The Congress couldn’t have asked for a better turn of events. With its principal rival, the BJP, in disarray with a key ally exiting the NDA, the Congress is clearly trying to project an image of cohesion and political sagacity with its latest Cabinet reshuffle and party reorganisation. Many see the distinct stamp of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on the allocation of duties in the party and clearly considerable thought seems to have gone into this.
The main focus will, of course, be on Uttar Pradesh which really holds the key to who will govern India. Here, the party has justifiably given the charge to Madhusudan Mistry after he successfully steered the campaign in Karnataka. Now many may argue that Karnataka was ripe for the taking given the chaos in the ruling BJP but nevertheless, the Congress wrested the state in the face of an intense campaign by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. The induction of two ministers from the state is also aimed at consolidation there.
Though Uttar Pradesh has been taken away from him, Digvijaya Singh has been given the onerous task of dealing with Andhra Pradesh, a crown of thorns if there ever was one. The Congress has been in a complete state of drift in Andhra Pradesh faced as it is with the challenge of the YSR Congress and its chief Jaganmohan Reddy.
Despite facing a number of cases of financial impropriety, Jaganmohan Reddy is a formidable challenge to the Congress. Digvijaya Singh, it is expected, will use his personal equation with the family of the late chief minister to try and bring about a rapprochement.
The party has also weeded out some of the non-performers without too much of a fuss being made of it. But while filling up Cabinet posts was necessary in what could be the last reshuffle before the elections, the party is still not utilising the resources it has effectively.
It has a very talented second rung of young ministers who should be given far more responsibility than at present. If the party wants to appeal to the youth demographic, it needs to showcase these young politicians as future leaders. It is time that their ideas and strategies were showcased more especially given that the charge is now being led by Rahul Gandhi.
The reshuffle is also aimed at strengthening the party in poll-bound states like Rajasthan. Like the BJP, the Congress too needs some big ideas now. Of course, its schemes like the food security Bill will earn it brownie points with the electorate but it has to come up with something that the youth demographic can develop a stake in.
One, of course, would be job generation and so far, the party has not had much to say on how it would go about this. The changes will have to be backed by strategy and people will be expecting to see that in the coming months. But at least for the moment, the Congress has signaled that it is going into election mode and that everyone in the party is on the same page.