By Rahil Nora Chopra
With Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as Congress president officially completed, all eyes are now on who will all make it into his team. The general view is that Rahul will have a good mix of the old and young to help him run the party. But he seems to be in no hurry to reconstitute the powerful Congress Working Committee (CWC) and the AICC. What role Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel will play in the new dispensation is not clear. Some senior functionaries, such as Digvijay Singh, Ambika Soni and BK Hari Prasad, had already requested the party leadership to relieve them of all their responsibilities. It is believed that poor performers like Mohan Prakash, CP Joshi, Mukul Wasnik and a few others are likely to be axed, giving way to young leaders such as Sachin Pilot, Ajay Maken, Randeep Surjewala, Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia and Sharmistha Mukherjee. Also requiring clarity is the role Sonia Gandhi will assume in the new set-up. The party is keen that she continues as the UPA Chairperson as well as the chief of the parliamentary board. The Congress allies feel comfortable dealing with Sonia and are unaccustomed to interacting with Rahul, except for a few young generation leaders, such as Akhilesh Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav. Observers are also curious on the role Priyanka will be assigned in the new structure.
FOCUS SHIFTS TO OPPOSITION LEADER CHOICE
With the Congress losing both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the focus now shifts to the choice of the leader of the Opposition in the two states. Almost all of the top leaders, such as Arjun Modhwadia, Shaktisinh Gohil, Siddharth, Chimanbhai Patel and Tushar Chaudhary have lost and therefore 41-year old Paresh Dhanani could be the leader of Opposition in Gujarat. Dhanani came out on top in his fight against BJP’s Bavku Undhad in the Patidar dominated Amreli district of Saurashtra. He has thus scored his third victory in a row. Paresh Dhanani is close to Rahul Gandhi. Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, the youth leaders from the backward classes, are expected to get bigger roles. Similarly, in Himachal Pradesh, veterans like Kaul Singh Thakur, G S Bali and Sudhir Sharma have lost. Vidya Stokes did not contest. PCC president Sukhinder Singh Sukhu and AICC general secretary Asha Kumari have won and indications are that Asha Kumari could be the next CLP leader as she is considered close to Rahul Gandhi.
THAKURS, NADDA IN BJP LIST OF HP CM PROBABLES
The defeat of Prem Kumar Dhumal has made the BJP’s chief ministerial choice an open issue. The names doing the rounds include, among others, that of Jairam Thakur, who is the senior leader of Himachal Pradesh BJP. He has been called to Delhi by the party leadership for discussions. The central leadership is understood to have also discussed the names of JP Nadda, Jairam Thakur and Anurag Thakur as probables. The BJP parliamentary board is expected to take a final call on who will ultimately make it. As for Gujarat, there is a possibility that the party could appoint a new chief minister despite Vijay Rupani beating his Congress rival Indranil Rajyaguru in Rajkot West, although Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and Vijay Rupani are both in the race for the top post.
SHARAD SCORES OVER NITISH IN GUJARAT SIDE PLAY
All the 38 candidates of Nitish Kumar JD(U) party lost their deposits in the Gujarat elections, but dissident Janata Dal United leader Sharad Yadav found some success when two of the five candidates it fielded were elected. The 72 year old Chhotubhai Vasava won his seventh straight election from Jhagadia in Bharuch, contested on a ticket of the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), while his son Mahesh Vasava too sailed through in Dediapada in Narmada district. NCP won one seat, while all the candidates of Aam Aadmi party lost their deposits. Obviously, Nitish Kumar had put his candidates to help the BJP. (IPA)