Rahul Gandhi has shown political nous and a sense of realism in the latest Congress reshuffle
Those who thought that Rahul Gandhi would, like his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi did when he took over the reins of party and government after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, induct those close to him personally and on the same wavelength apart from being from the same age-band, would be disappointed by the Congress president’s latest reshuffle. They should not be. Because what Rahul has shown, discounting the necessary bombast and aggression in public posturing that any Opposition leader must exhibit to keep the morale of his activists up in the face of a strong and unified ruling dispensation, is that he is a realist with a clear political understanding of the very different, virtually rump party he is attempting to resurrect and fashion into a fighting political force and the dominant force of Indian politics the Congress last was under his father’s leadership. It is in keeping with that understanding that the new appointments, especially of Ahmed Patel as party treasurer, ought to be seen by the Congress’ friends and foes alike.
Patel, a Rajya Sabha MP whom the BJP tried albeit in vain its best to ensure did not get re-elected from Gujarat has been a trusted aide, officially political secretary, of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for many years. But quite apart from his appointment being in the nature of waving a red cloth to his most prominent opponents from his home State, he has been in the thick of the Congress’ financial management for nearly three decades now. In an earlier term as treasurer for four years beginning 1996 when the long-serving party treasurer Sitaram Kesri was elevated to party president to 2000, he knows better than most how crucial resources are for a modern Indian election campaign. Na khaatanabahi, jo kaheKesri wo hi sahi was the ditty all senior Congress leaders swore by when Kesri was in charge of the party finances and insiders make it a point to recall that it was the younger Patel, then still in his late 40s, who realised the need to structure the mobilisation, investment and allocation of party funds in a systematic manner during his earlier stint as treasurer. His contacts with industrialists, network with Congress’ State leaders which his role as Sonia Gandhi’s go-to man over the past two decades cemented and his warm relationships with politicians as well as media across the spectrum are obviously what the Congress president is counting on to come through for the party in the run-up to the 2019 General Election. That he happens to be a Muslim by religion, while neither here nor there in itself, is not insignificant given the party’s current community-based support base. His predecessor Motilal Vora, close to 90, has been given due respect and accommodated in the nearly-created post of general secretary, administration.
The easing out of CP Joshi as party general secretary, who was thought to have become a liability over the past few years, and the re-induction of LuizinhoFaleiro in his place with charge of the North-East States sans Assam is also a reward for the Goa veteran who had ensured the Congress’ electoral dominance in the regions stayed intact till the advent of the Narendra Modi-led BJP and his own move back to his home State of Goa to take on the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP. The articulate and polished Anand Sharma’s appointment as the chairperson of the Congress’ foreign affairs in place of veteran Dr Karan Singh, however, is perhaps the only discordant note in the reshuffle given he was blooded in the non-aligned movement and at times seems to underestimate the role of the civilizational-cultural aspect to contemporary geopolitics.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer