Knives out for Rahul coterie after bitter Goa

Even as party MLA Vishwajit Rane quits over leadership’s failure to capture Panaji, GoP veterans voice existential concerns

Published: 17th March 2017 03:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th March 2017 09:19 AM   |  A+A-

VIshwajit Rane

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: On a day that Manohar Parrikar firmly anchored himself as the Goa Chief Minister — smoothly sailing through a trust vote in the 40-member Assembly, proving his opponent camp’s Digvijaya Singh’s “we’ll defeat him on the floor’’ bluster utterly hollow — another Congressman tried giving the party an urgent wake-up call.

Mani Shankar Aiyar, a former UPA minister considered an old Gandhi-family loyalist, rather bluntly put out his thought that the Congress was no longer the “natural party of governance’’ and the survival of the Nehruvian “Idea of ‘inclusive’ India’’ can only survive with an “inclusive alliance’’.
In a more cruel irony, while Parrikar managed to get 22 votes, one more than required, with the support of Goa Forward Party and Maharashtra Gomantak Party and a lone NCP MLA, the Congress could not even manage to retain its entire flock of 17.

Vishwajit Rane, a senior Congressman and son of a former CM, left the house after taking oath as a legislator. In other words, he abstained from voting in a symbolic protest, as much against his own party as anything else, and reduced the Congress tally to 16. Talking to Express from Panaji, he said he has “quit the party’’ and has “all options open before him’’, including joining the Parrikar-led coalition government.
Comparing the swiftness with which Parrikar quit his Defence Ministry portfolio to the confused and slothful Congress high command, which could not give clearance to Digambar Kamath’s candidature in 24 hours, Rane claimed  the old party has “no future’’.

Well, it’s on how a future can still be eked out that Aiyar recommended that the Congress Vice President adopt Sonia Gandhi “pragmatism’’ which yielded them the UPA coalition and a decade of rule in the Centre, and survive against the rise and tidal onslaught of the alternative idea that the BJP represented. And, Aiyar was not alone smelling the coffee. Satyavrat Chaturvedi, another senior Congress leader, said that may be it was too late for just “structural changes’’. That was Rahul Gandhi’s prescription for the deep coma the Congress seemed to be in after its worst ever performance in UP.

Rahul, who was to said have been ‘too down’ after the UP debacle, had publicly spoken of only a slight downer for the Congress in the disastrous UP and Uttarakhand results. But it has come to a point where even a Veerappa Moily and a Renuka Chowdhury sought surgical strikes against the coterie around Rahul, besides of course Kishore Chandra Deo.

 Their implicit target was Digvijaya Singh, who scripted the spectacular Titanic act in Goa, taking the sheen away from the party’s more than creditable rise to power in Punjab. End of the day, there no space in the public mind for Capt Amrinder Singh’s swearing-in ceremony, attended by Rahul and former PM Manmohan Singh.

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