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3-min read

Lacking Lobby to Take on Old Guard, Congress' GenNext Waits Pointlessly for Gandhi Siblings to Take Over

The resignation of Pradyut Debbarman as Tripura Congress chief and his complaint against party seniors is an early warning of a larger storm brewing within the grand old party.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18_pallavighosh

Updated:September 26, 2019, 1:55 PM IST
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Lacking Lobby to Take on Old Guard, Congress' GenNext Waits Pointlessly for Gandhi Siblings to Take Over
News18 creative by Mir Suhail.

New Delhi: Tripura Congress chief Pradyut Debbarman resigned from the party in a huff earlier this week. His exit portends a storm gathering pace within the grand old party.

In his resignation letter, Debbarman spoke of rampant corruption within Tripura Congress. But what has caught the attention of many, especially the young leaders, within the party is his complaint that the old guard was conceding little space for the next-gen to climb a notch up the ladder.

The return of Sonia Gandhi as Congress president has enthused the workers who were looking for an anchor after Rahul Gandhi resigned. But the ones who are smiling most are the seniors who felt side-lined during Rahul’s regime. The old guards are back in the reckoning, while many young leaders are apprehensive of their political future.

This apprehension is manifesting itself in many ways; case in point is the bonhomie between the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora. When the latter said that politics must not colour appreciation for a good cause, some seniors were uneasy and, in fact, also tried to start a whisper campaign that youngsters are not to be trusted.

Deora issued a clarification saying politics allows decency and support for good cause, but the campaign hasn’t stopped.

In fact, it’s now taking the form of the old versus the new. Take for example, Jyotiraditya Scindia’s recent muscle-flexing. After his defeat from Guna in Madhya Pradesh, Scindia is fighting for a say in MP politics and to show the high command that he cannot be written off as he has his share of supporters.

Seniors again conveyed to Sonia Gandhi that his stand was weakening the state government as the BJP was breathing down its neck. Some actually saw internal politics at play when the central government ordered an SIT probe into Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

In Rajasthan, since Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot got six BSP MLAs to join the Congress, his stock has risen. Sources say there is a strong move to remove Sachin Pilot as the Rajasthan Congress chief with an intention to clip his wings.

These instances reflect the restlessness among the youth in the Congress. “The seniors fight for each other and that’s how they all win. We don’t have any such lobby of the young,” a young Congress leader told News18.

Sources say both Pilot and Scindia’s names came up as front-runners for the Congress president’s post. But the seniors managed to scuttle it by coming together to make the point that a non-Gandhi couldn’t keep the party together. Again, the young couldn’t manage perception to ensure a generational change.

Sources say that the young leaders have once again pinned their hopes on the younger Gandhis to take over. They hope that a generational shift at the top will percolate down to the brass tracks. For now, they are treading with caution as any statement by them may be used to give the impression that they are “in touch with the BJP”.

It is a battle of perception they are trying to fight. Caught at the crossroads, staying back in the Congress would offer little in terms of political dividend. But going to other side is also fraught with risk. Some attempts at forming a syndicate of like-minded young leaders has also failed to take off. The wait is only getting longer, and pointless.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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