Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi speaks with part leaders and CMs of Congress-ruled states | PTI via INC/Twitter
File photo of Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi | PTI via INC/Twitter
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On one of my usual story-fishing expeditions several years ago, I was intrigued to see an influential Maharashtra legislator engaging a 10 Janpath peon in a long conversation in the lawns of the Congress headquarters. As I approached them, Kanhaiyalal Gidwani wound up his conversation, giving the peon his three mobile numbers, including the “private” one, which only “a select few” had.

Gidwani, yet to be named as an accused in the Adarsh scam, had easy access to party bigwigs such as A.K. Antony and Pranab Mukherjee. I was, therefore, surprised to see him indulging a peon. As Gidwani told me later, he, along with a Karnataka leader, had dinner with the peon at the Taj Man Singh hotel in New Delhi the previous evening. The Karnataka leader had a letter — the second one — from H.D. Deve Gowda to Sonia Gandhi, committing Janata Dal (Secular)’s support to his candidature in the legislative council polls. There was just one day left for filing the nomination papers and the challenge was to get Gandhi to see the letter well in time. She eventually did, as the peon placed the letter on top of her work table the next morning, making that Karnataka leader a legislator. “You don’t know the powers of these peons,” Gidwani taunted me for my ignorance.

To be fair to the Gandhi family, it doesn’t discriminate between a peon and a powerful leader or minister. During the UPA days, Rahul Gandhi would make senior ministers wait for hours in his office before meeting them. So, how come I remember this old peon story after so many years? Well, that’s just to illustrate how Congress leaders’ fate may get decided by a peon at a cocktail dinner in a five-star hotel or which side of the bed Sonia or Rahul Gandhi has woken up from or by when they decide to come to their work table. Efforts to see the Gandhi family’s political wisdom and strategy in Friday’s organisational reshuffle — reconstitution of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), creation of a special committee to assist Sonia, and appointment of general secretaries and state in-charges — are pointless. In fact, the reshuffle defies any political sense or logic, not to speak of wisdom.


Also read: Ghulam Nabi Azad loses general secretary post in Congress reshuffle weeks after letter row


‘Magnanimity’ of the Gandhis

Yes, the family did try to convey that it’s not going to avenge itself by punishing all 20 dissenters in one go. The Gandhis couldn’t afford to do it because an overwhelming majority of Congresspersons, including family loyalists, would agree to the contents of the letter. Therefore, a six-member special committee has been constituted to assist the Congress president, giving an impression that Sonia is looking into the issues raised in the letter. For the sake of fairness, one of the signatories of the letter, Mukul Wasnik, also finds a place on the committee comprising family loyalists. Wasnik’s choice is understandable. Except the momentary lapse of judgement when he signed the letter, he has been a harmless leader, never offending his party bosses or even political adversaries.

Apart from Wasnik, four other signatories were supposed to be the beneficiaries of the Gandhi family’s magnanimity — Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Jitin Prasada retaining their places in the CWC (Prasada becoming West Bengal in-charge, additionally) and Arvinder Singh Lovely made a member of the Central Election Authority (CEA). Although Azad was sacked as a general secretary, a CWC berth spared him total humiliation. Jitin Prasada may not be very excited about getting charge of West Bengal. Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi would have any Tom, Dick and Harry lead the party in Uttar Pradesh, but not Prasada. Just when the former Union minister was seeking to consolidate his base by tapping into Brahmins’ disgruntlement in UP, he has been sent to West Bengal where the Congress is virtually irrelevant.

Talking about the ‘magnanimity’ of the Gandhi family, Digvijaya Singh must be feeling slighted by his inclusion as a CWC ‘permanent invitee’. Congress leaders with much less political stature are full-time members of the CWC while Singh has been categorised with Manish Chatrath, Rajiv Shukla, Kuljit Singh Nagra, and Rajiv Satav, among others.

Former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot must also be feeling the brunt of Gandhis’ ‘magnanimity’. Divested of deputy CMship and the post of state unit president, Pilot was expected to be rehabilitated in the All India Congress Committee (AICC) set-up. He has been left high and dry.


Also read: Priyanka’s support to Kafeel Khan part of larger strategy to tap into ‘distanced’ UP Muslims 


Gandhis’ moves in states defy reason   

Around 12 crore people who voted for the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha election must be curious about the party’s plan to regain its lost ground in states. Well, going by the credentials of people Gandhis have entrusted the states to, the Congress seems resigned to ceding its ground further — if only to help Rahul Gandhi’s lieutenants gain more clout. The Congress appointed nine general secretaries and 17 in-charges for states. Their list is a testament of the Gandhis’ ‘political wisdom’. Let’s look at some samples:

K.C. Venugopal, a Rahul Gandhi acolyte, has been retained as AICC general secretary (organisation). His credentials: ran away from contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Alappuzha, the only seat the CPI(M)-led LDF ended up winning; recently rewarded with a Rajya Sabha berth.

