Amid endless speculation about what Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s “larger role” will be, the 42-year-old leader is quietly expanding his involvement in the running of the party across the country.
Over the last three months, Gandhi has individually met over 150 Congress MPs and scores of MLAs, reviewing the party’s affairs. “He met each of them for 10 to 25 minutes. The exercise is continuing,” said a Congress source.
Gandhi has also been briefed by other Congress general secretaries in charge of various states, besides chief ministers and union ministers, said party sources close to him.
“Immediately after the UP elections, he expanded his interactions beyond the party’s youth and student wings,” said a leader.
The Gandhi scion had last month announced he would play a more proactive role in politics.
This led to talk about whether Gandhi would take up a new role within the Congress or join the UPA government.
According to sources, Gandhi will not join the government as he fears it will create a parallel power centre and could undermine the PM’s position.
The Amethi MP’s imprint was apparent when young ministers Jitendra Singh, Jitin Prasada and RPN Singh were included in screening committees to shortlist party candidates in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh, Tripura and Gujarat.
Gandhi’s focus has been on BJP-ruled Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, where assembly elections are due soon.
He met about 25 leaders from Karnataka. One such leader said: “He wanted to know about infighting in the party and asked what should be done to win the state elections.”
In Gujarat, Gandhi enquired about the BJP and what the people wanted.
With Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, Gandhi discussed the future of the Congress-NCP alliance. He discussed the situation in Rajasthan with CM Ashok Gehlot.
With Andhra MPs, Gandhi’s focus was the impact of Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress on his party and the pros and cons of giving in to the demand for a Telangana state.
Gandhi regularly took reports on the recent unrest in Kokrajhar, Assam from the party and the state government.