NEW DELHI: The Congress can be caught in “short-term” bickering, but vice-president Rahul Gandhi is still into “long-term” planning.
At a recent ‘review meeting’, he directed the All India Congress Committee SC department members to prepare leaders, who can contest from the Reserved constituencies in the next general elections, in 2019.
Overcoming the “deep depression” that the 2014 poll debacle had caused him, Rahul is back to doing what he likes best -- planning for the future. Contrary to reports, the AICC SC Cell meeting convened by Rahul on Thursday last “did not focus on the past performance, but on the future roadmap”.
Sources say, the Congress scion sees an opportunity to revive the party’s Dalit vote bank after the decimation of Mayawati-led BSP in UP.
It is another matter that the BSP and even the SP’s washout in the Lok Sabha elections was brought about by a sizeable swing of the Dalit and OBC votes towards the BJP, now being led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, projected as a backward caste leader in the elections.
Says a Facebook group of analysts, “It’s surprising, how much the Dalit and the backward communities, particularly the educated -- the intellectuals, and the poets -- among them have come out in support of Modi, whose rise they see as empowerment. There’s, in fact, a proportional rise in critiques on (Mahatma) Gandhi’s political philosophy vis-à-vis the Dalit communities and the support that Modi generates.”
However, none of this came up during Rahul’s brainstorming “review meeting” with the SC Cell as he still seemed bent on positioning his pro-Dalit, pro-poor politics, without factoring in Modi.
The Congress v-p, sources close to him say, seems to be seeing the Modi phenomenon more as a “build-up, a fluke” rather than a decisive turn in Indian politics.
At Rahul’s behest, the SC Cell adopted a plan “to effectively raise Dalit concerns in the different states with a five-year timeline, through which the party will identify and groom state-level SC leaders, strengthen the Dalit voice within the party and mainstream their concerns”.
His plan is to channelise the erosion of Dalit and the Backward caste votes from the BSP and SP to the Congress fold, a party insider who attended the meeting said, adding that Rahul is not bothered about the “petty, self-serving politics” of many of the dissident leaders.