Randeep Singh Surjewala is the new AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka. The eligibility criteria: Surjewala lost the last two consecutive assembly elections, including a bypoll, in his home state, Haryana; and, he has been a disaster as AICC communication department chairman, with the opposition party reduced to attacking the media.

Rajeev Satav has been given charge of Gujarat again. His credentials: he was in-charge of Gujarat where the Congress didn’t win a single Lok Sabha seat in 2019; he refused to defend his Lok Sabha seat, Hingoli, in 2019; the Congress lost Hingoli; during his term as Youth Congress president, Rahul Gandhi’s ‘democratisation’ experiment flopped.

Jitendra Singh has been appointed AICC general secretary in charge of Assam. His credentials: he was in-charge of Odisha when the Congress won 9 out of 147 assembly seats in the 2019 state election, ceding the principal opposition party’s place to the BJP. To be fair to Jitendra Singh, the Odisha Congress was already in shambles when he was given charge of that state in March 2018. Rahul Gandhi was said to have told him not to worry about the 2019 election and work for the party’s revival in 2024. You don’t expect Gandhis to remember these things, do you?

A. Chella Kumar has been given charge of Odisha. His credentials: he replaced Digvijaya Singh as AICC in-charge of Goa when Singh failed to form a Congress government after the 2017 assembly election; with Chella Kumar at the helm of the Goa Congress, 10 of the 15 Congress MLAs joined the BJP in July 2019.

Rajani Patil has been given charge of Jammu and Kashmir. Her credentials: she won the last direct election as BJP candidate in Maharashtra’s Beed Lok Sabha in 1996; she had quit the Congress in the 1990s, accusing the party leadership of targeting the Gandhi family; she returned to the Congress after Sonia Gandhi took over in 1998.

Rajiv Shukla has been given charge of Himachal Pradesh. His credentials: never contested a direct election.

Harish Rawat, former Uttarakhand chief minister, has been appointed AICC general secretary in charge of Punjab. Uttarakhand and Punjab go to polls together in early 2022. As it seems, the Congress high command either wants Rawat, the only Congress leader with mass appeal in his state, to stay out of Uttarakhand or it doesn’t bother about Punjab polls.

Oommen Chandy, former Kerala chief minister, has been appointed AICC general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh. Kerala is slated to go to polls in May 2021. Again, the Congress high command either wants Chandy to stay out of Kerala or is least bothered about Andhra Pradesh.

In a nutshell, the organisational reshuffle in the Congress might have empowered Rahul Gandhi’s coterie but will end up damaging the party in several states.

Views are personal.

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21 Comments Share Your Views

21 COMMENTS

  1. So don’t go ballistic when we call Congress Ma-Beta Party. This is nothing to laugh at. Spineless second class congress leaders should take note of this. Many career politicians in Congress including the late Dr. Pranab Mukherjee and others in congress could not do a thing under the family watch. When everything changes in.the world nothing changes in the congress under Ma-Beta leadership. Now the seats are being warmed up for the grand children to seed the leadership from the groomed Vadra family. Work in progress. and men at work. And the party workers and leaders, sorry suckers are looking forward to their glorious career in CWC ready to become the next set of rubber stamp in the making.

  2. A commentator has compared the present congress to the OLD COTTON MILLS of Mumbai. The owners had no intention of reviving them, everything was done to run them to ground, because the real estate value of the scrap was so much more lucrative.
    Imagine whoever can grab the assets of congress not the congress will be the real smart one.

  3. If a peon is a source of getting things done, and the journalist could never point out such irregularities what good this journalist is. I think people do not want this “system” of getting things done. This “system’ is Congress and we do not need this “system”. If anyone can see Maharashtra events in this light, either you be part of the system or system will work against you. It works against Kangana but not Dawood.
    We require a strong opposition. In current political scenario I am not hopeful about strong opposition.

  4. As if the BJP is not full of pitiful peons. At least under the Gandhis, India was still a secular, constitutional democracy. It is now an insane Banana Republic run by the RSS, a fascist organization.

    • At least under the Gandhis, India was still a secular,

      Indians don’t want 4 growth rate of Nehru family secularism. They would happily sacrifice secularism for development, rather than personal freedom as Chinese did.

