The irony of it all stares in the face. For weeks now the much-anticipated and long-delayed formal coronation of Rahul Gandhi as the official number two and the recast of the party’s organisational apparatus has been put off. Now with the same old hands in place, the top heads from Team Manmohan and Team Sonia are meeting on Friday at Surajkund for a brainstorming session as they all grope for a strategy that could see them survive beyond 2014.
They have christened it samvad baithak and have stubbornly refused to provide an English equivalent phrase.
Essentially, it is a face off between the party and the government. Even though they have not put in place a new team that would be implementing the decisions that are taken at this session, they have all the frills in place.
So, there are no lal battis even for cabinet ministers, and in true schoolboy style they shall be riding a bus to attend something that may ultimately turn out to be Madam Sonia’s class. In sync with the seriousness of the affair, there would be no lunch break, and of course the media has been kept out barring the customary photo-op before Congress president Sonia Gandhi starts off the session with her introductory remarks that are sure to set the tone for the day’s proceedings.
The list of invitees is pretty restricted. From Team Manmohan there would be all the cabinet ministers, and ministers of state with independent charges, and Team Sonia would be represented by her version of the cabinet ministers i.e general secretaries, and those holding charge of the states, like the ministers of state with independent charge.
But Team Sonia starts with a handicap. Not many of them are sure as to how long would they be holding their current charges. For example two general secretaries — BK Hariprasad and Mukul Wasnik hold multiple charges in the poll-bound states. Hariprasad looks after Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana whereas Wasnik has been holding fort in Rajasthan and Bihar. Obviously in any imminent reshuffle both of them would not be sticking to all these assignments.
Against the backdrop, a section of the leadership also feels that this could be a ‘farewell’ meeting for some who may get dropped in the recast.
“We are also mentally prepared to be told that henceforth our services are not required by the party,” quipped a senior functionary albeit in a lighter vein. But the remark underscored the underlying sentiment in the party functionaries.
The agenda is quite heavy, as party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said it includes a discussion on the current political situation, the scope of the economic challenges, and the status of implementation of the 2009 election manifesto.
It is also expected that in a state-wise review of the current situation, the question of local alliances, and the pros and cons of these arrangements would be discussed threadbare. Similarly, issues related to the concerns of aam aadmi with special reference to price rise would be discussed.