Kharge stumps Venugopal with Lovely

New Delhi: The appointment of former minister Arvinder Singh Lovely as the Delhi Congress chief has established party chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s control over the organisation.

The appointment had become a bone of contention between Kharge and the party general secretary in-charge of the organisation K C Venugopal who wanted his favourite Devender Yadav on the post.

Yadav, who is the party’s Uttarakhand in-charge, was also backed by senior leader Ajay Maken, considered close to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

The third leader in the contention was former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s son Sandeep Dikshit. However, his recent utterances against the party resulted in his quick exit from the race.

Yadav had faced flak for the party’s dismal show in last year’s assembly elections in Uttarakhand where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) convincingly retained power despite facing a strong anti-incumbency against its government.

Venugopal was keen to see him as the Delhi Congress president but Kharge wanted Lovely. Ultimately, Kharge prevailed.

The feedback taken from the ground also suggested that Lovely, being a former minister, ex-Delhi Congress chief and a prominent Sikh face would be a better choice than Yadav who does not enjoy wider support in the city-state.

Besides, Lovely is not against a tie-up with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as compared to other leaders such as Maken and Dikshit. With the INDIA alliance taking concrete steps in putting up a united front for the next Lok Sabha elections, the Congress did not want any hurdles in its alliance with the AAP or be seen as a stumbling block in the opposition unity.

It is well-known in Congress circles that Venugopal throws his weight around due to his closeness with Rahul Gandhi. In Rahul Gandhi’s name, Venugopal manages to get his favourites appointed to key posts.

Of late, however, Rahul Gandhi has ensured that Kharge has a free hand in decision-making, an example of which could be seen in the composition of the Congress Working Committee (CWC). Kharge accommodated all his people in the party’s highest decision-making body.

But will Kharge’s writ run large in future too is something only time will tell.

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