Sonia Gandhi has been the interim president of the Congress since the resignation of Rahul Gandhi following the debacle in various polls, but all the decisions and meetings are taking place at Rahul Gandhi’s residence, which makes him the de-facto party chief.
The Congress dissenting group of 23, which wrote a letter last year for visible and effective leadership, point out that the issues raised by them remain the same as no forward decisions have been taken.
Many of the letter writers were adjusted in different committees of the party, but they have not been involved in the consultation processes. This has further miffed the group and sources within the group say that the issue remains the same.
Be it Chhattisgarh or Punjab, the epicentre of the meetings was 12, Tughlak lane, the residence of Rahul Gandhi.
The two important meetings happened there in which T.S. Singhdeo and Bhupesh Baghel were present and later with Baghel also the meetings were held at Rahul’s place only. These events have made it clear that the decision making in the Congress is now confined to Rahul Gandhi.
The Punjab issue was settled at Rahul Gandhi’s residence with Navjot Singh Sidhu appointed as the party president in the state. A meeting with Sonia Gandhi took place afterwards, but the decision was taken at Rahul Gandhi’s residence which was backed by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
After Sidhu attacked the Congress leadership, the reaction came from Manish Tewari, a former Union minister, who said that if they utter a word they are being named. He used a Urdu couplet to describe the situation, “hum aah bhi bharte hai tau, ho jaate ha badnaam, wo qatal bhi karte hain tau charcha nahi hote.”
Last year on August 23, leaders including Tewari wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi for a ‘visible and effective leadership and elections from the block to CWC level which were still pending.
But nothing has moved and the Congress apparatus is working under Rahul Gandhi. The grudge of the G-23 leaders is that either he should take the responsibility fully or make way for someone else. Most of them want Sonia Gandhi to function as full time president, but sources say due to health reasons she is reluctant.
The Congress leaders are upset over the growing clout of K.C. Venugopal, the General Secretary organization of the party. There has been simmering tension in the Kerala unit against him with one of the leaders expelled from the party — secretary P.S. Prasanth — who was expelled from the party hours after he wrote to Rahul Gandhi. Both Ramesh Chennithala and Oomen Chandy are said to be upset over the party affairs.
Despite Rahul Gandhi calling the shots, things are not improving. The issue of Rajasthan is pending from the last one year and now it is being said that the much awaited cabinet expansion in the state will take place soon. In Chhattisgarh, the Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel flexed his muscles after bringing more than 50 MLAs to Delhi in a show of strength.
The Congress is facing tough times and is going to face elections in six states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Goa, Punjab, Manipur and later Gujarat.
In Delhi and Mumbai, the Municipal body polls are slated which are also considered as prestigious elections. For Goa the Congress has appointed P. Chidambaram as Senior observer and for Manipur Jairam Ramesh, but for other states there is no clarity.
The election results early next year will decide the fate of the Congress. In the recently concluded Assembly elections, the party lost in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry and only solace was Tamil Nadu where it is a junior partner of the DMK.