New Delhi: Whilst Rahul Gandhi’s media management is quite successful, the scion himself is being written off in Congress circles. Party insiders retail an extraordinary statement that he may lose the Amethi seat in the next general election, and that Congress’s national tally may not cross 55 seats. In Uttar Pradesh, the state with the most number of Lok Sabha seats, and the traditional decider of the fate of Central governments, the party is expected to get just 3 seats, down from 22 in the 2009 polls.

Who is single-handedly responsible for pulling down Rahul Gandhi?

Digvijay Singh, say Congress leaders in unison.

This carries the suggestion that but for Digvijay Singh, Rahul Gandhi would have soared into the high heavens. This is not the case. There is only so much anyone can be tutored, and his tutors have given up on Rahul Gandhi. Loyalty, however, is something Congressmen cannot give up, and loyal Congressmen make out Digvijay Singh to be the villain in the destruction of Rahul Gandhi’s political career. “It is hard to fathom what Rahul Gandhi sees in Digvijay Singh to be so devoted to him,” said a Congress sympathizer. Added an Uttar Pradesh party leader, “Digvijay Singh is a serpent.”

Contrary to how he is portrayed in the media, which carries his quotes once a day, Digvijay Singh does not find himself among the decision-makers surrounding Sonia Gandhi. After Congress’s crushing defeat in the Uttar Pradesh elections, Sonia Gandhi has taken control of the party again. Digvijay Singh has been pushed to the peripheries, and Priyanka Gandhi has stepped into the Uttar Pradesh theatre, quietly displacing her brother. As part of the media buildup, Rahul Gandhi is being projected as the number 2 after Sonia Gandhi, and this projection could be traced back in some measure to Digvijay Singh. But this is not the reality.

The correct position is that there is no number 2 to the Congress president. Presently, Sonia Gandhi is making all the decisions, and this state of affairs is unlikely to change till the general election, which could be held in November 2013 alongwith some assembly polls.

When Sanjay Gandhi died in an airplane crash, Rajiv Gandhi reluctantly stepped into the frame. It is what his mother wanted, although he was unwilling. Mrs Indira Gandhi’s assassination thrust the prime-ministership on a yet-unprepared Rajiv Gandhi, and the subsequent great election mandate he received put him in the fast lane whose speeds he couldn’t handle. His crash was inevitable.

Sonia Gandhi’s crisis with Rahul Gandhi is that he has crashed prematurely. She has had to ignore her illness to take charge of the party after her son’s miserable performance in Uttar Pradesh. She has since chosen her own Uttar Pradesh party chief, turning down Rahul Gandhi’s choice. Digvijay is out. Priyanka Gandhi is in. But Uttar Pradesh may be a case of too little, too late. Party leaders of the state have no hopes for Congress. Even dedicated party leaders are keeping their options open with the rival Samajwadi Party.

Can Digvijay Singh and even Rahul Gandhi alone or together be blamed for Congress’s sorry state of affairs? Perhaps not. But see it from Sonia Gandhi’s perspective. Here was Rahul Gandhi given full authority and unlimited treasure to do as he wished in the two major elections of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, and he failed in both. Digvijay Singh was given a free hand to bulk up Rahul Gandhi as a political leader, and he has been no good. With his running commentary against detractors of the UPA-2 government, Digvijay hopes to return into the good books of Sonia Gandhi, who he has realized holds the real power in Congress. But Sonia Gandhi is on the desperate lookout for winners for the party, and neither Rahul nor Digvijay Singh makes that list. She is open to any scheme to revive Congress, but those who have the wherewithal also know the party is a sinking ship, and have other secret plans.

Sonia Gandhi is left with no cards to play now.