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RAHUL NEEDS TO BE ACCESSIBLE, TO PUBLIC REPRESENTATIVES AND PUBLIC ALIKE!
In the Chintan Shivir, Congress has informally handed the leadership to Rahul Gandhi. Considering his past working style, do you think he will be able to take the party further?
Jagdeesh Chandra: He can, provided he fulfills two conditions. The first requirement being that Rahul Gandhi sits in the office designated and where if anyone goes to meet and sends their card, then the person is apprised of the time it would take for them to be called in. The second requirement is accessibility. Set aside the Chief Ministers, Congress MLAs, MPs, other public representatives, and workers should get time to meet when they seek a meeting with Rahul. Look at how PM Narendra Modi’s and Amit Shah’s office function. You seek a meeting and their response comes soon. So Congress’s future will depend on accessibility to workers and representatives. But if Rahul stays like before with limited or difficult accessibility, for example, workers from Rajasthan have not met him for over one year, therefore everything depends on how Rahul conducts party affairs in the coming months.
But do you actually see this ‘on and off’ behaviour of Rahul changing, especially when the youth leaders and workers are growing impatient?
Well, it is a wishful thinking but yes there is a thought in this regard. And a thought can become reality also. If he sits in the office, becomes accessible to the public then all this is also possible. Though keeping in mind the past, such a hope should not be kept but change can also happen.
Will Rahul bring about a change in his office team along with the changes in organisation?
He may do it. When I was coming here, an informer gave me a list of names of Rahul’s new team wherein Manik Tagore, Jyoti Mani, Vijendra Singla, Krishna Rao, Amrinder Raja, BV Sriniwas, Prakash Joshi and various others may find themselves in Rahul’s team. So the new team of these individuals, it is believed that they will think of something new and they all will have only one challenge that is of access to Rahul Gandhi, how will they get their works disposed by Rahul Gandhi. It is sure that changes are happening in Rahul’s team and will happen in the future as well.
Ajay Maken played an active role in the Chintan Shivir. Do you think he can get a major role in the coming times?
Ajay Maken has emerged as an excellent Yes Man. He understands how the Gandhi family functions and how the word is said in Delhi. He is close to Rahul and puts up things in a better manner. I have heard that he had a major contribution in the Bharat Jodo slogan given during the Chintan Shivir. He read the last proposal on the last day of the camp. So he is a ‘feel good’ man. He is a gentleman, a good person and reasonably popular in Delhi. So it seems that he may be given the charge currently held by KC Venugopal. Interestingly, two people have gained from the Chintan Shivir. One is Ashok Gehlot and suppose he has gained eighty percent, so Maken has gained forty percent. So it can be hoped that he will be given a new role and it is said that he has had his fill of Rajasthan so he may look to move to some other role.
Who do you think is Gandhi family’s ‘Ahmed Patel’ in today’s time? And how do you see KC Venugopal’s role in that aspect?
It is a mirage to find another Ahmed Patel in Congress since there is none. Ahmed Bhai was a miracle. If any leader from any political party called him up asking if Mrs Gandhi was angry or miffed with them, so he would be the point person giving assurances that all was well. He was a master combination of handling political affairs and alliance politics. There is no alternative to late Ahmed Patel and it would be wrong to equate KC with Ahmed Bhai. KC is also a good party leader but someone in Delhi told me that off late he has started keeping his main door shut and those who have to meet him, only a handful of people, get to do so through back door entry to his house. The basic issue is that these leaders perhaps do not want to face the crowd. The major flaw in Rahul Gandhi’s team is that they are afraid of crowd and want to stay alone, which is suicidal in politics where a leader is born or dies only through the footfall at his or her door. I am sorry to say, he is not a success in Kerala, he does not speak any North India language and so I question Rahul Gandhi’s judgment to put him on such an important position. I am not against KC but we are talking about principal here. So In a nutshell there is no alternative to Ahmed Bhai.
What are the challenges before Rahul Gandhi in current situation?
The biggest challenge before Rahul is consistency. He should sit in the office and the office should function as a proper office. If someone sends him a letter they should get its reply within a week. Thirdly his speeches need to be prepared. He is no Narendra Modi in that aspect but one can prepare well still. Sometimes he gives a fiery and sensible speech that one wants to reward him, but generally, he moves away from the path. The problem is that the issue that he picks he is unable to bring a connect between that issue and the people. The on and off issue is a reality with Rahul. He goes on foreign visits and it is alright to do so but there should not be any secrecy around it.
Will Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra be a success?
It will be a success since the idea is good. I will have to compliment him on one point that he knows that Congress will not come to power for 5-7 years. He said that we will have to sweat hard while stressing that we have been disconnected from the public. He stressed that shortcuts won’t work. Now the issue is that the Yatra will be taken out and naturally there will be much enthusiasm in Congressruled states. So, I believe that in totality, the Yatra will be reasonably good and successful since the idea is good. This is why he said that he wants to come out of the room and reach the masses. This is a good point but the real issue is that as long as he is confined to the room, there should be accessibility too.
During her speech in CWC, Sonia Gandhi asked the leaders to give their due to the party. Who do you think she was referring to?
See this was an emotional speech and basically the driving force behind it was the pressure created by the G—23 forces. Although some people interpret it in a different manner and said that she had hinted her statements towards the two Chief Ministers. But I do not think so since both CMs are loyal and one CM — Ashok Gehlot — is totally indispensible. My old belief that as long as Congress stays in power in rajasthan, Gehlot will be the Chief Minister.
What is your take on Rahul Gandhi’s suggestion of reserving 50 percent seats for the youth?
It is a good slogan he has given that fifty percent tickets should be given to those under 45 years of age which is a welcome decision, But when this policy will be implemented and its pros and cons come to light, the entire gamut of the policy will be known then. It is a good slogan and a good effort which should be carried out. So on papers, it is good but when they go to implement it, all the policies and decisions are of no use then when other factors come into play and then you work under compulsions. So let’s see how they are executed and implemented in the coming days.
Is the one family one ticket rule adopted by Congress practical? Is it an attempt of the Congress to make itself free of dynasty politics or perhaps come out of the shadow of dynasty politics allegations levelled against it?
See I have said this in the past that Rahul Gandhi is a sensible and principled person. In fact Sonia Gandhi, when she was asked as to why dont she give the role to Priyanka, she stressed that politically Rahul is more mature. So, Sonia keeps Rahul in front on all aspects. Secondly as far as this decision being practical, well that would be known only once it’s implemented in the coming days.
But they have found a way around the principal by making an exception for those who have worked for the party for five years.
In many aspects, Congress is called a ‘Sarkari party’. Like it happens in the government that if CM wants the policies or principles can be twisted and done away with in cases. So this proposal is something on those lines and it is also true that Rahul Gandhi agrees with Modi and BJP that dynasty politics should not happen. That is why he keeps saying that the party president should be someone other than the Gandhis family member.
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