In a party where A K Antony — often referred as St Antony — was considered among the revered inner pantheon against whom not a word could be uttered, his stock is plummeting fast. For a variety of reasons that eerily coincided, as if by divine fiat, the meltdown of the Congress’ oldest Mr Clean is well and truly on.
It’s not exactly his moral reputation that has been besmirched though. Rather, it’s a show of political and administrative ineptitude that has felled him in the eyes of the party’s already disgruntled rank and file.
Forget about the series of Navy accidents, which have hit the headlines almost as if according to someone’s plan. Antony has raised hackles of his party with his spectacular mismanagement of vital pre-election duties entrusted to him — finding friends and finalising the manifesto.
Just two weeks to go before the first phase of polling in Assam and Tripura, the Congress manifesto is not ready. Deferred twice, last time for glaring editing errors which could not be corrected on the run, the AICC headquarters is finally being decked up for the manifesto release on Wednesday.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party vice president Rahul Gandhi and the entire top brass would be in attendance to paper over the differences. Nonetheless, miffed party insiders question the “inordinate delay”.
A senior party leader admitted that Rahul’s idea of taking feedback from stakeholders lengthened the process somewhat, but the finalisation of the draft was delayed also due to Antony’s pre-occupation in the Defence Ministry. Grumbled a member of Rahul’s inner team, for weeks the meetings could not be held to approve the draft. Not to mention the delay caused by the Himachal unit of the party, which was supposed to give crucial inputs from ex-servicemen on the one-rank one-post issue.