If there was one fixed accusation towards the Gandhis, it’s that they’ve all the time surrounded themselves with a triple-A rated coterie of allies, aides and advisors. Whereas the existence of this inside circle has been continuous, the members have fluctuated through the years, their dwindling mixed political acumen and mass help maybe mirroring the fortunes of the Congress occasion.
This inside circle is structured like a photo voltaic system. How a lot sway these members maintain over decision-making relies on their closeness to the Gandhis as their political careers depend on orbiting across the shining star of the occasion on the time. However the fading mild of the present management – Sonia Gandhi in addition to her son Rahul Gandhi – has meant that the Congress now has two stars, and people orbiting round every of them have gotten fewer through the years, whereas some overlap.
As the present interim president, Sonia Gandhi continues to position her belief within the outdated guard, surrounding herself with revered leaders like Manmohan Singh and former defence minister AK Antony, in addition to the likes of Ambika Soni and highly effective occasion treasurer Ahmed Patel, who’ve been a part of her camp ever since she first took over because the Congress chief in 1998. Rounding out this group is Suman Dubey, who was an in depth good friend of former PM Rajiv Gandhi and was a founding members of the charitable organisation in his title.
A senior chief like Ghulam Nabi Azad, whose unlikely mutiny towards the Congress management added heft to the rebel by the ‘Group of 23’, nonetheless, not finds himself on this unique membership regardless of being a Gandhi loyalist for almost 4 a long time. Additionally watching from the sidelines will likely be different dissidents like Kapil Sibal, Anand Sharma and Veerappa Moilly.
The second rung in Sonia Gandhi’s inside circle consists of different leaders that type the ‘outdated guard’ – Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, former residence minister Sushilkumar Shinde and nine-time Lok Sabha MP, Malikarjun Kharge, who led the Congress within the decrease home between 2014 and 2019, however now sits within the Rajya Sabha after his unblemished election document was overwhelmed final yr.
Additionally discovering a spot on this center rung are two trustworthy retainers of Rahul Gandhi – Randeep Surjewala, who has misplaced his final two elections and KC Venugopal, who received twice from Alappuzha however didn’t contest in 2019.
Trying in from the surface boundaries of this inside circle are Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, who opposed the bid by some Congress leaders to problem the Gandhi household management within the occasion, and described their transfer to name for a rehaul of the occasion as ill-timed. One other chief who finds himself at this degree is senior lawyer and spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, who has additionally referred to as on all occasion members to observe and belief the management.
Former union minister P Chidambaram, who was additionally not within the checklist of 23 signatories of the missive despatched to Sonia Gandhi searching for organisational reforms, can be on this ultimate layer of this inside circle. He was lately duly rewarded by the occasion excessive command and was given a spot on the excessive desk on key committees arrange by Sonia Gandhi forward of the parliament session whereas “dissidents” have been neglected.
As is former minister Jairam Ramesh, who has all the time managed to please his totally different bosses. Not solely is he within the camp of Sonia Gandhi, he’s additionally thought-about near Rahul Gandhi and was included in his consultative committee to assist the occasion tide over this dry Covid-19 political interval.
Whereas Sonia Gandhi retains the corporate of veteran leaders who’ve prior to now confirmed themselves within the political area, the Workplace of RG – as Rahul Gandhi’s camp is informally recognized – consists principally of younger politicians and professionals who he thinks can deliver a brand new fashion of functioning and revive the fortunes of the Congress.
Other than Surjewala and Venugopal, the closest aides of Rahul Gandhi are social media coordinator Nikhil Alva, former funding banker Alankar Sawai, ‘strategic advisor’ Sachin Rao, Oxford scholar Kaushal Kishore Vidarthee and Sam Pitroda, a telecom engineer who was appointed chairman of the Indian Abroad Congress.
Alva, a former tv producer and son of former Rajasthan governor and former occasion common secretary Margaret Alva, has been described because the gatekeeper of Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter account and was accountable for growing the engagement on his deal with forward of the Lok Sabha elections. Rao, who was final yr appointed because the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of “coaching” and “Sandesh”, is an MBA in company technique and worldwide enterprise from Michigan Enterprise College. As a part of his coaching programme, Rao had advised calling trainers “preraks”, however the proposal was rejected by Sonia Gandhi and was dubbed as aping the BJP by different occasion leaders.
Much less outlined is the function of Alankar Sawai, a former worker of a number one personal financial institution and an IIM graduate, who was thought-about to be the eyes and ears of Rahul Gandhi. Most papers, appointments used to undergo him, however many imagine he would depart if Rahul doesn’t take cost of the occasion once more quickly.
Together with Sawai, Rahul Gandhi had entrusted the job of appointments to key positions to Kaushal, who holds a D Phil in social coverage and an M Phil in improvement research from Oxford College. The Bihar scholar is taken into account somebody to be careful for as he’s stated to be equally snug with new-age expertise and understanding the bottom realities of the Hindi heartland.
Technocrat Sam Pitroda, who has been near the Congress’ first household for the reason that occasions of Rajiv Gandhi, rounds out this inside coterie of non-political figures. Because the chairman of Indian Abroad Congress, Pitroda has helped set up Rahul Gandhi’s conferences with members of the Indian diaspora and his talks at US universities, in addition to political campaigns in meeting elections right here.
Additionally a part of the core staff of Rahul Gandhi’s core staff are Assam MP Gaurav Gogoi, son of former CM Tarun Gogoi, and Ajay Maken, who was lately introduced again from political oblivion after shedding his deposit in two consecutive Delhi Lok Sabha polls and abruptly appointed common secretary in-charge of Rajasthan.
Together with this current placement for Maken, one other member of staff Rahul – former Assam MP Sushmita Dev – lately changing into extra vocal at occasion fora has led to solutions that Rahul Gandhi could lastly be able to play a bigger function within the occasion as soon as once more. Dev was the pinnacle of the ladies wing of the occasion and in addition essentially the most vocal throughout her stint in Lok Sabha.
Srinivas BV, the brand new Youth Congress president whose hands-on strategy has received him reward from senior leaders, and Manicka Tagore, who defeated Vaiko within the Lok Sabha elections, are the others who type a part of this group. Former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, who returned to the Congress fold lately after his rebel towards Gehlot fizzled out, and former Karnataka MP Rajeev Gowda, have additionally remained within the Rahul Gandhi camp regardless of the swings in fortune.