  5. The congress party can be revived by simply removing the Gandhis from leadership and the word “secular” from its manifesto(s). A tall order?

    But real democracy can return yo India at National level, in the near/medium term only and only if the “tall order” is executed.

    Views are, of course, personal.

  6. Even as a BJP supporter and a Modiji fan – I cannot but be disappointed and sad about the idiotic Opposition we have in India . Not only are they total failures , but they are failing India also.

    Dirty shysters, cheap charlatans, Lutyens lowlifes and other parasitical reprobates that skulk the swamps of Delhi for decades make up its numbers. There is nothing informed, grounded or even reasonably relevant about the constant whining and feckless carping by these rabble to call them a political Opposition.

    The worst disgrace is that the so-called “Freedom Movement Party” is run by some dumb woman and her retarded man-child just because they carry the DNA of some long-dead syphilitic idealist and Gandhi confidante who happened to be India’s first PM because Gandhi “wanted him” .

  7. Satirical yet instructive. I am really happy that Pappu and his Mama are digging their party’s graveyard. This is essential to keep their promise of Congress Mukt Bharat to BJP. I only wish BJP takes some cue from the “wisdom” of Pappu and his mama and implement it in their own party as well.
    With Congress Mukt, India will be free from corruption and incompetence. With BJP Mukt, India will be free from fascism and mismanagement

  8. Imagine Rahul is the PM of India today during this Covid crisis. There would be dead bodies all over the country waiting for the funeral. Morgues and hospitals will be overflowing with dead bodies by now.

    • Well, I can atleast give you that he would have shown a better record in managing the COVID issue than Modi. Feel free to use google and confirm – he had raised the threat of Corona in Feb while Modi was busy planning for Trumps rally in Ahemedabad and while Shah was busy planning the downfall of MP govt.

      In general he would have done what Modi simply can’t do – get inputs from respected professionals and act on it. It’s widely accepted now that the worlds most severe lockdown in India failed in containing COVID spread and the govt also failed in using this time to create necessary infra in the health sector. Doctors till date struggle with supplies of PPEs. What the lockdown did achieve was second crippling blow to the economy. The first one ofcourse was demonitization, again a Modi creation and not from Rahul.

  9. 1) Pity the journalist who never realised that the FAMILY enacted the drama using pliable media who themselves have lost additional sources of income under present dispensation.

    2) The veterans are not worried about congrass they are worried that the investment they have made through phone banking cannot be recovered and hence this letter writing.

    3) Also the fact that the network of fake ” left liberals ” ” rent a journalist ” and “phone banking ” is getting dismantled.

    4) The FAMILY is corrupt but the head of the FAMILY is more interested in proselytizing and therefore would like to remain in power to achieve
    ” ROME RAJYA “.

    So don’t be surprised, see how desperate journalist from your own office are for congrass to come back for them to become middlemen again.

  10. Gandhi’s are colluding with Modi and Amit Shah in ensuing a Congress mukt bharat. Sounds far fetched? Maybe, but then every single thing they are doing is just hastening the decline of the centrist party. High time a part of the Congress broke away and created a new opposition force.

  11. Congress will remain the same as long as Sonia is alive. After her, Congress will disintegrate. Either way, it is good for the country. Congress party is a bunch of thieves, other parties are no better either.

  12. This is a superb article. I doubt other news publications will have someone lift the veil of the Congress drama so forthrightly. In spite of being a BJP voter, I recognize the absolute necessity to have a strong, non-dynastic, national opposition party, not the current caricature. Shall look forward to more such objective articles, Mr. Singh – Yes, even those critical of actual flaws of the GOI would be welcome.

  13. The way things have been presented in this article, the Congress First Family has been bought out by the BJP. Maybe it is true.

    • Congress first family takes long term view. By sitting in back ground for next one or two election and letting BJP win will result in all other parties becoming history, as they don’t have sustaining power & resources of family.

      All that Family has to do is keep it’s loyalists in key positions. Nehru family is not going to sacrifice themselves for secularists, no matter how much they jump like monkeys in cage. Whatever may be the fault of Nehru family one thing is sure they are not stupid. Rahul can wait for another 10 to 15 years to be PM, when Modi & Amit Shah are gone. If secularism is gone by that time too bad so sad from family perspective.

  14. Very well written. He is full of interesting facts about GANDHIS lead their day-to-day life! Anything can happen to others. His list of new In-Charges and their horoscope makes damned good reading. Keep it up Mr.D.K.Singh!

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