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Will Rahul 's new anti-factionalism formula work?


New Delhi, May 17: The Congress is a party where factionalism has always been a major issue during every election, and the 2019 Lok Sabha election isn't an exception.

Earlier, Gandhi family, a.k.a. Congress high command used to ask various state leaders and party general secretary in-charges to iron out the differences among party leaders.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi

"The new players of the Gandhi family (Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra) realised that this approach has not been yielding desired results as the party has been losing many seats that it could have won. The other problem with this approach was that even various general secretary in-charges were themselves leading one or another faction, " said a source.

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When Rahul Gandhi started campaigning for the party then he devised a unique way to address the issue.

Instead of asking various party leaders to sort out the problem of factionalism, Rahul himself took the responsibility. Wherever he went to address the rallies, he made sure to call party MLAs on the stage and talk with them.

"The idea behind this exercise was to send a message among senior party leaders that he is not going to totally rely on their feedback, which is often self-centric rather than party-centric. Rahul used to inquire from the MLAs about their victory margin and after getting an answer he would tell them that they must ensure the Congress candidate from their parliamentary constituency should not get fewer votes than their victory margin from their area," said the source.

With the final phase of polling remaining in the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul is using this new approach vigorously in Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.

All the 13 seats of Punjab and 08 seats of Madhya Pradesh will go to polls in the seventh phase on May 19.

Rahul has told ministers of Punjab and Madhya Pradesh in plain words that they must ensure the Congress should not suffer because of the factionalism, says the source.

In fact, Rahul had got the feedback that the ministers of the Congress-ruled states didn't provide requisite support to the party candidates during the last six phases due to their personal interests.

However, a seasoned Congress observer is of the opinion that Rahul's efforts to be in touch with the MLAs and local state leaders are not being liked by the mandarins of 24, Akbar Road- the Congress headquarters, and plans are afoot to desist him or any future Congress president to break the newly found tradition of the party.

"After the demise of Indira Gandhi, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) leaders started to become powerful as keeping distance between the Gandhi family and state level Congress leaders became their modus operandi. Because of the communication gap, the office bearers of the AICC always had a field day and the party paid the price, " says the observer.

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"The tradition started with Rajiv Gandhi and reached its acme till the tenure of Sonia Gandhi. Since Rahul has assumed the office of the Congress president, he is doing various experiments that have made AICC office bearers a concerned lot. They have anticipated the fallouts of Rahul's anti-factionalism formula, " adds the observer.

According to him, a Congress president getting involved with the lower rung of the party is not good for the health of the AICC office bearers.

"Many AICC office bearers and General Secretary In-charges of the states get moolah in lieu of tickets and various appointments. If Congress President starts hobnobbing with party MLAs and state leaders then chances are high that their money-making scheme will ultimately suffer."

"Therefore, the AICC office bearers and senior leaders did their best to fail Rahul 's formula. And, the proof is the feedback of the last six phases. Had it been successful, he wouldn't have to issue warning to the ministers of Punjab and Madhya Pradesh before the final phase," claims the observer.

It's pertinent to mention here that Rahul Gandhi has been desperate to improve Congress tally in 2019 Lok Sabha elections and hasn't shied away from experimenting new things. For example, for the first time in the history of the Congress he allowed Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states to fight the Lok Sabha elections on their face value instead of the Congress president.

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