“If the Gandhis really want the Congress to survive as a political instrument to serve the interests of India, then Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka should announce their complete withdrawal from public life. If the mother-son duo would resign from Lok Sabha and party posts, the nation may witness a total political transformation that could help India become a stronger democracy”
By Tathagata Satpathy ex-MP
For the Congress party, Rajasthan seems to be going the Madhya Pradesh (MP) way. A vertical split in the ruling party in MP brought down the Kamal Nath-led government in late March, days before the nationwide Lockdown was declared. Some reports at the time claimed that the Lockdown was delayed to allow this political event to play out. Current reports are that the Congress would face the same fate in Rajasthan; however it has taken nearly four months of the critical lockdown period to take political matters to a head in the state. It is known that there is no love lost between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, and a parting of ways is likely.
To begin with, the Congress leadership alone must take the blame for what’s happening to it on multiple fronts. On the one side, its governments are falling; on the other, its young lot of leaders are either quitting, readying to quit or have started openly airing their desperation about the lack of leadership and guidance at the highest level. It is obvious the Congress is going downhill. Unlike Modi for the BJP, or certain regional leaders like Naveen Patnaik, Jagan Reddy, Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar or even Stalin for their respective parties, who are the darlings of the masses and most candidates contesting on the symbols propped by these leaders win hands down, the Congress today is not only leaderless but seems to be paralysed and directionless. The days of Indira Gandhi and her Garibi Hatao slogan are long gone. Today’s Sonia Gandhi does, indeed, seem like a true foreigner who has absolutely no inkling about the soul of India. The present socio-political-economic crisis that has befallen India is because of her long stint as the backseat driver of the Manmohan Singh government. It is a pity that a party which had been destined to be dissolved immediately after Independence managed to survive so long. What Mahatma Gandhi had desired as the future of the Congress was absolutely correct. However, strong personalities seem to successively revive a dead horse called the Indian National Congress. Today’s Congress leadership should not be misinterpreted as being limited to a mother-son duo. The recent decay in the Congress started more than a decade ago. People like Pranab Mukherjee, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Chidambaram, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Gehlot, Kamal Nath and other such characters left a stench that successfully asphyxiated the Congress. These individuals benefitted at the cost of the party for a very long time. While the going was good, the worst got going. These so-called leaders never tried any course correction or did not bother to speak their minds when national interest should have been primary to them. This silence produced creatures like Ahmed Patel and a bunch of other figures who claimed to represent the minorities which eventually did not make much sense in the greater interest of the Congress or the country. Young or old, anyone who gets political recognition must understand that the political outfit that offers them the recognition must not only be remembered with gratitude but they also have to ensure that every act of that party is pro-people and favouring national interests. Unfortunately for the Congress, the present crop at the helm knows only how to ‘take’. The party’s culture did not teach them how to ‘give’. This translated into the actions of these Congress leaders while they were dealing with subjects that had great political importance for India. The other sad part of the Congress was that it did not allow local leadership to blossom and grow. The party that once took pride of its mass involvement has now degenerated to appoint moneybags as Pradesh Congress chiefs. Even in a state like Odisha, it is hilarious to observe a huge cutout of the PCC chief looking down while some minor office bearers hold a press conference. A political non-entity, incapable of winning even an Assembly seat for himself, has the audacity to cling to the post of State chief primarily because of reasons that even the common voter understands. If this be the case in Odisha, obviously the same situation is replicated all over. A major reason for this is the attitude of destroying ground level political activists with a convincing political ethos. The downfall of the Congress has not been brought about by the BJP. The party has been decimated by the people of India for the misbehaviour of the leadership.
As far as politicians like Scindia or Pilot are concerned, their urgency to grab office is making their political longevity shaky. There is no doubt that the BJP today is also going the Congress way, fast. There are reports that keeping Bihar and Nitish Kumar as examples, the BJP leadership desires to have non-entities as state Chief Ministers. This is obviously the outcome of the Central leader’s desire that every one down the line must only be a Yes man. This is precisely what Indira Gandhi had started in the Congress and those acts took many decades to bear fruit. Now in these modern times, the results may show up much quicker.
The types of Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot may get temporary reprieve and some solace by joining the BJP and toppling their respective state governments. Apart from the hugely differing political culture between the Congress and the BJP, these young leaders have definitely marred their images in the public mind. In a feudal society where ideologies do not matter to anyone, betrayal is perceived negatively. A case in point is that of Chandrababu Naidu whose flirtations and later distancing with the BJP completely destroyed him. There in Andhra Pradesh, the current Chief Minister Jagan Reddy seems to be playing a smarter ‘blow-hot-blow-cold’ game with the BJP.
The long impasse and later conciliation with the Scindia faction in MP clearly demonstrated what the future portends for that group within the BJP.
The story of Aaya Ram Gaya Ram is not new in Indian politics. However, the present voter was hoping that politicians will be guided by their economic and social commitments that they stood for when they were in the party that they represented. The fluidity in Indian political character seems to have returned with force. If the Gandhis really want the Congress to survive as a political instrument to serve the interests of India, then Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka should announce their complete withdrawal from public life. If the mother-son duo would resign from Lok Sabha and party posts, the nation may witness a total political transformation that could help India become a stronger democracy. For one, the people in power will have to stop blaming the past and will be compelled to produce results.
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