Rejig talk in the air, and a clueless Congress

Written by Express news service | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 28 2014, 18:46pm hrs
ABOUT six weeks after the party suffered its worst-ever drubbing in the LS polls, Congress leaders are clueless about the way forward and are awaiting a signal from the high command. While many of the lawyer-turned-politicians like Salman Khurshid, Kapil Sibal and Manish Tewari have gone back to practice law, others have been left to speculate about their future. On directions from AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, several office-bearers have started making an appearance at the party headquarters, but remain listless about the course the party would take.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has been taking feedback from a wide spectrum of leaders, has opted to take a break in the cooler climes of Uttarakhand, while vice-president Rahul has been holidaying abro-ad for over 10 days. Both are expected to be back in the next couple of days and everybody in the party is hoping they come back fr-esh with some out-of-the-box ide-as to rejuvenate the party.

Since the Congress Working Committee authorised Sonia to take whatever steps necessary to revamp the organisation at all levels, the only visible change has been the uncertainty around th-ree party CMs Tarun Gogoi in Assam, Prithviraj Chavan in Maharashtra and Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Haryana. They should know that victory or defeat, they owe their position to the Nehru-Gandhi family, said a senior leader in apparent sarcasm.

The Congress president disbanded many PCCs after the CWC meeting, but the party remains clueless about the way forward. For instance, AICC general secretary in charge of UP Madhusudan Mistry along with four secretaries are now scheduled to visit UP to understand what can be done. Amid speculation about replacement of about a dozen PCC chiefs in coming weeks, those at the helm of affairs in state units have dropped anchor to await a word from New Delhi. The AICC reshuffle remains a talk in the air and the lack of direction and clarity is visible at all levels.

Mistrys colleague Ambika Soni travelled to J&K and chaired a two-day meeting with the top brass of the state party on continuation of ties with the National Conference. While the state unit wants the party to go alone in the forthcoming polls, there is no signal from Sonia or Rahul on the issue, leaving the state Congress in a limbo. Similarly, B K Haripr-asad and Jairam Ramesh went to Jharkhand to attend a PCC-organised Chintan Shivir. Ramesh got a hostile reception as angry party workers blamed him for the poll debacle in the state.

Amid this obvious organisational disarray, the attack on the government be it on V K Singh affidavit issue or allegations against Nihalchand Meghwal has been half-hearted at best. Many in the party foresee no change at all. In the Congress, the more things change, the more they remain the same, a senior general secretary said.

So everything, even the soul-searching, is on predictable lines with talks about holding another chintan shivir or an expanded AICC session. Another A K Antony committee is in place to look into the reasons for the defeat and suggest the way forward while the AICC has notified the timeline for the once-in-five-year organisational elections.

After the defeat, there were voices calling for radical reforms. Some blamed Rahuls core team of advisors while others blamed the Manmohan Singh government. The dissent died down soon as expected. One understands that Rahul wants to replace all veterans but how will he do that when his young nominees, the PCC chiefs, in Rajasthan Haryana and MP came a cropper in the polls. There was so much hype about his democratisation experiments but we did not see any Youth Congress or the NSUI in polls. The party vice-president also has a lot of introspection to do, said an AICC functionary.

Leaders expect an organisational reshuffle next month. Though none of them know Sonias or Rahuls mind, the conclusion is deduced from the fact that the Antony panel has been told to wrap up its work in the first two weeks of next month.