The old unravels in Congress, but the new is yet to emerge

“If we are as purposeless and directionless in May 2015 as we are today, people will begin to question Rahul Gandhi’s leadership,” a Congress leader had told this writer a few months ago. “Mr. Gandhi will have one year to come up with a new blueprint for the party.”

Mr. Gandhi has been interacting with leaders in recent months and State units have been asked to hold brainstorming sessions on the party’s revival, ahead of the March AICC plenary session

But the grace period available to Mr. Gandhi seems to be shrinking, as senior leaders, one after another, show signs of restiveness. Former Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan’s outburst in a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi that first appeared in The Hindu on Friday took on the Gandhis directly, setting the cat among the pigeons.

Recently, another former Union Minister, Krishna Tirath, had left the party to join the BJP and party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi’s reported — and later disowned — comments deviated from the party’s official position on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Party sources that are tuned into the scheme of Mr. Gandhi see Ms. Natarajan’s outburst as nothing more than a minor embarrassment and question the premise that it may disrupt his politics in any fashion. “The principal assertion in Jayanthi’s letter is that Mr. Gandhi intervened on behalf of the poor and tribal people. That is the prerogative not only of the party’s leader but also of an ordinary worker. The party and Mr. Gandhi will continue on that path,” said Randeep Surjewala, party spokesperson.

A churning in the existing power equations in the Congress could be noisy and troublesome, but Mr. Gandhi is reconciled to its inevitability. While taking over as vice-president in January 2013, Mr. Gandhi had expressed his willingness to accommodate the senior generation in his plans. His constant refrain about the party being in the control of a handful of people and the necessity to democratise, targets “those who have captured the Congress party for their personal gratification,” according to a close follower. “Ms. Natarajan’s exit is good riddance.”

But party leaders say he is dismantling old structures without creating the new. “He has not figured out what is to be done though he has broad plans. While he has a lot of floaters around him, he has not found enough people to implement his agenda,” an AICC secretary said.

Sonia’s Congress is unravelling. Rahul’s is nascent.

Complete coverage: Jayanthi Natarajan quits Congress

Former Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan quits from the primary membership of the Congress > Read here

The Hindu Exclusive: Jayanthi Natarajan's letter to Sonia Gandhi. > Read here

Jayanthi's letter rocks capital; Congress evasive, BJP on the offensive. > Read here

Jayanthi's resignation from the Congress is unlikely to have any unusual impact on the party’s plummeting fortunes in Tamil Nadu. > Read here

BJP denies that Jayanthi Natarajan had met any of their leaders last year. > Read here

Congress high command has to respond to Jayanthi's charges: CPI > Read here

Prakash Javdekar said it was his duty to review those specific files where extraneous influence had been alleged as per the letter. > Read here

Several Congress leaders issued hard-hitting statements against their former colleague > Read here

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 4:34:12 AM |

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