At stake right this moment: Rahul’s mettle, Cong’s may

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 9

Much at stake in Bihar tomorrow, the Congress is leaving nothing to chance.

The party has dispatched AICC general secretary and Bihar poll coordination incharge Randeep Singh Surjewala and state screening committee chief Avinash Pande to Patna to ensure its rank and file stays together, extraneous factors don’t weigh and election results are closely monitored.

Surjewala and Pande had delivered in Rajasthan where they successfully thwarted an attempted coup by former deputy CM Sachin Pilot, who eventually conceded. He will have the same job tomorrow, should election results throw up a hung Assembly.

Caught napping on many occasions in the past, including in Goa, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, where the BJP managed to break its ranks, the Congress wants to stay in the game and even ahead of it this time.

“With the BJP’s history of poaching, we do not want to leave anything to chance,” Congress veteran and working committee member Tariq Anwar said today.

Reasons for the party’s over-preparedness are not far to seek. At stake tomorrow is not just Congress’ electoral might, but also former chief Rahul Gandhi’s political mettle.

Rahul was the sole visible star campaigner for the Congress in the Bihar elections, appearing alongside RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav and urging voters to factor in economy, joblessness and farm distress while casting the ballot.

Tomorrow is Rahul’s chance to show he can deliver alone.

Party chief Sonia Gandhi is awaiting this outcome not just for Congress’ own revival, but also for snubbing an attempted intra-party challenge to the party’s Gandhi family by 23 leaders, who sought elections to party posts.

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