Only a few days after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, where the Gandhi family loyalists and those opposing its monopoly, fought bitterly over the position of the party president, Ashok Gehlot, the senior Congress leader who took the side of the Gandhi family, has been appointed as the All India Congress Committee (AICC) chief observer for the Kerala assembly election.
Gehlot, along with Luizinho Faleiro and G Parameswara, the other two observers appointed by the Sonia Gandhi headed AICC, will communicate and observe the high command’s decision on the campaign strategy and the procedures for the selection of the candidates.
A few days ago, Ashok Gehlot and Anant Sharma fought bitterly in the CWC meeting over the post of the party president and other posts in the party.
Ashok Gehlot was clearly on the side of party leadership remaining in the hands of Gandhis, and, without naming anyone, he said, “Party ne bahut kuch diya hai. Hum jo bhi hain Congress ki wajah se hain (The party has given us a lot. Whatever we are today is because of the Congress),” Gehlot reportedly said during the meeting, in an apparent dig at those demanding early election for the post of party president.
Reacting to Gehlot’s statement, Anand Sharma too had shot back saying, “We have also contributed a lot for the party. Have given 42 years to the party.”
Given the fact that Ashok Gehlot has always been loyal to the Gandhi family, and he is probably the only senior leader with some clout, he has been given the responsibility of the Kerala instead of Shashi Tharoor or Kapil Sibal- who have been critical of the Gandhi family in the last few months.
Previously, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot mounted an attack on party dissenters and those who were harping on the need for immediate elections for the Congress President’s post, complemented with other structural reforms within the party. Gehlot attacked some of the ‘letter-writers’ and called their actions ‘disrespectful’ while saying that after being in the CWC for decades without fighting an election, they have suddenly woken up to the need of holding elections to the party’s highest decision-making body.
Ashok Gehlot seems to be on the path of becoming a leader who speaks out openly what the other senior Congress leaders, religiously loyal to the Gandhis, cannot say. While Congress has many spokespersons, Ashok Gehlot is fast emerging as the personal spokesman of the Gandhi-Vadra family and is being rewarded for that.
Ashok Gehlot’s absolute allegiance to Sonia Gandhi is a mere payback for the Congress godmother saving the man’s political fortunes during his time of crisis. Now that Sonia Gandhi finds herself in a tough spot, the Rajasthan Chief Minister is working overtime to a firefight on her behalf.