After rebellions by Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh and Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan, the focus is now on Rahul Gandhi's "youth brigade" and those whom he had given key responsibilities when he was Congress president. There is apprehension prevailing in the rank and file of the Congress after the happenings in Rajasthan, where Pilot has declared open rebellion against the Ashok Gehlot government, sources said.
Almost everyone in the party has just one question on their mind, "who next", they said. "Obviously we are forced to think that when leaders who have been given a lot of responsibilities in a short span of time and whose capabilities the party was confident of using going forward, are not satisfied, then definitely something is wrong," a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) told 'PTI-Bhasha' on the condition of anonymity.
The CWC is the highest decision making body of the Congress. Pilot and Scindia are the latest additions to the list of leaders who have raised the flag of rebellion. In the Congress, they were earlier known as members of the "Rahul brigade", the sources said.
Other leaders who were part of this brigade included former Congress Haryana unit president Ashok Tanwar, former Madhya Pradesh unit chief Arun Yadav, former Mumbai chiefs Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam, former Punjab Congress president Pratap Singh Bajwa, former Jharkhand unit president Ajoy Kumar and former Karnataka chief Dinesh Gundu Rao, they said. The sources said Madhusudhan Mistry, who has been the in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, former Uttar Pradesh unit president Raj Babbar and AICC general secretary in-charge Rajasthan Avinash Pande, Mohan Prakash and Deepak Babaria, are also part of the group which was seen as having the backing of Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress admitted that resentment had increased with the "Rahul brigade" getting more importance in the party, they said. The sources said most of them showed rebellious attitude on losing their posts and alleged that most of them did not live up to the responsibility given to them and continued to encourage factionalism in the party.
Another senior Congress leader told PTI Bhasha, "Leaders who are going against the party after getting a lot in the Congress are cheating themselves. Everyone should understand that this is the time to not ask from the party, but to give back to it." However, former Haryana Congress chief Tanwar said that the argument that leaders whom Gandhi gave responsibilities did not live up to expectations, does not hold.
"It is because of Pilot, a young leader, that in the Rajasthan assembly elections, the Congress managed to reach 100 seats from 21. The hardwork of the youth team in Haryana resulted in more than 30 seats. If the young leaders would have been given proper opportunity, the party's situation would have been different," he said. However, a political expert said that the "generational conflict" in the Congress was also a major reason that leaders of Gandhi's choice could not assert themselves in the party and some of them revolted.
Director Centre for the Study of Developing Societies Sanjay Kumar said, "There has been a raging generational conflict within the Congress in the last few years. While older leaders are trying to retain their place, younger leaders, especially those considered close to Rahul, insist on change and find themselves neglected in the current system. This is the reason for rebellion in some places." However, 72-year-old Harish Rawat, Congress general secretary and former Uttarakhand chief minister, refused to believe that there is any generational conflict within the party.
"The situation which is seen is due to the attack on democracy by the BJP. Sadly, due to their ambition, some people of ours got caught in their trap. It would have been better that if such leaders wanted any justice, they should have tried for it within the party itself," he said. Rahul Gandhi resigned as Congress president after the party's 2019 Lok Sabha poll debacle and Sonia Gandhi was installed as interim chief on August 10 by the CWC, the party's highest decision-making body.