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Don’t jump queue: Ashok Gehlot to younger Congress colleagues

The remarks of Gehlot, 66, a former Rajasthan chief minister, come at a time when he is locked in an internal tussle with party state chief Sachin Pilot, 40, over the leadership issue ahead of the crucial assembly elections.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2018 23:41 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Ashok Gehlot,Congress,Sachin Pilot
If they (younger Congress leaders) try to break the line, they will be finished, says Gehlot.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot has cautioned young party colleagues to stay in the queue and not try to jump it, warning those who “break the line” that they risked a premature end to their political career.

The remarks of Gehlot, 66, a former Rajasthan chief minister, come at a time when he is locked in an internal tussle with party state chief Sachin Pilot, 40, over the leadership issue ahead of the crucial assembly elections. Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday appointed Gehlot as general secretary in charge of organisation and training.

Along with the appointment of Gehlot, Gandhi also made other key organisational changes, handing charge of Odisha and Gujarat to young leaders Jitendra Singh and Rajeev Satav, respectively.

“Rahul Gandhi wants the new leadership to emerge but the young leaders should learn to wait in the queue and not try to jump it,” Gehlot told Hindustan Times in an interview on Thursday.

“Then only, they will become the real leaders. If they try to break the line, they will be finished,” he said.

The old guard in the Congress has been feeling increasingly anxious about their future role in the organisation since Gandhi took over as the party chief in December last year.

For his part, Gandhi has repeatedly sought to reassure the seniors that a possible generational shift and proposed reforms in the organisational structure will not render them irrelevant in the party. He has often said that seniors and the GenNext will have to work together to revive the Congress.

“Rahul Gandhi has maintained that he will use the experience of seniors and energy of young leaders in reviving the Congress,” Gehlot said. “I have been witness to changes in Congress since the times of Indira Gandhi. The present senior leaders are all products of Youth Congress. Many of us became chief ministers and some general secretaries. When Rajiv Gandhi came, he promoted several young leaders and they got protection during Sonia Gandhi’s tenure. This debate is not new. Rahul Gandhi will not force the seniors to sit at home.”

In the coming days, Gandhi is expected to reconstitute the powerful Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body, and also carry out an organisational reshuffle to make it fighting fit for the 2019 general election, which will be preceded by a string of sate polls.

His predecessor and mother Sonia Gandhi said this month that the new Congress chief faces a tough task of striking a balance between the old guard and the young leaders.

“He wants a balance of young and seniors. It is not an easy task. But he has made it clear that he values the role and contributions of seniors,” she said at the India Today conclave in Mumbai on March 9.

First Published: Mar 30, 2018 23:40 IST