Editorial: Congress rejig – too little, too late?

Editorial: Congress rejig – too little, too late?

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, December 25, 2023, 10:08 PM IST
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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra | File pic

In the wake of its recent humiliating defeat in three Hindi heartland states, the Congress party’s organisational reshuffle ahead of the big electoral battle of 2024 was expected but unfortunately it has been only a cosmetic exercise — a repeat of the same tired, old formula. The rejig does not bode well for the Grand Old Party because it is clear that no real thought has gone into the exercise. Fresh blood has not been inducted, no bold decisions have been made. Many Gandhi family loyalists have found place in the reconstituted AICC. While Sachin Pilot has been made general secretary in charge of Chhattisgarh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been stripped of her post as in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, indicating that her role will primarily be that of star campaigner. With both Pilot and Ashok Gehlot being given organisational responsibilities, there are all indications that the Rajasthan PCC will be headed by a new face. Veteran leader Ramesh Chennithala has not been made general secretary, but has been put in charge of Maharashtra, in a nod to his negotiating skills in the fractious Kerala unit of the party. Both Jairam Ramesh and K C Venugopal have retained their positions as communications in charge and general secretary in charge of organisation respectively.

With Priyanka Gandhi Vadra being replaced by the 65-year-old Avinash Pandey as the UP in-charge, it is clear that the Congress is resigned to the fact that it cannot make much of a dent in the populous northern state that is so crucial to any party’s electoral fortunes. In 2019, with Priyanka in charge, the Grand Old Party was able to secure only one seat in UP, making a humiliating exit from the Gandhi family bastion of Amethi where Rahul Gandhi lost to the feisty Smriti Irani. While the I.N.D.I.A alliance leaders such as Mamata Banerjee have been suggesting that Priyanka be put up from Varanasi in a direct fight with Prime Minster Narendra Modi, it is unlikely that she will agree to a contest that will result in her certain defeat. The Congress has a tough road ahead and it needs to take some hard decisions if it is to remain politically relevant. Cosmetic surgery of the kind effected by this rejig will serve no real purpose. There has to be a true brainstorming and an attempt to garner feedback from the block level upwards. The top down approach that the party has favoured will not stand it in good stead as two successive elections have proved. Amid calls for a Bharat Jodo Yatra 2.0 by Rahul Gandhi, it is very clear that the Congress must do some out-of-the-box thinking to succeed. And time is running out for the Grand Old Party.

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