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Rahul Gandhi vs Congress: 10 Janpath under siege

Tuesday, 22 July 2014 - 6:20am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

The Congress is in the throes of a crisis, facing revolts in Assam, Maharashtra, Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir, proving beyond doubt that 10 Janpath's writ does not run beyond 24 Akbar Road, the Congress headquarters.

In Assam, state health minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma resigned on Monday. He has formed a separate block with 30 Congress MLAs, demanding the ouster of chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who has the support of 10 Janpath.

Closer to Delhi, Rao Birender Singh, son of the founder of Haryana, Sir Chottu Ram, is holding out the threat that he will not contest the elections if Bhupinder Singh Hooda continues to be chief minister.

Up north, in Jammu & Kashmir, former MP Lal Singh is up in arms. J&K is due to go to polls. And in Maharashtra, where too elections are to be held shortly, Narayan Rane kept his promise and quit the Prithviraj Chavan government.

10 Janpath is under siege. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is at the centre of unwanted (for the party) speculation within the party. His leadership abilities are being questioned, and Sonia Gandhi is losing her hold though the usual suspects continue to back the family, petrified that without the Gandhis, the party will disintegrate.

While Rane's exit was expected, the real worry for the Congress is Assam where elections are not due for another two years. Sarma's revolt is being seen as a rebellion against Rahul, forcing party stalwarts to firefight for the Gandhi scion.

"It is not a revolt against Rahul at all. The issue is that some people are unhappy with the chief minister though majority of MLAs are with the CM," Congress stalwart Kamal Nath told reporters outside Parliament.
The party said it has never bowed down to "blackmail". "Hemanta Sarma had given the deadline of August 2. By resigning from the government, he has acted prematurely. No one can threaten the party at gunpoint," a Congress leader said.
But while the rebellions point to the rot in the Congress, the way they are being handled suggest that none among the leadership has the guts to hold the Gandhis responsible. So much so, the AK Antony committee, that went into reasons behind the party's worst electoral defeat, has not dared to point a finger at Rahul. The report is "For Sonia's Eyes Only".
The Congress knows the party is facing its biggest challenge. "Narendra Modi has spoken of a 'Congress Mukt Bharat'. If you people also align with Modi, there will be no future for the Congress. It will be very difficult," Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed told reporters recently.
For the Congress, nothing matters at this stage. Not even the assembly elections. "Our sole endeavour is to revitalise the party," Ahmed said. Though privately Congress leaders acknowledge Rahul has failed. Most want Priyanka to take charge as she is the "acceptable face" that transcends caste and other barriers.
Rahul's image has taken a beating after May 16. A couple of party leaders has likened him to a "joker". Stalwarts in Delhi are not amused. "Both Sonia and Rahul had put in their papers after the election debacle. But the CWC asked Sonia: After that what? In six months, the Congress will face internal strife. Everybody will be at each others' throats. There will be chaos. Like an army requires a general to lead, so does the Congress, the CWC told her," Ahmed said.
Leaders such as AK Antony, Ahmed Patel, Janardhan Dwivedi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, P Chidambaram, Prithviraj Chavan, Veerappa Moily, Salman Khurshid continue to shield Rahul. It suits them as it suits young leaders like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia. Like Rahul they too are "dynasts".
So, as the Congress is at the crossroads, fidgets and covers up, a million revolts continue to be in the making.

JOKER COMMENTS

"The Rahul brigade failed to learn lessons from various assembly election defeats. Letting an inexperienced Rahul, who was not even a minister at the state level to lead the fight made it easy for Modi to execute his hi-tech campaign," ally Muslim League in its mouthpiece, Chandrika

"He should resign from the party. He should not continue. If he doesn't resign voluntarily, he should be sacked. His crazy policies and joker-like behavior, and his association with non-Congress advisers were the primary reasons why the Congress suffered very badly in the elections," TH Mustafa, five-time Congress MLA and former Kerala minister

"The people who are around him (Rahul) are jokers. He is the MD of a team of jokers... Rahul Gandhi is directionless and has no policy. He and his advisors are responsible for the party's embarrassment and defeat in elections as there is no huge mass support for him" ----Rajasthan Congress MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma

"Parents wish their child to become a doctor or an engineer. However, some of the wishes never get fulfilled because their son is unfit. Parents simply cannot force them to become one. You (Sonia) wished to make him (Rahul) a leader and got 10 years for it. But you failed to make him a leader. You failed to make him speak properly. He failed to acquire political acumen. He remains the same. We're tired of hearing people address him as 'Pappu' and 'Munna'. We feel ashamed." --- Gufran Azam, former Rajya Sabha MP and Congress leader.

 




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