leader said: “Some people in our party have mastered the art of procrastination. They confuse Sonia and get decisions delayed by months and years.

Sonia and Rahul pay tribute to Rajiv Gandhi at Veer Bhoomi on Wednesday. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha

“Party workers wanted drastic changes soon after the Lok Sabha election debacle but nothing happened because they argued against making changes when important states are going to the polls.”

The workers have interpreted the delay as a ploy to maintain status quo and are getting restless when, in fact, Sonia and Rahul did want immediate change. But they were persuaded that changing general secretaries in poll-bound Maharashtra, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir would be counter-productive.

Most leaders suspect the same group will plead for further delaying the reshuffle and suggest an auspicious time after Makar Sankranti in January 2015.

The suspicion is that this period would be used to create situations in favour of status quo. A Rahul aide termed this frustrating, saying: “A new team should have been in place by now and an action plan to revive the party should have been launched straightaway.

“There is no need to leave time and space for conspiracies and dismay. If Rahul is the future of the party, give him the reins without any ifs and buts.”

Some leaders feel Rahul has not shown the capability to pick talented state leaders who can sustain the party. His choices in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have been poor and his advisers have come under attack for apolitical attitude and lack of managerial skills.

During Indira Gandhi’s fading years, Sanjay Gandhi picked leaders who sustained the Congress for decades. Most of them worked with Rajiv Gandhi and remained loyal to Sonia afterwards.

Rahul has been in active politics for over 10 years but he has not been able to build a good team so far. Experienced leaders feel by doing this he would not only establish his leadership but also create the mechanism for the party’s revival.

If he doesn’t, the chorus to bring Priyanka will ring louder.