Rahul must not reward time-servers with RS seats

Rasheed Kidwai | 28 Jan 2018 02:48 PM

Congress President Rahul Gandhi (Photo: PTI/File)

After its good performance in the Gujarat Assembly election, the Congress is in a position to win two Rajya Sabha seats in the April 2018 biannual polls for the Upper House. As expected, hectic lobbying has begun and the names of Bharatsinh Solanki and Janardhan Dwivedi are doing the rounds.

Rahul Gandhi must resist the culture of rewarding loyalty at the expense of the Congress’s interest. Accommodating an “outsider” like Dwivedi would do enormous harm. The newly appointed AICC chief must ponder if any purpose would be served in doling out his mother’s one-time Hindi speech writer another six years in the Rajya Sabha. The question that needs to be asked is, what will Dwivedi, a time-server, bring to the table?

Congress benches in the Rajya Sabha are already packed with the likes of Dwivedi —Ambika Soni, Madhusudan Mistry, Rajiv Shukla, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Motilal Vora (the list of inactive old fogies is rather endless) who are incapable of winning any direct poll or mustering voters in their home towns or respective wards. Dwivedi is no exception. Hailing from Uttar Pradesh side of Chitrakoot, the AICC general secretary, who got two Rajya Sabha terms from Delhi, had to be introduced to the audience each time he accompanied Rahul in that region.

In terms of providing cerebral strength to the grand old party, Dwivedi, a former socialist, caused acute embarrassment to the Congress high command twice. He advocated end of caste based reservations only to be rebuked by Sonia Gandhi publically.  In January 2015, Dwivedi had described Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2014 Lok Sabha electoral win as a victory of “Indianness”. He also said Modi’s ascension to power marked the beginning of a “new period.”

Dwivedi had said, “Modi aur BJP logon ko samjhane main safal ho gaye ki samajik roop se wo desh ke nagrik ke jyada nikat hain. Kul milakar bina kahe bole to yeh ek tarah se Bhartiyata ki jeet hai. (Modi and the BJP have been successful in convincing the people that socially, they are closer to them. Without elaborating, it can be said that in a way it was the victory of Indianness).”

The Congress was quick to slap a show cause notice and refer Dwivedi’s case to AICC’s central disciplinary committee. It was then said that Rahul was personally keen to "discipline" Dwivedi.  A strong lobby of Brahmin leaders led by Motilal Vora worked behind the scene to save Dwivedi and Sonia had to step in to prevail upon Rahul to give Dwivedi "a chance."

Question is whether Rahul should still be rewarding a man who wanted to end caste based reservation and linked Modi with “Indian-ness” when the Rahul-led Congress is trying to make a distinction between “politics of love versus politics of anger; brotherhood versus hatred; truth versus falsehood; dialogue versus monologue; listening versus speechifying; arrogance versus humility; pluralism versus uniformity; diversity versus homogeneity; and above all, a politics of kindness versus a politics of fear”?

Even a cursory look at Gujarat politics will show the presence of large scale young and dynamic caste leaders, anti-corruption whistle-blowers, rights activists and farm-sector leaders with great potential and determination who need to be integrated with mainstream politics. Rules for Rajya Sabha polls may have been amended to remove domicile clause, but in public mind, especially in Gujarat, roots remain central and a determining factor for many.

In more pragmatic terms, a ruling party in power in 18 states and clear majority in the Lok Sabha, can perhaps afford to draft its key functionaries and Ministers in the Rajya Sabha from any state but not the Congress which is struggling to survive.

Rasheed Kidwai is the Associate Editor with The Telegraph. His Twitter handle is @rasheedkidwai

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