As the dust settles from the mega national capital electoral showdown, the national media and the prominent political spin masters are busy coining new narrative of Congress Imploding Within – There is a rebellion within congress’s rank and file. The humungous impact that media holds in today’s Indian society, this narrative have more or less catched the imagination of the polity and figures in most of the living room political discussions. However what is defining in this narrative is the deafening silence from Congress. Generally known for the tendency to immune its high command from the perils of media scare, this is probably for the first time post Indira Gandhi’s era of Congress that such serious narrative is built on Congress’s internal glue : The Gandhis and their ability to mobilize cadre and party leaders. Well, does this signifies the complete erosion of congress’s resilience and will to put up a fight or a well charted off strategy by the party ? If we go by numbers : within the 1st year of General Elections ie 365 days post the new govt in power, NDA-I : Congress won 32% of seats it contested, NDA-II : Congress won 18% of seats it contested and NDA -III : Congress so far has won a whoomphing 47% of seats it contested along with returning to power in 2 states including the crucial state of Maharashtra. With Rahul Gandhi keeping himself limited to Kerala and few other public appearances to take direct pot-shots at PM Modi : What is the path that Mr Gandhi and Congress is trying to walk by ? Is it a drafted plan and if yes, are they both in synergy with the movement ?
The CWC meet on 25-May-2019 :
The images that remains with us of the 1st CWC meeting is that of an animated Rahul Gandhi resigning, reports of he being livid on the senior leaders of the party for trying make space for their wards or Randeep Surjewala cutting a sorry face at the media and saying “we all will urge Rahulji to take up the responsibility”. However has missed most of the public eye is the reported fact that Rahul Gandhi ended up his speech in CWC citing Gandhi – “Gandhiji was never Congress’s President yet he contributed majorly in party’s and nation’s fortunes, I from today will work free willingly for Party’s growth”. Ever since then, Rahul Gandhi’s movements have been quite unconventional and have missed the scrutiny of the media and his dictators much likely like the moves of Mahatma during his early days in freedom struggle were unthought off then and majority of the British Government dint perceived a threat from it. Similarly be it his frequent visits to schools of Kerala, attending science exhibition, crafting a customized line as Vyannad Tourism, investing heavily on RPN Singh in Jharkhand or staging the Yuva Aakrosh Rally in Jaipur when Delhi was on for polls. All these not only bemused the present times political commentators but also surprised many in the opposition However on detailed scrutiny of the recent movements of Rahul Gandhi, one think is certain : the Gandhi Scion is working on some charted plan and timeline. Whats that ? Well time will answer this or is the symptoms of it have already started showing colours
Changed Stakeholders : Is this Post Millennium Political Experiment
Be it the formulation of Seva-Dal to create political workers from the masses or be it beautification of the coalition dharma in mid 1990s, congress has always designed the political suite that the rest of the political players followed. As we sit today in the data driven millennial world where elections are becoming increasing rhetorical and presidential, are we at a verge of seeing another political realignment that would change the manner in which politics is being played out in this land ? A close scrutiny in which left has been used by congress, specifically by Rahul Gandhi. The rallying around the student wing of the left to make up for a trailing NSUI. The deliberate graft of playing into the Angry Young Indian to gravitate the youth against BJP without taking much of direct potshots at PM Modi.
His handling of the Kanhaiyas, the Swara Bhaskars or the Anurag Kashyaps have all but just pointed towards the fact that Rahul Gandhi is working based out of a blueprint – lesser known to the world and much more away from the glare and scrutiny of the political pundits. A template quite similar to the manner in which Mahatman Gandhi managed Bhagat Singh during the freedom struggle and the congress of Nehru and Gandhi managed the pre-independence left. The manner he has managed to formulate a package south and trying to regain the South India forte of Congress is again a hint towards the fact, the Gandhi scion is finally working on his module of politics. Rahul Gandhi has certainly changed her boundaries of politics and he is looking beyond realms of congress for taking on the might of RSS-Modi combined. This is set to change how politics will be played on ground and rumbles of this can be felt when Akhilesh Yadav( one of the prominent opposition leaders, extremely close with Rahul Gandhi) spoke in ABP HSS about adjustment and not coalition for UP Polls 2022 shows Rahul is all set to change the stakeholders of Congress, broaden it horizontally and make decisions for greater purpose and impact.
