National

‘Rahul’s indecision is hurting Congress’ prospects’

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on January 17, 2018

JAIRAM RAMESH, Congress spokesperson





Congress spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh says he does not believe that if you don’t do anything, nothing will go wrong. Apparently, he holds the same view for saying anything too. Not one to mince words, Ramesh says he is “disappointed” with Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s irresolution in taking over as party President. With Uttar Pradesh elections inching closer, the indecisiveness is hurting the party’s prospects. In an interview to BusinessLine, Ramesh regrets that his own party has come to be associated with corruption. Excerpts:

You have said that Rahul Gandhi is the de facto President of the Congress party, but he must become de jure. Is the difference very material?

It does matter. The optics of it matters a lot. Also, he will be forced to take decisions which, today he could say, “Let us leave it to the party President”. You see, you are not going to get experience unless you make mistakes. I do not believe in the philosophy that if you don’t do anything, nothing will go wrong. You’ve got to be active, be taking decisions, some will work out, [while] some won’t. But you can do that only if you are in a position of authority.

Today he has still the ‘security blanket’ of the President.

What is holding him back?

I’ve no idea.

In September last year, you said you expected him to take over by the end of 2015.

I still expect him to take over by the end of the year (laughs). I will say this much. I had expected him to take over much earlier. I’m somewhat disappointed that he has not done so. The delay is not helping us. The uncertainty is not helping us. It is not helping him either. It is helping Mr Modi and the Opposition.

I’m of the opinion that he should take over tomorrow. He has the architecture in his mind. He has talked to 200-250 people; he has identified his team. The first team will be about 50 or 60. He knows broadly what innovation he wants to bring about in the organisation. He should just take over.

He will bring in a new team...

Yes, a new team will come. There will be some experienced people, and there will be a youth group. I am all for getting the 40-year-olds into positions of authority.

If he still doesn’t take over, what is your plan B?

I’m still hoping he will. Anything beyond September-October would be unreasonable, on himself and on the party.

You recently said Rahul has a lot of ideas about organisational restructuring..

He has talked about empowering the PCCs (Pradesh Congress Committees), giving greater powers to States, to district leaders; getting a whole new generation of Dalits and tribals into positions of authority. He is after all 45-46 (years of age). He must be having a new perspective. His instincts are fine. I feel that in 2014, the superior campaigner won, the superior human being lost.

Why do Congressmen keep attributing your 2014 failure to the BJP’s better campaign, and not to corruption during the UPA rule?

We have to be very ruthless on corruption. We also have to be perceived as ruthless on corruption. Over the years, somehow we seem to be associated with corrupt regimes. That is not good. But then, the Badals are also associated with corruption, Amma (Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha) is also associated with corruption. Amma is the Gangotri of corruption. And they keep getting re-elected. Amongst all the regional leaders, only Mamata (Banerjee) and Naveen (Patnaik) are not associated with corruption.

Why hasn’t there been sufficient follow-up of the ‘GSPC scam’?

We are going to file a PIL. We are going to take up in the Parliament when the Parliament convenes on the 18{+t}{+h}. It is an issue we will not allow to die.

But we don’t see you being very aggressive...

No, I don’t think we are soft-pedalling the issue. I have no inside information on why it has taken so much time. But I feel that we have got out all the information and put it in public domain.

Published on July 11, 2016

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