The Congress central election authority’s announcement that all the 89 nominations filed on Monday proposed party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s candidature for the top job set in motion celebrations and preparations for the imminent change of guard on Tuesday.
Following Rahul’s elevation, the party’s highest executive body, the Congress Working Committee, too is slated for an overhaul, and is expected to see a “healthy mix of the old and young.” With a new organisational team at the district and state levels in place and a new party chief, the elections for the CWC remains pending and according to sources will be complete by mid-January. Senior party leaders told Mail Today that by the onset of the auspicious month post makar sankranti in mid-January, the party’s entire organisational set-up will have changed.
“Rahul Gandhi is all set to usher in a new era of dynamism in the party. At the state level, new Pradesh Congress Committee presidents and district incharges have taken guard and now at the national level some changes might be made. The All India Congress Committee elects its representatives and the new president will nominate roughly 12 members to the CWC. This process is likely to be complete by mid-January,” said a sitting CWC member.
A large party convention, on the lines of the Jaipur Chintan Shivir in January 2013 that saw Rahul’s nomination as number two in the party, is likely to be held by end of next month, in which Rahul will address party workers. Though the venue is yet to be decided, it could be held either in Karnataka or Delhi.
Meanwhile senior party leaders expectantly look at Rahul to breathe life into the Congress’ sinking ship. “He is not one who imposes his views but is extremely democratic in his interactions and handling of issues. While there is clear indication that state leaders will be given more autonomy and freedom in decision-making, there will be legitimate space for more than one leader.”
“The idea is to work as a team. It is not like only young leaders will be promoted and the party veterans, who have served for decades will be done away with. There will be a healthy mix of the young and the old. Experience of the old leaders’ and youthful energy of the young blood will together bring change,” said a senior party functionary close to Rahul.
“When Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister, he gave key responsibilities to several young leaders like Ashok Gehlot, Oscar Fernandes, Digvijaya Singh, Okram Ibobi Singh, who were all below the age of 40 years then.”
“It was because he groomed them then that these leaders went on to become assets for the party. Rahul ji intends to do the same…groom young leaders while making the most of its senior leadership,” said a senior party leader.
“Today he is solidly backing Sachin Pilot, Arun Yadav, Ashok Tanwar and such young leaders, who are the party’s future.”
Party leaders maintained that while Sonia had to depend on the advice of her political aides when she took over as the party chief in 1998, Rahul has been working closely not only with the top national leadership but has also met district and state level leaders one-onone.
“Rahul ji has been preparing for this day, years in advance and is all set for the challenges ahead,” added the leader.