Rise of Regional Stars :
One of the major reason of Rahul Gandhi’s failure of reviving congress, is the young regional turks of congress have failed to deliver. The failure of the likes of Jitin Prasads, Meenakshi Natrajans, Jitendra Singhs can be considered Mr Gandhi’s failed attempt to re-energize the cadres of congress and take the party to the masses. One of the primary reason as complained by the majority of congressmen is that these leaders were picked top-down and they peaked at the Delhi circuit and unarguably struggled at the ground and secondly all of these leaders carried a media clout and glare alongside them, there by being even more inaccessible to the common congress worker. A close look at the emergence of the young regional mass leaders, it seems Rahul Gandhi has learnt his lesson and he is creating leaders with a greater appeal from the masses and then mounding them to the national landscape much like how Mahatma Gandhi created leaders with much regional impact : the likes of Gopabandhu Dash from Odisha, Asoka Mehta from Gujrat, Shri Krishna Singh from Bihar, Nanaji Deshmukh from Maharashtra etc.
Coming to the present context, Rahul Gandhi has carefully and strategically overseen the emergence of Amit Deshmukh and Deeraj Deshmukh from the hinterlands of Latur to the lanes of Mantralaya in Mumbai. Deeraj Deshmukh, 1st time MLA from Latur Rural is hugely popular amongst the youth is hailed as Deeraj Bhaiya by the public has NOTA as the runners up to him in the polls. Similarly his senior brother Amit Deshmukh a third time MLA has all the arsenal to travel all the way from Maratvada to the power corridors of Mumbai. Amit Deshmukh presently a cabinet minister in Udhav Thackrey’s Govt and immensely popular in Latur & Maratvada region is seen as Rahul Gandhi’s Maha Plan for Maharastra’s revival. Cutting straight to the only state that sends more MPs than Maharashtra, UP – it sees an unique and well charted rise of 3 young faces. Sachin Chaudhary, Deeraj Gujjar and Shruti Kashyap, all there of them are picked up strategically : Chaudhary contesting polls from Amroha patrolling West UP, Deeraj Gurjar the popular mass leader from Bhilwara Rajasthan have been camping in Lucknow and have been tasked with UP Central by Team Rahul. Gurjar’s handling of Central UP becomes even more crucial as it is aimed to fulfill the vacuum of an accepted mass muscle man leader within congress’s rank in a state that has an unique sense of reverence and acceptance of muscle power- a trait which every earlier lieutenants of Rahul to UP lacked. Third and the most meteorically risen one is Shruti Kashyap, the former business development head of an apparel giant. Kashyap is given the task of re-engineering the party’s connect at the micro level across the entire East UP and she has been camping in Varanasi since last 6 months on a daily basis. She has been seen at the all the strategic meets of Priyanka Gandhi and often cited as the 1st person to receive her at the airport along with the UPCC office bearers.
Similar Strategic moves can be seen in the rise in the ranks of Udit Raj in the north, Abha Prasad in Jharkhand, Abhishek Dutt and Devender Yadav in Delhi NCR. The striking difference this time however in the rise of these young regional leaders is two : (1) There is absolute synergy within the party office bearers and Team Rahul about these leaders. (2) All these leader come with a stem of strong support base either within these community or territory and now Rahul’s team plans to superimpose them onto a larger screen : respective states or zones may be.
Priyanka’s Enigma or Energy :
“Ye Andhi nahi dusri Indira Gandhi Hei, Ye Priyanka Gandhi Hei” Priyanka Gandhi’s last moment entry to UP’s political pitch was received with a high spirits by the congress workers, however the election results drew a black for congress except the lone seat of Sonia Gandhi. Much have seen ever since. To start with the modus-operandi and team of Priyanka Gandhi has been overhauled. What meets the public eye is the new faces in Team Priyanka and an absolute to Priyanka Gandhi when it comes to the decisions in UP however what has skipped the general scrutiny is Rahul Gandhi’s bigger strategical move beneath this. The decision to go all out in UP with Priyanka being the relatable face of the attack has hogged headlines for congress and catapulted party as the prime opposition to the oppression of the Yogi Government. Thus at least in the daily public discussion Congress is no more that irrelevant 4th player. With Ajay Kumar Lallu as UPCC President, Raj Babbar and RPN Singh (all OBC) hiving substantial clout in UP, the likes of Young Dolly Sharma and Lalitesh Tripathi (Brahmin) vested with crucial reorganization tasks in East and West UP respectively, Congress seems to have A-ed its social engineering game. Priyanka being vocal of the anti-CAA protests in UP and having the charismatic muslim voice in form of Imran Pratapgarhi in it’s ranks congress can certainly fancy a OBC-Brahmin-Muslim gratification towards in block more so ever after the unease within the Brahmins after Yogi Adityanath (Thakur) being the CM. More Importantly what the energy and the social engineering enigma of Priyanka Gandhi has given to Rahul Gandhi is the back-room space. He is been consciously away from the UP scenes and thus stays better positioned in closing an adjustment deal with Akhilesh as hinted by him. The effort taken by Priyanka Gandhi to mention Rahul Gandhi as her boss in party at every possible occasion strengthens the possibility of a backroom tactical adjustment by congress headed by Team Rahul.
