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Congress Goes For Damage Control After Sheila's Comments on Rahul

Trouble is brewing within the Congress following former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit saying that Rahul Gandhi was not mature yet and needed more time.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18pallavighcnnibn

Updated:February 24, 2017, 8:22 PM IST
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Congress Goes For Damage Control After Sheila's Comments on Rahul
File photo of Former Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit/Reuters
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New Delhi: Trouble is brewing within the Congress following former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit saying that Rahul Gandhi was not mature yet and needed more time.

Dikshit made the comments in an interview to the Times of India.

While Dikshit has since clarified, saying that her words were twisted, sources told CNN-News18 that Rahul's strategy makers are now in a tizzy over it.

The statement comes at a rather inopportune time as the party is engaged in a bitter battle with BJP and BSP to win in UP. Also, this gives ammunition for the BJP which spares no chance of attacking Rahul, calling him 'Pappu'.

BJP national president Amit Shah has already latched on to the statement, referring to it at a rally.

This forced the party into a huddle and they issued a clarification denying the comments.

The statement has certainly come at a wrong time for the party. Coming just after Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation election results which saw a near wipe out for the Congress, it once again has raised questions over Rahul's leadership ability.

A young party leader told CNN-News18 on condition of anonymity, "The decision to make him president is taking too long. The complete surgery needs to happen soon. I fear time has already run out. BJP has begun preparing for next Lok Sabha polls and here we are still trying to deal with the last one."

Dikshit may have clarified her comment but the fact remains many within party, especially seniors, are now wondering whether Rahul can even do a Sonia Gandhi and keep the Congress' fire going.

Rahul's reluctance to crack the whip and go in for a full surgery is hurting the party and slowing it down.

In the case of Mumbai, many were shocked at the open rebellion and infighting through Twitter between Sanjay Nirupam and Gurudas Kamath. To make matters worse, former Haryana chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was sent to settle matters. The questions that party insiders are now asking is why couldn't Rahul crack the whip earlier? Why was Kamath not pulled up for tweeting publicly?

The problem for the party is that Dikshit's comments have not come in a vacuum. Leaders like Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who switched over to BJP, have publicly blamed Rahul for the mess. Apart from this, Jayanthi Natarajan and other seniors who feel left out occasionally attack Rahul as well.

This is not a happy situation for someone who has been groomed to take over the party and Rahul's managers know it.

| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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