NEW DELHI: Often seen as Rahul Gandhi’s voice, Milind Deora, who lost his South Mumbai seat to BJP in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, created quite a flutter on Thursday when he openly criticised the Congress vice president’s advisors. “Rahul Gandhi’s advisors did not have their ears to the ground and those with no electoral experience were calling the shots,” the young Congress leader who was a Minister of State in the Manmohan Singh government, said in an interview.
In an AICC headquarters already thick with recrimination, Milind’s comment acquired a life of its own with some senior leaders debating it in private and the plain-speaking ones, like Satyavrat Chaturvedi, backing it openly. “Milind has made a statement which is nothing more or less than introspection. I agree with a larger portion of what he said,” said Chaturvedi. Sensing the issue was going out of hand, a close aide of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul was rushed in to draw the media attention to the second part of Milind’s comment, where he said, “Rahul’s leadership alone could not be blamed, it was not about one person’s image but the people surrounding that person also.”
More surprisingly, the aide claimed that “those who did not want to see Rahul in a leadership role and wanted to corner power themselves, were spreading rumours”. Fuelling the controversy, another former MP from Mumbai, Priya Dutt, acknowledged that those “who had no connect with the people were calling the shots”.
Interestingly, all this revived the call of a more pronounced political role for Priyanka Vadra, beyond Amethi and Rae Bareli, with senior ministers like Veerappa Moily and young turks like Sachin Pilot, saying that the party needed help from all quarters for revival.