Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi at Parliament during the ongoing Winter Session, New Delhi, Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi at Parliament during the ongoing Winter Session, New Delhi, Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019.
Photo by PTI

New Delhi: Nana Patole, who was elected unopposed as the Assembly Speaker in Maharashtra on Sunday, is the second Rahul Gandhi nominee to get a plum post in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) dispensation.

Earlier, Nitin Raut, known to be close to the former Congress president who quit the party post after 2019 Lok Sabha debacle, was sworn in as a Minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress alliance government.

Both Raut and Patole had been elevated to the national politics by Rahul Gandhi when he was at the helm of the Congress.

Raut was appointed head of the party Scheduled Caste (SC) department, and Nana the Kisan Cell head, when K Raju, a former bureaucrat, was made in-charge to manage Rahul Gandhi’s office.

“Rahul Gandhi may not be the party president, but the decisions taken by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) or interim party chief Sonia Gandhi have an evident stamp of the Gandhi scion. Also, all decisions are finally vetted by him,” said a senior Congress leader.

To the party leaders, lobbying to become a Minister in the Thackeray government or get a lucrative assignment, the two recent decisions have made it clear that they need to impress Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi’s continued importance in the party affairs is also evident from the fact that K.C. Venugopal, General Secretary (Organisation) who is known to be close to the former party chief, was part of every negotiation related to Maharashtra.

He was a member of the trio that took important decisions. Other members of the team were Ahmed Patel and Mallikarjun Kharge.

Though even minor party decisions are taken after his approval, say party insiders, Rahul Gandhi’s suggestions, like non-removal of Ashok Tanwar from the Haryana Congress chief’s post and appointment of Jyodiratiya Scindia as Madhya Pradesh party chief, have also been ignored.

While the former Congress chief is set to to kick-start election campaign in Jharkhand on Monday, name of Priyanka Gandhi is missing from the list of star campaigners. “She is focusing on the revival of the Congress in UP,” sources said.

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