Challenges aplenty for Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge
Mallikarjun Kharge is in multiple mess. How to win Karnataka in May 2023? If Kharge loses his home state, he is willing to resign as chief of Congress, confided Kharge to his confidants.
PINO (President in Name Only)
Another interesting buzz is: even after Kharge got elected as Congress President, he is yet to gain access to National Herald and certain ex officio positions in a few Memorial Trusts are yet to come to him. Kharge is yet to get 60% of the “power” from three Gandhis. One such entity is the AICC real estate trust in which Rahul Gandhi is still holding the key. AICC has estimated real estate assets of 35000 crores – in 28 states and 10 union territories as per Congress Party internal document. Kharge is now faced with organizational elections. Kharge has to articulate much of the 2023 Union Budget session. But Kharge has no control over Lok Sabha Congress MPs because all the 53 MPs are with Adhir Ranjan Choudhary and under Rahul Gandhi’s direction. Kharge has only 24 Rajya Sabha MPs with him. So, for the 2023 Budget session, how Congress will do its politics against Narendra Modi? Congress is a divided house. From every angle, Congress appears incoherent.
The other major concern for Kharge is to sort out the Rajasthan Congress political crisis. Ashok Gehlot vs Sachin Pilot: The war of words between Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot is getting messier over exam paper leaks. The latest remarks by Pilot reflect the rift within the Congress in Rajasthan, where CM Gehlot and his former deputy are locked in a power tussle. Gehlot terming Sachin Pilot as another Corona type virus in Congress. These two comments are making sleepless nights for Kharge. Sachin Pilot is keen to quit Congress as three Gandhis do not give freedom to Pilot, in other words, Kharge is a puppet in the hands of Gehlot feels Pilot camp MLAs. But Gehlot has got 100 percent MLAs in his control.
Age of 80 plus in Congress
Kharge has another problem on Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY). Youngsters are too much with Rahul Gandhi on BJY. But the young Congress leaders care a damn for Kharge. Elders like A K Antony, P Chidambaram, Bhupendra Hooda, Meira Kumar, are totally sidelined by the Rahul Gandhi group.
No need for elections in Congress
Kharge is faced with internal elections in the Congress party. Many senior leaders have reservations about holding internal elections for seats on the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and the Central Election Committee (CEC), two key decision-making bodies that will be rejigged after the AICC plenary session from February 24 to 26, party insiders speculate.
Elections to the CWC and the CEC have been a key demand of G23 (group of 23) leaders who wrote a letter to the then party chief Sonia Gandhi in August 2020 demanding changes from top to bottom in the wake of a series of electoral losses. Former party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad and working committee member Anand Sharma had demanded during CWC meetings in the recent past that elections be held in these two bodies.
The CWC is the highest executive body with sweeping powers. The CEC takes the final decision on candidates for assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
A senior Congress leader, opposed to the idea of holding polls for these two bodies, said, “Why should we have an election for CWC and CEC when none of the other parties has an election for such posts. The BJP, Trinamool, Left parties—none has an election for internal bodies.”
Conflict with state units of Congress
The Congress constitution has a provision to allow up to 50% of the seats in the CWC to be filled up through an election. But, for a long, seats have been filled up through a nomination process in which the Congress president picks leaders for the important in-house panel. A third leader argued that the steering committee (the CWC has been turned into a steering committee after the new president took charge) will take the final decision on this when it meets before the plenary session in Raipur.
Another leader argued that the demand to hold elections came up when Sonia Gandhi was the president. “With Kharge, a democratically elected president in charge, the justification for an election doesn’t exist. They (G23) made a demand for a non-Gandhi president and we have Kharge ji at the helm now,” the leader said.
“No other party holds such an election. We are going to face nine Assembly elections this year and the Lok Sabha elections next year. Our entire energy should be focused on these crucial polls.”
Rumblings in the G23
The third leader also argued that the G23, which had been demanding internal polls, had fallen apart. “Azad, who was the top leader of the G23, has quit. Kapil Sibal and Jitin Prasada have also quit. State units indulge in double speak on organizational polls. 22 states have no booth committees. 8 states have no MPs for congress. Some G23 leaders such as Mukul Wasnik stopped attending their meetings. The G23 is now reduced to only a few unhappy leaders. Their demands and their position hold little value.”
A fourth leader added that Kharge has already assured that he wants to take everyone along. “Therefore, the demands made in 2020 or 2021 are no more relevant in 2023,” the leader said.
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2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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