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UPA ‘Crown’ Awaits Rahul Gandhi, Bringing With it the ‘Thorn’ of Regional Satraps

The old guards within Congress as well as UPA were more comfortable in dealing with Sonia than team Rahul. Some like Mamata Banerjee, Lalu Yadav and Sitaram Yechury have made no bones about it.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18_pallavighosh

Updated:December 19, 2017, 4:17 PM IST
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UPA ‘Crown’ Awaits Rahul Gandhi, Bringing With it the ‘Thorn’ of Regional Satraps
The further elevation would mean that Rahul would now have to deal with allies directly. File image of Rahul with Sonia Gandhi. (PTI Photo)
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New Delhi: After taking charge of the Congress party, Rahul Gandhi may soon assume leadership of the Congress Parliamentary Party and the United Progressive Alliance.

Highly placed sources in the party told News18 that the newly elected Congress President shall have to assume CPP leadership as it is mandated in its Constitution.

“Soniaji has anyway stopped addressing the last few CPP meetings. This rule that party chief will be the CPP president too was framed after Indira Gandhi became party president,” a party member said on the condition of anonymity.

The further elevation would mean that Rahul, as UPA chairperson, would now have to deal with allies directly.

So far, Sonia was the one who stitched the alliances and dealt with regional satraps. The old guards within Congress, as well as UPA, were more comfortable in dealing with Sonia than team Rahul. Some like Mamata Banerjee, Lalu Yadav, and Sitaram Yechury have made no bones about it.

The challenge for Rahul, if he were to build a non-NDA alliance, would be to reach out to these senior allies.

The first test case would be Sharad Pawar’s NCP. The UPA ally had parted ways with the Congress in Maharashatra and also decided to go solo in Gujarat. Rahul’s close aides say the Congress president was angry with the NCP for ‘betraying” Ahmed Patel during the Rajya Sabha polls in August.

In Gujarat, Rahul chose his allies carefully, keeping in mind the caste combinations. Jignesh Mevani, Alpesh Thakor and Hardik Patel were wooed for the OBC-Patidar-Dalit votes. It worked to a certain extent. But it also threw up challenges and questions. What about other states, like, say, Tamil Nadu? Will Congress align with MK Stalin’s DMK?

A break-up of the Gujarat election result throws up another serious concern for the Congress. While it did well in rural areas, it lost out in urban areas.

In a state like Karnataka, where Congress hopes to retain power, the urban vote share is increasing. Cities are becoming bigger, and more areas are getting urbanised. Gujarat poll results show Rahul needs to maintain a fine balance in his strategy and would have to reach out to the youth and upper middle class category as well.

As a senior leader said, “The jholaa style of politics won’t help. Modi has mastered this art and Rahul needs to, too.”

The immediate challenge for Rahul post Gujarat would be to keep the aggression going. The cadre may be enthused that they can take on Narendra Modi on his home turf but could also turn their back on Rahul should the congress fail to win in upcoming state elections next year. The battle has begun for the new president.

| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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