Ripples from Assembly poll losses refuse to subside
The meeting of former Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday revived talks of a possible organisational reshuffle in the party.
Mr. Chennithala, who had shot off a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi to express his disappointment over the manner in which he was dropped from the LoP’s post, is expected to be made an All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary.
Officially, though, the Kerala leader told reporters that he had come to discuss the reasons for Congress’ loss in the recently Assembly elections.
The party is also faced with desertions and intense factionalism in States as diverse as Assam, Punjab and Rajasthan.
Barely days after Uttar Pradesh Congress leader Jitin Prasada quit to join the BJP, a four-time Assam lawmaker, Rupjyoti Kurmi, is expected to do the same after resigning from the party as a legislator. While the departure of Mr Kurmi — a young leader from the tea garden community — hasn’t grabbed headlines, his loss will hurt the Congress’ prospects in Upper Assam, especially among the tea tribes that traditionally voted for the party but have now moved to the BJP.
There is still no clarity on who will head the Congress in Assam (the current Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ripun Bora has resigned ) but there is speculation about more desertions in the Assam unit.
In Punjab, where the factional fights between Chief Minister Capt (Retd) Amarinder Singh and cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu have played out under full media glare, there is now a new political realignment within the Congress.
The Chief Minister met his arch rival and Rajya Sabha member, Partap Singh Bajwa, for a private dinner that was facilitated by Lok Sabha member, Jasbir Singh Dimpa, on Thursday evening. Sources told The Hindu the Chief Minister wanted to reach out to Mr Bajwa so that together they could check Mr. Sidhu, who has been asked to be “suitably accommodated” by a three-member AICC panel that was set up to resolve factionalism in the State.
With Mr Sidhu being seen as close to the Gandhi family, the new Amarinder-Bajwa realignment in Punjab is a signal to the party high command that they cannot force any decision that is not acceptable to them.
The message from Rajasthan too seems to be same as Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has been stalling all efforts by the party high command to accommodate former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot’s supporters in his cabinet and that may have delayed the high command’s plans to appoint Mr Pilot as an AICC general secretary.
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