Congress Tharoored; pitch laid for non-Gandhis to lead

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News Analysis

By Manish Anand

New Delhi, October 19: Losing candidate in the Congress president election Shashi Tharoor polled over 10 per cent of the votes in the Electoral College consisting of the delegates of the Pradesh Congress Committee, with his appeal sweeping through Kerala to New Delhi. While Mallikarjun Kharge predictably won the landslide victory, timid Congress satraps could soon become hopeful of life in the party, and heave a sigh of relief from “whims and fancies” decisions.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot will be pleased with Kharge’s victory sign after the outcome of the Congress president elections. He knows well that status quo prevails firmly in Congress. He will be the principal beneficiary of the status quo regime in Congress, and Sachin Pilot’s show of strength in the Gujjar land would go unnoticed.

While Congress is in the grip of the likes of Gehlot, the Pilots of the party would be seen flocking to Tharoor for guidance and inspiration to bid their time. Old watchers of Congress underline that each state unit of the party has a set of Gehlot, who are calling the shots currently, and there is equally strong impatient set of Pilots, who want to take control of the party. Haryana has Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his son Deependra Singh Hooda, while there is another set of leaders who are pushed away such as Randeep Surjewala and Ashok Tanwar, who had to quit the party. The script plays out in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, and Karnataka.

Jyotiraditya Scindia and Himanta Biswa Sarma too were on the wrong sides of the state Congress leadership, and their aspirations went unheard with the party high command. Now that Tharoor has shown that he can fight and at the same time engage the leadership of the party in conversations, Kharge cannot be seen a protector of the ‘haves in’ of the party in the state units. His actions would be under scanner, and there would be louder critiquing voice.

Kharge has said, as expected, that he would take the advices and guidance of the Gandhis. That he cannot avoid. But he would have to make a space for that remote control to be not so visible, which should offer the Tharoors of the party the much needed space to breathe. The Gandhis have lost their grip over the electoral politics of the country, and the upcoming polls may add to the weight of their irrelevance within the party.

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