NEW DELHI: Faced with severe challenges and election debacles, not just in Assemblies but also in the Rajya Sabha polls, the Congress decided to bring back Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kamal Nath, old warhorses of Sanjay Gandhi vintage, to the fore front to handle two key poll-bound states, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, but had a contrary effect that has left the party divided.
While jubilant UP state Congress leaders and workers descended on the AICC headquarters on Monday to celebrate Azad’s appointment, its media unit had to spend half the day aggressively defending Kamal Nath’s appointment as the Punjab in-charge.
Before Nath can a make any difference in the Punjab elections, both he and the party would be busy deflecting allegations against him relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
No sooner was his name announced by the Congress than the AAP and the ruling Akali-BJP alliance and started raking up the uncomfortable past of the horrific 1984 riots — giving out signals that the appointment can backfire.
The Congress which was in deep freeze in anticipation of “structural changes’’ that will bring the younger generation to the frontal posts along with Rahul Gandhi suddenly seemed hit by a bolt.
Nath has not managed state polls for the party since the 2002 Gujarat election washout where the Congress was accused of playing soft-Hindutva; Azad and the late YSR had crafted the return of the Congress in Andhra Pradesh.
For the large part of the day, AICC spokesperson Anand Sharma virulently defended Nath saying that he was either not mentioned or exonerated by all the Commissions set up to probe on the 1984 abti-Sikh riots.