The PK Factor :
Two months into 2020 and the one name that has dominated the political circles is Prashant Kishor. First due to the volley of words between him and Nitish kumar followed by the stupendous show by AAP and IPAC in Delhi and finally he stepping onto the political ring of Bihar and challenging to take Nitish Kumar head-on, on the development plank . However what raises eyebrows is the answer that Prashant Kishor gave on being asked about his political ideology : Egalitarian Humanism. The exact words that Rahul Gandhi said after filling his nominations back in 2004. Is this a mere ideological coincidence or much more than that ? Lets jot down few political activities after 2019 polls involving both PK and congress.
1. PK meets the Thackreys much before the elections, discusses strategies yet IPAC don’t work for Sena-BJP poll management, finally ShivSena skips NDA’s ship and joins UPA. The talk in the political circles is ripe about how PK has influenced the Thackreys on this move for the best interest of Sena and larger political realignment.
2. The absolute distancing of congress from TDP in Andhra Pradesh and the local unit of congress going soft on the ruling YSR congress. Needless to point PK was Jagan’s strategist in chief during AP polls.
3. Delhi polls Congress been completely decimated, however it was evident with an ailing Maken and demise of Sheila Dikshit- the Delhi Unit of congress was rendered leaderless who could be projected as the next CM of Delhi. The best that congress could achieve on the greater interest of opposition index is the not letting the anti-NDA votes split yet not making it look oblivious to avoid a religious polarization as attempted by BJP
Figuring out PK’s next ventures are in WB and Tamil-Nadu, with Congress seeming to be on a strong wicket in Kerala and Assam, it seems Rahul Gandhi has got his act together for the upcoming 4 elections and the only one that was missing was Bihar. There comes Baat Bihar Ki and PK explosive launch onto Bihar’s arena with sprawling Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait in the backdrop. The messaging is pretty evident and clear : PK is congress’s plan for Bihar and it is game on in Bihar.
In terms of animosity a Rahul confidant and member of Team Rahul affirmed half dozen meetings of RG(as they address Rahul Gandhi) and PK after 2019 polls. What is evident is thus Rahul Gandhi is thinking and probably finally he has got the ownership within the hallowed walls of India’s Oldest party or he has started looking beyond congress and establish a bigger and greater opposition index to tactically outwit the election machinery of Modi-RSS combine. What is evident is in today’s data ridden world where across the globe Presidential form of election has hogged the spotlight – Rahul Gandhi has dared or understood, it time for India to orchestrate another NAM of our times. This time Rahul Gandhi and his team isn’t only fixing up the holes on congress’s chamber but also are fighting fire with fire and making well meaning smaller sacrifices for greater good. 75 years of India’s Independence 2022 which coincides with UP Assembly polls which is known as the mother of all polls in India, is congress and Indian polity is all set to see the action scenes of the new avatar of the Gandhi scion unfolding ? Only time will answer However what is certain by the spring of 2020 is Rahul Gandhi is thinking and his lieutenants are busy charting is moves this time setting up the agenda and not being reactive to RSS-Modi’s moves. One this is for sure as you read this piece interesting times in Indian polity are ahead and congress under Rahul Gandhi has restored back to their best bet : the retro theme of Mahatma and Nehru, the initial results show they are pretty well relevant in today’s context and Rahul Gandhi is very much in the Game of Indian Democracy and far from running out of stem.