The Congress may be setting the stage for a Rahul Gandhi takeover, for new faces in the Rajya Sabha and a reshuffle in the AICC — half of the general secretaries could be on their way out — but the party is battling rebellion in at least five states, four of which face elections over the next two years.
And the refrain heard in all: lack of communication with the central leadership.
While the party suffered a split in Tripura today with six of its 10 MLAs joining the Trinamool Congress, discordant noises came in from Uttarakhand, too, where only recently the courts had intervened and helped restore the party’s government.
This, incidentally, a day after AICC General Secretary Gurudas Kamat resigned ostensibly because he was sidelined and the leadership did not pay heed to his views, plunging the Mumbai Congress into turmoil.
Speaking to The Indian Express today, Uttarakhand Congress chief Kishore Upadhyay said that the Congress in the state will meet the same fate as the UPA Government did if the “rulers of the state” ignore the party’s workers. Upadhyay was considered close to Chief Minister Harish Rawat and this public “word of caution” clearly signals changing equations.
In Tripura, the Congress lost the main opposition status after the split and exit of former Leader of the Opposition Sudip Roy Barman. He joined the long list of top Congress leaders who have left the party in the last two years — starting from Chaudhary Birender Singh in Haryana to G K Vasan and Jayanthi Natarajan in Tamil Nadu; Botcha Satyanarayana and D Srinivas in Andhra Pradesh, Vijay Bahuguna in Uttarakhand, Kalikho Pul in Arunachal Pradesh, Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam, Kamat in Maharashtra, Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh and Beni Prasad Verma in Uttar Pradesh.
While the party has downplayed these exits, some senior leaders are not. Said senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi: “We were expecting that there will be a reorganisation (after the 2014 defeat) and the party will come up with a new theme and new leadership that would galvanise the cadre that the party is rectifying its mistakes. That has not happened…decision-making has been lacking for one reason or the other.”
But it is never too late, he said.
One reason for the delay, Chaturvedi added, is that there could be a lack of consensus on the way ahead. “It is the responsibility of all senior party members to enable the leadership to take the right decision. It is high time the leadership takes a call on a reshuffle, from top to the district and the booth levels,” he said.
Upadhyay, many believe, is sulking because he was not given a Rajya Sabha ticket by Rawat. The ticket went to another Rawat loyalist Pradeep Tamta. “Those in the Government should listen to the voice of the workers,” said Upadhyay. “The Chief Minister himself was a Congress worker, PCC president, he should understand the mind of the workers.”
Asked why he had to go public with his views, Upadhyay said: “Congress workers should know that their president is fighting for them. The big leaders in Delhi…you and I know how much work they have done for the workers.”
Congress today rushed AICC secretary Bhupen Borah to Agartala to take stock of the situation after the split. In Meghalaya, dissident MLAs and leaders are awaiting a response from the high command but the AICC is yet to appoint a new in charge for the state after V Narayanasamy, the earlier AICC pointsman, took over as Chief Minister of Puducherry.
Meghalaya Congress president D D Lapang said he has conveyed the views of the MLAs to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul and is waiting for orders to resolve the rebellion against Chief Minister Mukul Sangma.
A day after he announced formation of a new party, the AICC today removed Ajit Jogi from the CWC and as Chairman of the Scheduled Tribes department. That’s “good riddance,” said AICC General Secretary in charge of Chhattisgarh B K Hariprasad. “Jogi was de facto Chief Minister of BJP, he acts according to Raman Singh. Be it Antagarh or his attack against the Congress leadership. Finally he will merge his party with the BJP.”
Kamat’s exit came after a long-drawn battle with Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam. Sources said he, like Jogi, also wanted a Rajya Sabha nomination which didn;t come his way. Sources said Kamat also felt that Rahul had put his weight behind Nirupam. But Congress \communication department head Randeep Surjewala said Kamat had not resigned from the party but only as AICC General Secretary. “His role and responsibility in the party will be defined in discussion with him,” he said.