Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is planning to do a BJP on his party — an extensive organisational overhaul that will see many powerful veterans make way for Gen Next leaders handpicked by him, HT has learnt.
The party’s highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), would see a generational shift. Most of the general secretaries and state in-charges, too, are likely to be dropped, a party leader in know of Rahul’s plan told HT.
“Senior leaders will be around but their role will be more of margdarshaks (guides), much like what the BJP created for LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi,” a Congress leader close to Rahul told HT on condition of anonymity.
After its worst-ever Lok Sabha performance this summer, the Congress has often seen the old guard and young leaders clash on the way the party is run. Many seniors have blamed the “Rahul brigade” for the party’s humiliation.
Rahul’s “reform plan” would be pushed after the October 15 Maharashtra and Haryana state polls, sources said.
Many Nehru-Gandhi family loyalists, who supported Sonia Gandhi during the ‘trying’ Narasimha Rao years and later, could see their long innings draw to a close, sources said.
“I’m not sure whether Soniaji will agree to Rahul’s proposal to dump those who made her a success story in Indian politics,” a party veteran said.
“Rahul’s own team has virtually been running all elections since 2012 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. He may need to replace them first.”
“As for us, we will accept whatever Soniaji decides. You really need some radical steps to rejuvenate the Congress and if it means retirement for us, so be it.”
Sonia, he said, would go by Rahul’s plan as it is he who would eventually take over the party. “She may find it better to let Rahul make the changes he wants when she is at the helm,” a Congress functionary said.
“Rahul’s aides often argue that he “never got a free hand”, whether it was in picking candidates or devising the poll strategy. “The seniors always managed to get their way,” a young leader said, pointing to how chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda got his pick of candidates for the state elections.
Veterans, however, wonder if the party has enough talent to carry out what one of them described as Rahul’s “poore ghar ke badal daloonga” plan, borrowing the tagline from an old advertisement for a light bulb that talked of a complete overhaul.
“His close aide Madhusudan Mistry, in-charge of UP, drew a blank in the Lok Sabha election. Mohan Prakash has the record of finishing the party in every state that he has been given control of, be it Gujarat, J-K or Maharashtra,” a party general secretary said.
“Both Soniaji and Rahul talk about the party’s utter failure to communicate with people, but who has been in charge of the media department? Rahul’s close aide Ajay Maken.”
The 44-year-old leader’s so-called experiments in states have not met with much success.
While Rajasthan chief Sachin Pilot salvaged his reputation in the recent assembly bypolls, his counterparts in Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have failed to make any impact.
Similarly, Rahul-appointed leaders in Uttar Pradesh could all but watch from the sidelines the party’s decimation in the state that sends the highest number of MPs, 80, to the Lok Sabha. “For long, we have been blamed. Let him (Rahul) take charge and turn it around,” a party veteran said.