Millennium Post

Rahul and the politics of promotions

We often feel astonished and to an extent amused to see the large number of political parties functioning differently in our democratic system. The number keeps on increasing with registration of more and more parties and divisions in the existing parties. It becomes impossible to identify even two or three parties with pan-India presence. While going through the past performance and presence of parties in different states, it is possible for one to draw the conclusion that the Indian National Congress can still boast of being an all-India party. The party held a brainstorming session called Chintan Shivir in Jaipur recently. Youth delegates from across the country deliberated on the role of the next generation in holding the mantle of power.

The ‘Pink City’ gave an opportunity to the youth to rejoice as they believed that their voice would not remain unheard henceforth. The elevation of Rahul Gandhi to the post of the vice president is no doubt a much delayed decision as all leaders, including the old guards, have been demanding a bigger role, including the post of PM, for the Amethi M P. A part of the delay could be attributed to Rahul himself, as he had been expressing his reluctance in this regard despite his being in the public life for the past ten years and his extensive contact with the party workers and the common people. Rahul entered the Lok Sabha in 2004 and started looking after party matters as one of its general secretaries in 2007. One would have to realise that Rahul has, in these years, endeavoured to find his grip over the party. His elevation has electrified the party; however, this is different in many respects from previous such promotions within the party. Rahul has been offered a key post on the force of continued demand raised by the various party members, whereas others like H N Bahuguna, Kamlapati Tripathi, Arjun Singh and Jitendra Prasada, when they were elevated to positions of importance, were so promoted because of other reasons or political compulsions.

Kamlapati Tripathi was elevated as the working president by the then PM and Congress President in 1983 to offer him an honourable post when he was without any assignment. Tripathi had served as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh from 4 April 1971 to 12 June 1973 and as Union Railway Minister from 1975 to 1977. The political analysts though, had more to link to his elevation. They link it with the elevation of Rajiv Gandhi as one of the general secretaries in the party. Rajiv reluctantly joined politics in 1980 after the untimely demise of his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi in a plane crash in Delhi. It is understood that Tripathi was elevated to announce the appointment of Rajiv Gandhi as the general secretary. Rajiv became the PM when he was just 40 years old. However, the soon-to-be 43 Rahul Gandhi, who is being talked of as the future PM, would not be able to enjoy the distinction of becoming the youngest PM, unlike his late father.

Kamlapati was one of the loyal party leaders. His real test came when he went to campaign against his son who contested an election in UP. He went to campaign against his son in Lucknow.

H N Bahuguna , a former UP chief minister and twice Union Minister in the first and the second Non-Congress government was also elevated to a post which was created keeping in view the then political situation. He was given the post of the Secretary General in the party in 1980 when the Congress, under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, was fighting an election battle to come back to power at the centre. It may be mentioned that there is no mention of these posts in the party constitution as these are created as per special dispension of the president. Bahuguna rejoined the Congress Party to help it in regaining the baton of power. He had deserted the Congress Party twice, first in 1977 to form Congress for Democracy along with Babu Jagjivan Ram and former Orissa chief minister Nandini Satpathy and again in 1982. His son Vijay Bahuguna and his daughter Rita Bahuguna Joshi are active members of the Congress.

A three time chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and a Punjab Governor in 1985 was also elevated to the post of Vice President of the Party by the then PM Rajiv Gandhi to reward Arjun Singh for his dedicated contribution in finalising Rajiv- Lonogowal accord in disturbed Punjab after blue star operation. Earlier Rajiv Gandhi had deputed Singh as the Governor of Punjab. Singh left the Congress and the Rao government to form Congress T with ND Tiwari though he later returned to the party fold. He was also a staunch loyalist of Sonia Gandhi.

The Political Advisor to the two PMs, Rao and Rajiv, Jitendra Prasad was elevated to the rank working president in 1997 by the then party president S R Kesari to help him in those days when the party was being termed as fragile.
Satpal is a communication consultant
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