All The King's Men: A Look at Rahul Gandhi's Inner Coterie
As the country is divided over the way Rahul Gandhi's ascent to the seat of power in Congress is being held, we look at possible, strong contenders who could be inducted into his close circle.
Rahul Gandhi has filed the nomination for the post of Congress president, paving the way for his much-awaited elevation and setting the stage for a contest against PM Narendra Modi ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi filed his papers for the post of the Congress president. A post which he most likely stands to win, unopposed. As the country is divided over the way his ascent to the seat of power in the party is being held, we look at possible, strong contenders who could be inducted into his close circle.
Ghulam Nabi Azad
The former health minister has been a staunch supporter of the Congress vice president. The senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha had, just a few days ago, said that Gandhi was fighting a lone battle against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Gujarat Assembly elections and said that Congress would come out victorious “despite Modi and three fourth of his cabinet camping there”. Azad has also been very vocal about PoK being “an integral part of India” and has been quoted as saying that the environment in the country was ‘vicious’.
As health minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet, he had launched the National Urban Health Mission.
Pitroda’s closeness to the Gandhi family is a known fact, starting from his close relations with Rahul Gandhi’s father and former PM Rajiv Gandhi. Pitroda has played a pivotal role in enhancing Rahul Gandhi’s perception worldwide, including his Harvard speech. Pitroda’s involvement with poll-bound Gujarat has been strong enough, with strong criticism of the Gujarat model. Pitroda is also known to have given Gandhi tips on how to boost his communication and leadership skills.
Firebrand leader Scindia has enjoyed being in Rahul Gandhi’s close circles since long. Considered one of the rising young leaders in the Congress party, Scindia is an MP from Guna and is the party’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha. Scindia described Gandhi as a marathon runner. Scindia’s rise in the party, along with that of Sachin Pilot, has often been considered as Rahul's way of showing that he was not going to be dependent on the trusted aides of his mother Sonia Gandhi.
Scindia has time and again said that the opposition was united under Rahul Gandhi and that he was the best possible candidate for the onslaught.
Senior party leader Patel is the political secretary of Sonia Gandhi. His acumen is often given credit for the party’s success in the 2004 and 2009 elections, thus earning him a place in Rahul Gandhi’s inner circle. Patel is also the key player in the party’s Gujarat strategy, with rumours doing the rounds that he might be made CM candidate. Patel’s stronghold has also made him the target of many of BJP’s attacks, including one when two IS suspects were arrested.
Surjewala, in-charge, AICC communications, said the likes of LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi were all ‘victims’ of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah’s ‘internal democracy’. The sharp attack came as the ruling BJP came down heavily on the Congress for its election process for the party president's post. Surjewala further upped the ante and said that the PM and his men suffered from ‘Rahul-Gandhi phobia’. Surjewala is being touted as one of the closest people in Gandhi’s inner circle.
The daughter of veteran Congress leader Santosh Mohan Dev, Sushmita is armed with a masters in law and has used her academic qualification in putting her weight behind the Congress vice president. As Shehzad Poonawalla slammed the party’s dynasty elections, Sushmita was one of the first people to come out in defence of the Congress vice president and said that this "election was being supervised by the Election Commission”, and that the elections were completely transparent and democratic since the party followed EC guidelines.
At present, she is the president of the All India Mahila Congress and also a member of the Lok Sabha for Silchar in Assam.
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