So far, it is Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has been instrumental in sewing up alliances.
New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is learning it the hard way. With scheduled elections in several states in next couple of months, brand Rahul Gandhi finds no taker in the state Congress units.
The party state units in these poll-bound states have clearly conveyed Mr Gandhi is not their first choice, said party sources, requesting anonymity.
The “reluctance” on part of the state units have emanated from the rout, which the party faced in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Assembly elections. Mr Gandhi led from the front but the party was decimated. In Even before the Congress could get into an alliance with the Samajwadi Party in UP, Mr Gandhi had travelled the length and breadth of the state — he had already one state-wide yarta and attended 45 public meetings and by then. The Congress party could only win 7 seats out of 425. Similar results were witnessed in Uttarakhand.
The Congress cadre seems to have has conceded to the fact that if Mr Gandhi is put forward in a state election, it automatically becomes a Gandhi Vs Modi election, in which the Prime Minister scores. If Mr Gandhi’s involvement in any election would be limited — like it was in the Punjab Assembly election — the “Congress could win handsomely”. The idea is to build or engage the present state leadership and take on the BJP on local issues. In Punjab, it was Congress chief minister Candidate Amarinder Singh, who led the charge. His only directed his attacks on Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party; Mr Gandhi made guest appearances and did just a few rallies. Ultimately, it came down to the state-level leadership in which the Congress scored. There were also reports that in the Kerala Assembly elections in 2016, some candidates had raised objection over Mr Gandhi leading the campaign.
Since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has only been able to win Punjab and is in alliance in Bihar — both these wins can’t be credited to Mr Gandhi. “Hence, he should take a backseat for a moment,” said the sources, adding that he should focus on strengthening the party organisation and building alliances. The Rahul Gandhi camp tries to see a silver lining behind this realignment. They feel once the Congress Party starts winning states, it will strengthen Mr Gandhi’s position.
So far, it is Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has been instrumental in sewing up alliances. Even in the upcoming presidential polls, Ms Gandhi is the fulcrum of the Opposition unity. Since Mr Gandhi is all set to take over as “Congress president”, he will have to hone his skills in negotiating with leaders of other parties.
Faced with such hidden hostilities, the party also seems to be making peace with the fact that if the state-level polls are fought without Mr Gandhi, chances of the Congress scoring are amplified.