Column | The wait for crucial appointments in Congress and BJP prolongs

Column | The wait for crucial appointments in Congress and BJP prolongs
Congress president Sonia Gandhi

Congress activists joke that the biggest waiting room in Delhi is the one attached to Sonia Gandhi's office. Sonia who has been heading the party for nearly two decades has been known to take her own time on giving positions in the party organisations, the few party-ruled state governments and earlier in the two central governments run by the United Progressive Alliance. Even now the 'WR', as the office-bearers of the All-India Congress Committee call it, is filled to the brim due to the time taken over decisions on government and party in Punjab and Rajasthan.

Followers of Sachin Pilot who rebelled against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot are waiting for more than a year for a resolution of their conflict. Navjyot Singh Sidhu, the latest rebel to pop out of the Punjab bottle, has been promised his fate in the waiting room would be decided by mid-July.

The latest to join will be Kerala leaders led by KPCC chief K Sudhakaran as the high command has to take a decision on the new organisational team apart from Sudhakaran and the three working presidents. Also in the waiting room are the aspirants for UDF convenorship even though the high command has not announced there is a vacancy nor have the aspirants whose name is in circulation like K Muraleedharan and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan have declared any interest.

Another senior leader from Kerala who is expecting consideration at the high command level is Ramesh Chennithala, who bared his heart to former party chief Rahul Gandhi in a June meeting. Chennithala's supporters are buoyant that the former leader of the opposition who has been occupying positions in organisation and government for long periods would become an AICC general secretary. Yet chennithala has been coy about his expectations insisting that he is confident that the high command has heard his anguish and would stand by him, without mentioning whether any AICC post has been discussed with him.

The queue at PM Modi's

If Sonia's waiting room is large, the one attached to Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also becoming bigger as he has kept ministerial aspirants in suspense for over a year. Even though some organisational changes have been made after J P Nadda took over as the BJP president succeeding Amit Shah, Modi has kept more than 100 ministerial aspirants on tenterhooks. While the waiting period for Madhya Pradesh leader Jyotiraditya Scindia has been a long one, another prominent BJP leader to enter the waiting room is former Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

Even though discussions with JD(U) president Nitish Kumar on inducting the Bihar regional party into the Union cabinet has concluded, Nitish has retained suspense on who are in his own waiting room to be nominated as and when Modi expands his cabinet.

In the party, there are four vacancies in the BJP parliamentary board caused by the resignation of Venkaiah Naidu after he became the Vice President of India in 2017 and the deaths of Ananth Kumar (2019), Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj (2020). Senior leaders including chief ministers B S Yediyurappa, Yogi Adityanath, former chief ministers Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh, Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Nirmala Sitharaman are among the names mentioned.

The fate of Mani and Kodiyeri

Regional parties too have their own waiting rooms. In the case of Kerala Congress (Mani), its Chairman Jose K Mani is anxiously working out his parliamentary career after the shock defeat in assembly election, even though his party triumphed as a new constituent of the Left Democratic Front. While he had ambitions of following his illustrious father as a minister in Kerala, there are no seeming viable vacancies in the assembly, unless one of his party MLAs vacates a seat. Since he resigned the Rajya Sabha membership before contesting the assembly polls, now he has to await the bypoll announcement of the Election Commission, where LDF is expected to accommodate the wishes of the Kerala Congress (M).

Interestingly, the most prominent person waiting in the CPM's waiting room would be ailing veteran Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who is on long leave from the secretary's post. The party has not disclosed whether it is having internal discussions on facilitating the return of the secretary to his post, following the resounding success of the CPM in the April state polls.

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