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Opinion Columnists 17 Dec 2017 Political Gup-Shup: ...
The writer is a Delhi-based journalist.

Political Gup-Shup: Of worried Cong leaders & pragmatic corporates

Published Dec 17, 2017, 5:59 am IST
Updated Dec 17, 2017, 5:59 am IST
Sonia loyalists were not happy when it was suggested that a farewell dinner be hosted for her over the weekend.
It is, therefore, being suggested that Mrs Gandhi be designated Congress patron in recognition of her contribution as party president.
 It is, therefore, being suggested that Mrs Gandhi be designated Congress patron in recognition of her contribution as party president.

With Rahul Gandhi taking charge as Congress president, senior leaders, who have worked closely with Mrs Sonia Gandhi during her 19-year tenure as party chief, are feeling insecure about their role in the new set-up. Consequently, Sonia loyalists were not happy when it was suggested that a farewell dinner be hosted for her over the weekend. The proposal met with resistance on the plea that Mrs Gandhi was not retiring from politics and that her involvement in party affairs will not come to a halt since she continues to be the chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and head of the Congress Parliamentary Party. In addition, she will remain a member of the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision-making body. Though they are putting up a brave face, saying the generational change was long overdue, the party’s old guard is hoping that Mrs Gandhi will continue her engagement with the party in some form or the other so that she is available to hear them in case they have a grievance.  It is, therefore, being suggested that Mrs Gandhi be designated Congress patron in recognition of her contribution as party president.

The rivalry between Sachin Pilot and former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot is an open secret. Though Mr Pilot is heading Rajasthan Congress and working hard to put the Vasundhara Raje government on the mat, party circles maintain that Mr Gehlot will eventually emerge as the chief ministerial candidate if Congress wins in next year’s Assembly elections. Mr Gehlot’s adversaries, therefore, heaved a sigh of relief when the Congress leadership told him to  take charge of the Gujarat Assembly polls as this meant he would be away from his home state. Convinced that the party  stood little chance in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, Gehlot-baiters have been a worried lot following reports that the Congress is giving a tough fight to BJP.  They are hoping the Congress does not fare well in Gujarat because the former chief minister’s stock in the party will skyrocket in case of a victory. while in Gujarat, Mr Gehlot has not only gained proximity to Mr Gandhi but has also deployed party workers from Rajasthan  as observers in all the districts in the state to keep them in good humour. Clearly,  he has his eyes set on Rajasthan.

 

As pragmatists, industrialists are known to keep their options open as far as political parties are concerned. But in 2014, an unhappy corporate sector turned its back on the Congress and threw its lot with the BJP. But, of late, the mood appears to have changed. Though the Congress is not seen as a likely winner in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the corporate sector has, nevertheless, decided to touch base with the grand old party once again. The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry invited Congress president Rahul Gandhi to deliver the valedictory address at its annual meeting some months ago. Now, a couple of leading industrialists, known to be close to the Modi government, have sought appointment with him. This is a throwback to the pre-2004 period when a number of leading industrialists had called on Mrs Sonia Gandhi on the eve of the Lok Sabha election results. In fact, the thaw had set in two years earlier in 2002 when the CII invited her for the opening session of its annual meeting. Mrs had then used the occasion to take a dig at her political opponents. “When the leader of the Opposition is invited by the country’s leading industrialists to start off their annual get-together, it is natural to speculate — now, what could be the motive; what sort of political winds are blowing and in what direction,” she had remarked.

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