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Team Rahul faces tough questions

In the end, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi won his Amethi seat by 1.08 lakh votes, but the fact that he led his party to double-digit insignificance in the Lok Sabha polls has once again highlighted an issue that has been discussed in party circles over the last year or so: does he have the qualities to helm the Congress?

Party sources admitted that the voices of discontent would grow in the coming weeks, but stressed that even though no one would challenge his leadership, they would certainly question the quality and capacity of Mr. Gandhi’s largely “non-political” team of “western-educated experts” on whose advice he seems to rely.

These questions, the sources said, may not come as much from the old guard, who are part of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s coterie, but from the younger “political” leaders.

Indeed, party sources said Mr. Gandhi’s team, anticipating defeat, had already drawn up a plan to revive the Congress, a scheme that included organisational reform as well a leftward turn.

Taking off from experiments conducted in the Youth Congress, Team RG was hoping to institute organisational changes by holding elections at every level of the party for the posts of Pradesh Congress Committees, District Congress Committees, Block Congress Committees, with Delhi as its first target.

But with the Youth Congress project all but destroying the organisation, a senior party leader told The Hindu, “Though it is true that we need to democratise the party and end the high command culture and the system of patronage, the Youth Congress project has made the organisation non-functional. What was done needs to be debated, as there are many doubts about its utility and efficacy, however well-meaning the experiment be.”

In short, party leaders who still believe they have a stake in the Congress will push to be included in the decision-making team that surrounds Mr. Gandhi, diluting the importance of his current non-political core team.

For Mr. Gandhi, the first challenge will be to connect with party workers and make them feel that the idea of the Congress is worth fighting for.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 1:11:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/team-rahul-faces-tough-questions/article6017623.ece

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