In 2018, the four were inseparable — Rahul Gandhi, Alpesh Thakore, Jignesh Mevani and Hardik Patel.
Today, two are out of the group. Hardik Patel finally made the exit. But not without pretty much saying the same thing as Hemanta Biswa Sarma. He had accused Rahul Gandhi of giving more importance to his pet dog Pidi, feeding him biscuits, while Sarma waited to be heard.
Hardik mentions chicken sandwiches mattered more to Delhi leaders than hearing him out.
What’s common to all those who leave the Congress? Well, most of them have joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This invited strong comments of being traitors towards the Congress.
But there is one more thing in common. Almost all of them have been Rahul Gandhi’s close aides or handpicked by him. While there is visible excitement when they join and Rahul Gandhi can often be seen hanging around with them for lunches and dinners, over time, things begin to go wrong.
News18.com spoke to all those who left for better pastures. Almost all had one thing to say. Rahul Gandhi was not the issue, it was his coterie. And eventually Gandhi begins to listen to them.
Says one such leader once close to Gandhi: “The group of people close to him are insecure. They didn’t like the fact that we had direct access to him. That we could bypass them and call him. Eventually he began to believe them. To that extent, I would blame Rahul.”
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Let’s look at some examples. Jyotiraditya Scindia was very close to Gandhi, something the latter acknowledged and said he had big plans for him if he stayed in the party. But when Congress won Madhya Pradesh, it was clear that Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh would call the shots.
Singh had no love lost for Scindia and the latter wanted a place for his supporters in the state cabinet. But the wait was endless and no one heard him out.
Sources said he also wanted the Congress to help him keep his house in the heart of Delhi. But it didn’t work out. And with this, the relationship ended and the rest is history.
Same is the story of RPN Singh and Jitin Prasada, who, at one time, had no issues with access to Rahul Gandhi. But slowly, things began to go bitter.
So there are two problems – One, the close group of Gandhi that won’t allow anyone to get so close to him that they can be bypassed. Also, the level of distrust that top leadership of the Congress has for anyone who wants to bring in change.
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Like Jitin Prasada’s attempt to reach out through his Brahmin Chetna Samaj evoked little reaction from the Gandhis, even Priyanka. In the end, he left to seek a better future.
Most told News18.com: “We are netas, we want to be heard, get some importance and also post. How long can we hang around and for whom?”
Every political party sees exits. The jury is still out on Hardik Patel.
But when those who drew their power from Gandhi leave, they go with the perception that for top leaders Pidi and chicken sandwich matter the most.
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