The story hasn’t ended with the comments of Kapil Sibal and Anand Sharma on Rahul Gandhi‘s north-south remark. Many members of the group of 23, who wrote the letter to Sonia Gandhi in August last year, are now gearing up for another confrontation. But this time it’s away from Delhi.
As Ghulam Nabi Azad returns to Jammu for a series of public meetings and a homecoming after over a year, the battle ground has shifted. The venue has been carefully chosen as its Azad’s karmabhoomi and could very well be the bhoomi for another revolt in the party. Interestingly it’s not going to be Azad alone. By his side are six other rebels — Kapil Sibal, Anand Sharma, Vivek Tankha, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Manish Tewari and Bhupinder Hooda.
The messaging is very clear. It’s going to be a show of solidarity and a dare to the party. Azad’s recent farewell, where the PM was emotional, followed by the fact that his party rejected the offer from allies to get him a Rajya Sabha seat from another state is believed to have hurt Azad and others also. Adding to this is the fact that as Congress faces crucial polls none of the seniors have been consulted.
Azad, who is well versed with working of the DMK, was not sent to negotiate seat sharing. Instead Randeep Surjewala was. This has added to the angst of Bhupinder Hooda who was hoping to get support from the party to topple the Khattar government. But Surjewala and Kumari Shelja, who are known Hooda baiters, are believed to have rejected the idea and Rahul Gandhi agreed with them. Anand Sharma is also believed to be hurt by the fact that with a year to go for Rajya Sabha term, he was overlooked for the post of leader of opposition. It was given to Rahul Gandhi confidante Mallikarjun Kharge. Sources say that some in the rebel group suggested to Anand Sharma that he should resign. Which of course didn’t happen.
So then what? At this show of solidarity in Jammu two points will be made. One, why have they or seniors not been consulted for poll strategy and two, who in the absence of a full time president is taking the decisions?
All eyes will be on the poll results. Now, if Rahul manages to win in states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu and a good performance in Assam, then it’s the new guard that will be henceforth in control. But if results are poor, then the group of 23 will use this show by the group of seven’s solidarity in Jammu as the launching pad for a full on war against the new Congress.