It is, as yet, only a trickle that may not develop into a flood; the triggers may be essentially local. Yet, it is apt to fall back on the hackneyed cliché: even worms turn. Coming as her forceful comments did ~ just after the defection of former Congress minister in Delhi, Arvind Singh Lovely, to the BJP ~ there is significance to the points raised by Ms Barkha Shukla Singh when stepping down as president of the Delhi Pradesh Mahila Congress. Her immediate target was DPCC chief Ajay Maken (flayed by former chief minister Sheila Dikshit when Lovely switched sides), but she went on to slam the national vice-president and heir-apparent of the Congress.
Even to the extent of declaring that Rahul was “mentally unfit” to lead. Her gripe was that he had ignored complaints that Maken had misbehaved with a number of Mahila Congress activists: “with utmost regret, I have to say that the Congress party under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi and Ajay Maken have only used the issue of empowerment of women and women’s security to gather votes, and it means nothing to them.” She went on to ask, “why does Rahul shy away from party leaders who can ask him questions? He is only interested in meeting sycophants.” According to her, senior party leaders whom she preferred not to identify “are also of the view that Rahul is mentally unfit to lead the party but choose not to say so”. She insists she is remaining with the Congress, but there can be no denying that her protest will have impacted the party’s prospects in the municipal polls.
True that the Congress was not in power in any of the three civic bodies, and that it is not expected to upset apple-carts when the results are tabulated, yet Ms Singh’s open dissent cannot be trivialised. She would be among the first to “take on” Rahul: despite consistently pathetic electoral performances ~ UP and Uttarakhand being prime examples ~ and the chronic lack of political acumen in “gifting” Goa and Manipur to the BJP.
Rahul and his cronies, in and beyond Parliament, have done little to make a mark in the political arena yet experienced, probably more competent persons like Moily, Chidambaram, Kamal Nath, Jairam Ramesh and KV Thomas (to name just a few) have been sidelined by the juvenile upstarts. And for a variety of factors, indifferent health among them, Sonia has lost her sting. Hopes of Priyanka performing the rescue act (complicated by the “reputation” of her husband) did not materialise in UP, and Capt Amarinder Singh waged a heroic but “solo” campaign in Punjab. There would be many silent spectators in the Congress hoping that Barkha Shukla Singh has activated the “RejectRahul” button.