By Nora Chopra
Rahul Gandhi who is away on leave to introspect about the future of the Congress party at an undisclosed destination suffered a major setback when his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi started the much-awaited AICC reshuffle in his absence.
Without waiting for Rahul who is tipped to be the Congress President at the AICC session scheduled in April next month, Sonia Gandhi appointed PCC chiefs in five states — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir. The fact that Sonia Gandhi who is under a tremendous pressure to continue as the party president for some more time made these appointments in Rahul Gandhi’s absence is being seen as a victory for the anti-Rahul camp.
In the last ten years, Gujarat, which is the home state of Sonia Gandhi’s’ political secretary, Ahmad Patel hasn’t seen a PCC chief without his consent. For a long time, congress leadership was on a look out to replace Arjun Modhwadia. Eyebrows were raised when finally; controversial Bharat Sinh Solanki succeeded Modwadia. Solanki, who got this opportunity for the second time is charged In a CD scandal.
Solanki first became PCC chief with the consent of Ahmad Patel in 2005 but had to be removed when he got implicated in a CD. This time he has been recommended by Rahul’s favorite Madhusudan Mistry. Solanki is close to Shanker Singh Vaghela who is at loggerheads with Ahmad Patel.
The appointment of Ashok Chavan PCC chef in Maharashtra is also controversy-ridden. He is yet be exonerated by the court in the Adarsh case due to which he had to resign from his chief Ministership. At the time of elections, in a reply to a question on Ashok Chavan while briefing the media at the AICC headquarters, Rahul had made it clear that there was no question of compromise on corruption. Sources in the party claim that Rahul would have preferred ex-youth congress Chief Rajiv Chavan’s appointment as PCC Chief.
Sanjay Nirupam’s appointment too has come for criticism from within the party as he is an outsider who joined the party just ten years ago. He came from Shiv Sena besides his alleged links with the D company are well known. Nirupam lost the Lok Sabha election by the highest margin of votes.
Ghulam Ahmad Mir the new appointee replacing Saifuddn Soz as PCC chief of J&K is said to be Ghulam Nabi Azad’s choice. He was implicated in a sex scandal. Mir’s appointment has sparked a revolt like situation in the hill, state.
And last but not the least important is the new PCC chief of Delhi. Ajay Makan a favorite of Rahul Gandhi, who led the Congress campaign for a zero seat in the recently concluded Delhi elections, Makan who was the AICC general secretary in charge of the media till recently lost his deposit both in the Lok Sabha as well as in the assembly polls. What wonders can he do in Delhi asked a senior AICC functionary? Is Makan’s appointment a demotion or a promotion from a general secretary to PCC chief? The question being asked is whose reshuffle is this- Sonia’s or Rahul’s?
The Nehru-Gandhi watchers claim that this, not the first time that Rahul has gone after a tiff with his mother. He has done it earlier too. Once he had gone off to London when he wanted to get married to his foreigner girlfriend and his mother is believed to have been against it. Later the family retainer Oscar Fernandez was dispatched to pacify him. Rahul is said to have inherited this tendency from his great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru who too was known for his obstinacy and short temper. In 1936 before he was elected the president of the Indian National Congress, he got so frustrated at the rise of the right-wingers in the Congress that he threatened to quit politics and went to Europe to attend to his ailing wife Kamala Nehru and refused to return back even despite requests from his party. In the meantime Kamala Nehru died but during that time congressmen got so worried that they elected him the President of the Congress. He was intimated and then persuaded to join.
Where is Rahul Gandhi? All kind of speculations are going on about his whereabouts. Some are saying he is in Bangkok, some say he is in Greece, somebody says he is in Uttarakhand. His office and the party say they do not know about his whereabouts. Party also said he has gone to introspect. So if he has gone to introspect, then he has surely gone to Burma or Myanmar. His intellectual guru and conscience keeper Sam Pitroda once told this correspondent that whenever the media speculates that Rahul has gone to some exotic place with his girlfriend he goes to Burma to introspect and do Vipassana meditation.