Prashant Kishor’s formula for the Congress’s resuscitation in Uttar Pradesh is as follows: Rahul Gandhi; if he demurs, then Priyanka; and if she also doesn’t want to lead the party in the state, then Sheila Dikshit. This is a sure way of shooting down the chances of at least one person. Even assuming that the venerable Dikshit – who has proven credentials as a chief minister and administrator, having bucked incumbency three times (a record not many Congress CMs can boast of) to lead the Delhi Congress – is willing to re-enter the snake-pit of UP politics at the age of 75-plus, what should we really expect from her? Every mohallaBrahmin who is a secret Congress sympathiser will be ready to jump into the fray – if it is to be Sheila Dikshit, why not me?
: Two things are obvious. One, that Sonia Gandhi has retreated completely from decision making. She merely initials suggestions emanating from Tughlak Lane and 10 Janpath is merely a re-tweeting authority where a retweet is an endorsement. The leadership transition is happening even as we speak. In this process, many are deeply unhappy. They had invested in 10 Janpath and that piece of real estate is rapidly becoming worthless. The older leaders in the party knew and trusted the moves made by 10 Janpath. They don’t understand alternate poles of power like Prashant Kishor. No rebellion yet, but sabotage cannot be ruled out.
The second follows the first. If Sonia Gandhi is retreating, Rahul Gandhi cannot leave the running of the party and allow himself to be boxed in. If he becomes party president after May 19, as is generally expected, Priyanka will have to willy-nilly take charge in UP. To that extent, Dikshit etc are red herrings: no doubt they are conscious of it as well.
What is clear is the Kishor strategy of disruption. The Congress was nowhere in the reckoning in UP. Now suddenly people have begun talking about the party, there is discussion and speculation and the games have begun.