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Reviving party’s fortunes a big challenge for Congress president Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi. File

Sonia Gandhi. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Besides sulking Congressmen, she has to negotiate with ally NCP

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday was firmly back in the saddle as she unfurled the national flag at the party headquarters to celebrate the Independence Day.

But following the 2019 Lok Sabha rout, she faces an enormous challenge of reviving the party’s fortunes, especially in Jharkhand, Haryana, Maharashtra and Delhi, where elections are scheduled in the next few months.

Of the 79 Lok Sabha seats in these four States, the Congress drew a blank in Delhi and Haryana and won one each in Maharashtra and Jharkhand.

Each of these States have not only seen open factional feuds but also leadership challenge tussle.

“It is the wisest decision to have Sonia Gandhi back but much has changed in the past 20 months. Her job has become more challenging,” former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar told The Hindu.

In Haryana, there is constant talk about former Chief Minister Bhupender Singh Hooda floating his own party after being with upset with the Congress High Command for not replacing PCC chief Ashok Tanwar, believed to be close to former party chief Rahul Gandhi.

Mr. Hooda organised a public rally on Sunday that is being seen as a show of strength by him. The comments of his son and former Lok Sabha member, Deepender, backing the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was another indicator.

Mr. Hooda, however, was present at the AICC headquarters on Thursday when Ms. Gandhi unfurled the flag.

In the poll-bound Maharashtra, the appointment of Balasaheb Thorat as State chief by Mr. Gandhi last month is believed to have upset the faction that supports former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

Apart from dealing with sulking Congressmen, Ms. Gandhi will also have to negotiate with ally, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) that performed better than the Congress.

Last week, Jharkhand Congress chief Ajoy Kumar simply added to Congress crisis by not resigning from his post and also blaming senior leaders like Subodh Kant Sahay and Pradeep Balmuchu for “resorting to petty politics and working against party interest”.

And the party unit in Delhi is still dealing with the sudden leadership vacuum after the death of former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit last month.

“Invest workers with dignity by correcting the internal processes which elevate and empower workers and leaders at all levels,” said Mr. Kumar. “Empower leaders to freely express themselves on critical issues. Discipline is not to be equated with conformism.”

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 4:59:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/reviving-partys-fortunes-a-big-challenge-for-congress-president-sonia-gandhi/article29103021.ece

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