Congress's P Chidambaram said today that Mallikarjun Kharge "is elected the boss and will be the boss" despite naysayers and critics who say otherwise. Asked whether he would be able to assert authority with the Gandhis and party workers, the Rajya Sabha MP said, "The Gandhis will work with him and help him assert his authority".
"He (Mallikarjun Kharge) will consult everybody. He will consult younger, senior leaders. He has made it clear he will have a consultative system. He is elected the boss and he will be the boss," Mr Chidambaram told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Mr Chidambaram, however, clarified that the Gandhis may still have a big part to play. "Gandhis have enormous influence over the party. They never had a closed-door approach," he said.
Mr Kharge's proximity to Gandhis and his declaration that he would consult them when needed, has firmed the perception that he would be a cipher. A battery of Congress leaders, starting with the party's communications in-charge Jairam Ramesh, have negated the possibility.
On Monday, more than 80 per cent of the party's senior leaders from across the country voted in Mr Kharge at the top post, making it clear that they would prefer to stick to the familiar. Shashi Tharoor, who pitched himself as the champion of change, polled around 16 per cent of votes.
Mr Chidambaram, however, indicated that this organisational election may have a trickle-down effect.
"In my talks with party delegates, they want the process of election to percolate down to PCC, DCC and block congress committees. And if elections are held to these bodies, you will see hundreds of people joining the party," he said, reiterating the view that the election will work as a stimulant for the party.
"The BJP is a closed-door party... They don't even have so much as a ventilator... The less said about the regional parties the better. Dissenting voices in Congress are heard from time to time. We are ready to be scrutinised but scrutinise others too. We have passed the test," he added.