New Delhi : The battle between the old guard and the Rahul brigade in the Congress party is out in the open. Senior party leader Janardan Dwivedi, who has been a general secretary for several years and was the party spokesperson for the bulk of the UPA years, has now observed that ‘‘much attention was not given to the party organization when the party was in power.”

This is a thinly disguised attack on the party vice-president Rahul Gandhi who has steadfastly declined a ministerial responsibility in the UPA government and refused to accept the challenge of leading the party’s opposition in the Lok Sabha on the grounds that he wants to concentrate on building the party. Coming from Dwivedi who has been the party’s voice on all critical and crucial occasions like the party’s meeting of the its apex decision making body — the Congress Working Committee — this statement only indicates the extent of divide between Rahul Gandhi and the party’s old guard.Dwivedi did have a charitable explanation for this neglect as he rationalized that the party leadership was busy from one election to another and perhaps because of this involvement could not devote much attention to the organization. But he added, ”In a political organization, one or the other activity keeps happening. But in my opinion, now the organization is most important. In my view as long we had a government at Centre, much attention was not given to the organization.”

Rahul’s style of functioning and his reliance on aides like Madhusudan Mistry, C P Joshi and Mohan Prakash has been the subject of much internal debate and criticism. Even the youth Congress leaders who have been elected through a system of grass root elections have been reportedly critical of this approach. But he has shown no signs of deviating from that path, and is reportedly bent upon introducing the same practices in the entire organizational structure.

Perhaps, it is for this reason that the Congress president Sonia Gandhi has come out boldly to assert that she would be leading the rebuilding effort from the front. But then Dwivedi’s observations have also a hint of anti-Sonia undertones, as she has always retained the final authority on organizational matters.

Last month, ex-Kerala minister TH Mustafa demanded Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s ouster for leading their party to its worst-ever performance, and described him as a “joker”.”He should resign from the party. He should not continue. If he doesn’t resign voluntarily, he should be sacked,” Mustafa had said.

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