With the Lok Sabha dates announced on Sunday, the election campaigning is in full swing. Well prepared parties have most things organized by this point and are now dedicating their time to reach out to the people. However, Rahul Gandhi led Congress party has more worrisome, crucial matters to sort out before the actual campaigning. It has come to light that a number of senior leaders from the party have decided not to contest elections. So far, KC Venugopal, Prithviraj Chavan and former PM Manmohan Singh have declared that they will not be contesting the Lok Sabha polls.
Prithviraj Chavan, senior Congress leader former Chief Minister of Maharashtra has stated categorically that he will not contest the general elections from any constituency. A former minister of state in the prime minister’s office (PMO), Chavan has been elected for three consecutive terms to the Lok Sabha from his hometown Karad in the 1991, 1996 and 1998 elections. His name was being considered for the Pune Lok Sabha seat as he is in charge of the Pune Congress and there is also the fact that the Congress lacks visionary leaders in that district. Prithviraj Chavan has been recognized as a politician with a clean image; an image he felt might be jeopardized should he continue to be associated with the Congress.
Similarly, KC Venugopal a senior Congress leader from Kerala’s Alappuzha constituency, who is also party’s General Secretary and in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka has stated that he will not contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. He appears to have preferred to stay in Karnataka and abide by the voters. KC Venugopal is a key aide to Rahul Gandhi. As the in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka, he helped the ruling alliance in the state through several tight spots over the last few months. The sitting parliamentarian from Alappuzha was also instrumental in ironing out differences between party factions in Rajasthan and finalising Congress’ alliance with the DMK in Tamil Nadu recently. Moreover, KC Venugopal had performed remarkably well in the 2014 elections wherein he had beaten his closest competitor by a margin of nearly 20,000 votes. Nevertheless, KC Venugopal is resolute on his decision and has even informed the party leadership of the same.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been displaying his reluctance to contest the Lok Sabha election from Amritsar. Apparently in great demand, the Punjab Congress unit including Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, state in-charge Asha Kumari and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sunil Jakhar have made a ‘fervent request’ telling the former Prime Minister that Punjabis would be delighted if he contested the election from Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, home to the holiest Sikh shrine Golden Temple. The Chief Minister is learnt to have told him, “All you have to do is file your nomination papers. I take full responsibility for your campaign and will run it personally. I will camp in Amritsar. Please don’t say no. Please think it over.” However, in spite of such earnest requests from the person who himself contested from Amritsar and went on to become the chief minister, Manmohan Singh has not responded positively.
Prithviraj Chavan and KC Venugopal are the two key Congress leaders who have decided to stay in their respective states and the sole reason attributed to not contesting the Lok Sabha elections is that they do not want to be involved with the party at the national level. It is no secret that Rahul Gandhi is an incompetent leader, who is running the party disarray under his leadership. His leadership is so disappointing that senior leaders who have been contesting the Lok Sabha elections till 2014 have decided to forgo and miss the crucial election. These experienced leaders do not want to come under the direct control of the party president and be forced to act upon the whims and fancies of an inexperienced leader like the Gandhi scion. They would rather stay in the state government where Rahul Gandhi’s influence and his policies is far lesser. Moreover, Congress is nowhere in a position to even put up a good fight and the senior and experienced leaders know this deep down. They are unwilling to take futile efforts to perish in a lost cause.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, though as usual silent regarding his thought processes, need not say further. He has a firsthand experience and is quite well versed with the kind of politics the mother-son duo indulges in. A man known for his economic reforms has finally decided to let the sinking ship go as those who don’t will be brought down with it.