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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

Quiet Takeover

Sonia's imprint is evident in the party's selection of candidates and manifesto

Quiet Takeover
Quiet Takeover
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Sitaram Kesri spent three hours waiting for an alternate flight to catch up with Sonia Gandhi in the much publicised joint election meeting in Ranchi on January 21. He missed it. But in the process, he also saved himself from the likely ignominy of being lost in the shadow of Sonia and her daughter Priyanka.

But Kesri did go back to Delhi's Palam airport again that day receive Sonia. And the elected president of the Congress continued to play second fiddle to the party's de facto leader, gushing that he was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm she had been able to generate among voters. Indeed, Sonia now leads the party in the fight against the BJP. "It was not an individual who killed Mahatma Gandhi. It was a thought and the same thought threatens to divide the society today," Sonia said in Bardoli (Gujarat) and Jodhpur on January 23, echoing the anti-BJP sentiments voiced in the party manifesto.

While Sonia hopped from state to state to garner support for the party, Kesri remained holed up in Delhi. "He has to chair meetings of the party's election committee and cannot leave Delhi before finalising the list," explained Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sonia's tour coordinator and ex-Kesri aide. But the message that has gone across is different. Maharashtra PCC chief Ranjit Deshmukh requested Sonia to take over the party leadership immediately as she 'alone' could revive it. In other words, there is a perceived lack of faith in Kesri's leadership. Sharad Pawar, who joined her during her poll campaign in the state's Nandurbar constituency, announced that the party would take a 'pragmatic approach' on the leadership issue after the election. The implication is clear.

Deshmukh's appeal is also quite at variance with Kesri's declaration on television that the Congress would not project Sonia as its prime ministerial candidate to avoid controversy. In fact...

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