Dramatic Changes and More in the Offing
By Santwana Bhattacharya | Published: 22nd December 2013 07:40 AM |
Hours after Jayanthi Natarajan’s exit from the Cabinet, Rahul Gandhi told industry honchos: “I’m sure you cannot have a situation where the Environment Minister (quickly adding)—or a CM alone takes decisions on your projects. We have to have a system—a transparent mechanism in place.”
It is now quite apparent, the “dramatic changes and more” that Rahul promised to bring about in the party standing at the forecourt of the AICC headquarters on December 8, may not be delayed. There could be more ministers on their way to the AICC headquarters. Topping the list of those who could be recalled for party work is Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.
Though Ramesh heads a ministry that is crucial to the Congress’ scheme of things, his skills in drafting manifestoes, catchy slogans and strategies for elections are equally valued. He’s was one of the Congress’ main anchors in the 2004 and 2009 elections. Next in line is young Minister of Corporate Affairs Sachin Pilot, who may be made the Rajasthan PCC chief to shore up the Congress fortunes after the assembly poll debacle.
MoS Defence/Sports Jitendra Singh, another young leader from Rajasthan close to Rahul, could also be back to help the Vee-Pee. Among the others, the names of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada are also doing the round. “There’s a strong possibility that Rahul’s own young team members are going come to the party replacing older group of non-performing general secretaries,” a senior Congress leader said. However, some of the ministers when contacted said that they have not been asked by the party high command to put in their papers, at not yet, indicating that it won’t be voluntary service but a move that will be undertaken on orders from the top.
Those who have seen Rahul transformation in the last few months are convinced that he will not dither to make drastic changes “whatever the out-come”. And, once he speaks every one falls in line as if in awe of him, especially in the government. But, the changes in the party may coincide with the AICC session scheduled on January 17, along with an announcement on the party’s PM candidate. Asked whether Rahul’s named as the candidate, Janardan Dwivedi, general secretary, organisation, “Anything can happen, we will discuss and decide.’’
The Congress Vice President who first made his presence felt by denouncing in public a controversial ordinance giving relief to convicted MPs/MLAs forcing the government to withdrew it, has already taken over the reins of the party. His position was reaffirmed with his appealed to all political parties for passing the Lokpal bill flanked by three top Union Ministers—P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and V Narayanasamy. The government geared into action, the bill was passed by Parliament in the next two days.
Those who are privy to Rahul’s angry outburst over the US action against senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade, say that it was his reaction and refusal to meet the US Congressional delegation that prompted the External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to read out the riot act to the US State Department. “Unlike the CP, Rahulji does not believe in prolonged consensus building, once he decides he articulates position and that is it,’’ says K Raju, a close aide Rahul. In fact, on Telangana, Raju says, it’s “our Vice President’s call that a decision be taken’’ that resulted in the subsequent action and the GoM submitting the report on bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh within two weeks.’’
Once the dismal assembly polls results for the Congress were out, Rahul moved in and hinted at structural changes in the Congress party, known to break existing status quos whenever in deep crisis. That’s exactly how they acted when the Kamaraj plan was put in place and when Sonia (Gandhi) was drafted in to take over the party, a top political analyst pointed out.
Rahul’s “body language has completely changed, he means business and he’s determined to have his way,” a senior Congress Minister told Sunday Standard/Express. What the Congressman also hinted not without surprise was that the “CP is completely is backing the VP, she’s allowing him to take the decisions—she’s only signing on the orders.”
Whenever there is a crisis of existence that threatens the party, the Gandhis are known to take dramatic decisions. It started with the Kamaraj Plan, when the party had lost its sheen after India was defeated by China in 1061. Senior ministers quit to do party work at the grassroots in a template called the Kamaraj Plan. Indira Gandhi known to be most “decisive’’ of the leader in the party felled Kamaraj later, and removed and replaced chief ministers at will. Rajiv Gandhi, wanted to turn India into a techno-power had to get rid of Indira Gen Leaders like Kamalapati Tripathi and Pranab Mukherjee. Sitaram Kesari was literally ejected as Congress chief to make for Sonia, and many heavyweights like Sharad Pawar, Tariq Anwar, P A Sangma left the party. In December 2012, cabinet ministers Ambika Soni, S M Krishna, Mukul Wasnik, Subodh Kant Sahay and Mahadev Khandela quit their posts to “work for the party.” Rahul is only following in the family footsteps.