Rahul let down by his own party?



Last week’s high political drama, which resulted in, Anna Hazare finally breaking his fast has shown up sharp divisions within the ruling Congress party. With the party Chief, Sonia Gandhi recovering from her surgery, the Congress would have normally backed her son and general secretary Rahul Gandhi to the hilt. After all, he is seen as the obvious heir apparent and is likely to lead the party in his mother’s absence.

But the way the events unfolded prior to the Parliament debate on the three recommendations of Team Anna, it has become clear that there is certainly one section of the party, which seems reluctant to identify itself with Rahul Gandhi’s line of thinking. The 41-year-old son of Sonia and late Rajiv Gandhi in his intervention during the zero hour a day before the Lok Pal debate had advocated a constitutional position for the Lok Pal. He had also dwelt on the need to bring about reforms in several sectors including land acquisition etc and pointed out that corruption had to be tackled at various levels. He also upheld the need for Parliamentary democracy and said that nothing should be allowed to threaten the plurality of our society. There were many in Parliament who felt that Rahul’s view was not consistent with the position of the party as stated by the Prime Minister in Parliament and sought to undo the appeal made by the august House to Anna Hazare to end his fast. There were others who thought that Rahul’s approach was good as it also sought to maintain the sanctity of Parliament, which was being undone by many speakers while addressing large crowds at Ramlila grounds.

Normally speaking as people who have covered the Congress for many years will tell you, the party would have held Rahul’s speech as the gospel truth and would have crafted its strategy around it. But what amazed everyone was that till Jyotirditya Scindia took the floor towards the end of the debate, there was hardly any reference to the thoughts expressed by the general secretary. Sandeep Dikshit who was surprisingly fielded after Sushma Swaraj, the leader of opposition had said her piece, did not make any mention of Rahul Gandhi or his thinking and went on to give his own line which many found to be closer to that of Team Anna than that of his own party. Mr Scindia did try to do a late damage control but the matter had by then become a huge talking point in Congress circles. I believe that the manner in which the party fielded the earlier speakers irked many who took up the matter in the Lok Sabha lobby with Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Bansal. Bansal on his part defended himself by shifting the onus on the Prime Minister.

The fall out of the Rahul Gandhi line being ignored is being now seen as an early warning by some Congress leaders who have made it known that they cannot be taken for granted on several matters. There is a talk of a strong division and with the party president ill, a power game has apparently broken out. The game is so far being played on a low key manner but there is every possibility it could erupt into a full blown confrontation if things are not handled properly by senior Congress leaders, some of whom are also involved in this seeming power struggle. No leader is, however, prepared to admit these internal differences and is maintaining that the party was solely behind its tallest leader Sonia Gandhi. No one doubts that but the trouble is that the Congressmen always prepare for the future by anticipating events. There is no ambiguity in anyone’s mind that Rahul Gandhi will succeed his mother so far as Congress party structure is concerned but there are also forces who are keen that this succession is neither smooth nor easy.

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