Ever since Rahul Gandhi resigned as Congress President, he seems to have been pushed to the sidelines as leaders said to be close to him are either quitting the party posts or being marginalised while targeting the old guard.
Ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, several leaders who were drafted into the party’s mainstream by Rahul are feeling left out.
At least two of the leaders – former Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar and former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam – have gone public in saying that those who were groomed by Rahul Gandhi are being sidelined in the party.
Not only in Maharashtra and Haryana, the Congress is mired in factionalism and ‘Old vs Young’ in several other states too.
In Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot is up in arms against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot while in Madhya Pradesh, Jyotiraditya Scindia is at loggerheads with Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh. Both Pilot and Scindia are considered close to Rahul but are unable to do anything against the old guard.
In Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who used to swear loyalty to Rahul, had to exit from the Punjab Government after differences with party veteran and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Rahul, while being silent on the developments, has startled everyone, on his part, by going abroad at a time when the Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana are round the corner.
The 49-year-old Gandhi family scion quit the party’s top post in the aftermath of the debacle in the Lok Sabha elections in May and the reins of the Congress were handed over to his mother Sonia Gandhi.
Tanwar, while quitting the party, said those “who were given important assignments in the party have been politically murdered”, apparently targeting Sonia Gandhi’s coterie which has taken over ever since she took command.
Nirupam also said that those close to Rahul were being ignored in the party, as he expressed unhappiness over his voice not being heard in ticket distribution.
However, a party leader sought to underline that Tanwar and Nirupam were not close to Rahul.
Nirupam was made MP by the Congress under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul was not at the helm of affairs then, a party leader said.
In fact, Nirupam has been having a running feud with Rahul’s close confidante Milind Deora, the leader added on condition of anonymity.
Similarly, Tanwar was made NSUI and Youth Congress President when Ahmed Patel was calling the shots, the leader said.
Tanwar also did not get along with former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his son Deepender Singh Hooda, who is considered close to Rahul Gandhi.
Another leader said if Rahul Gandhi had any problem with the new dispensation, he would have intervened. “But he quietly left for abroad, which means his consent is there.”
Rahul left for an unknown destination two days back and even the party seems to have no clue about his whereabouts.
However, as questions arose about his missing act, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi came to Rahul’s defence.
He tweeted, “The personal should not be mixed with the public life of an individual. We need to entitle everybody an eternal sense of liberty and privacy. After all, this is the basic and outlining principle of a progressive and liberal democracy “