This time there was no letter. This time the strategy was different — to speak out one by one so that it hits harder. The Congress ‘letter writers’ have not been sitting pretty in the last few months. They were waiting to see the results of the Bihar and other bypoll results. So, as the results began to pour in, and many within the Congress were disappointed, some of the ‘dissenters’ felt they stood vindicated. Their point that the grand old party rudderless, needed strong and definite leadership and hit the streets was proved right once again.
Ghulam Nabi Azad’s blow was the hardest as he almost hit the nail right on the head by saying that what had happened in today’s Congress was an intrusion of the ‘5-star culture’. Now, Azad, Digvijaya Singh, Ashok Gehlot belong to a different style of Congress politics which has been adopted by the BJP — that is to spend time with party workers, meet them in party headquarters and communicate with them.
There have been many instances when these leaders would just randomly pick up the phone seeking favour for a worker and even if the work was not done, the worker was happy that an attempt had been made. This is something which many within the party fear is being increasingly abandoned.
In Bihar too, many leaders who came down from Delhi would just be huddled in 5-stars and not even meet the the candidates or those party workers who were waiting to have a glimpse of the party leaders from Delhi.
So what’s the plan ahead of the ‘rebels’. First, they had decided to wait for the poll results. They were aware that things didn’t seem good and once the results came in, they decided to wing into action. Many of them met informally and have been discussing their plan frequently. It was decided that Kapil Sibal, who till now was silent, would be the first to speak.
Upon landing from Dubai, he decided to break his silence. After his statement, it was decided Azad would be the next one to speak who went a step further. Sources say plan is over the next few days and more are likely to speak out. Many have decided that there is no going back and in their twilight years they don’t need the Congress for their survival. Some have flourishing alternative careers and some have decided to slowly retire. And some think they can manage beyond the party and prove their own mettle . So why should they hold back. As one told me, “party has given a lot to me, and so have I… time to remain silent has gone. We never leaked the letter."
Sources say there is likely to be another round of meeting. There are some who are planning that one person should contest for top job whenever the elections are held but if Rahul Gandhi is a candidate then they may not.
The Congress, barring Gehlot, has been silent. Sources said they have decided to remain largely silent and ignore them so as not to give them too much importance. But it’s clear the “rebels” are not in mood to remain silent for long. Some like Anand Sharma and Azad have recently been put into new committees set up by Sonia Gandhi. The move was taken so that Congress can make their point that they are not indulging in political witch-hunt . But the so called rebels are ready for a fight but careful not to touch the Gandhis just yet.