It’s been about three months since Rahul Gandhi ‘resigned’ from the post of Congress President after the debacle in the General Election 2019. He presumably told the CWC (Congress Working Committee) to look for another President. In theory he was being ‘accountable’ or so to speak. To emphasise his ‘accountability’ theory and to give a clear signal to the Congress leaders, he later posted a letter on tweeter as well on July 3rd, taking responsibility for the debacle. But then the tone changed in the subsequent paragraphs wherein he directly accused the senior leaders of the party of not doing enough/focussing only on their kin. He went on to mention that he fought the election all alone. Probably ‘accountability’ doesn’t really mean the same to him as it does to general individuals.
And since then the Congress has been trying to function (at least they are trying to keep up the façade to that effect) without a President, even though some leaders do claim that Sonia is the President and the party is ‘not headless’! CWC hasn’t really moved even a step in the direction of choosing a new leader either, despite many of them now feeling increasingly uneasy about the ‘disorientation’ in the party. There have been innumerable tweets from senior leaders of the party expressing concerns at the ‘situation’. Karan Singh (son of Maharaja Hari Singh and a senior Congress leader) said that he was “aghast at the state of confusion and disorientation in the Congress Party”. They all know that it doesn’t auger well for the party, especially when some crucial Assembly elections are coming up. Also, the confusion has led to the party MLAs leaving the sinking ship and joining ranks of the BJP. The coalition Govt in Karnataka with the Congress as a partner has fallen, the party’s Goa unit has virtually merged with the Bharatiya Janata Party, and Govt in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have started shaking. Despite all this, nothing is being done to elect a President. Party leaders are aware that the Gandhi surname is actually what keeps this party together and that’s what gives this family the power. It is a fact that whenever a non-Gandhi (Sitaram Kesri is a case in point) has been the President, the party has splintered. However, in the new India, Gandhis do not seem to enjoy as much clout as they do in the party and there lies the catch 22 situation, not only for the party but also for the country. With a Gandhi at the helm of affairs, it’s unlikely to make any changes in the public perception about this being a dynastic party (This was one point Modi constantly brought forth in the General election) and without a Gandhi, the Congress shall disintegrate. This is not good for the country either. While Modi’s tenure can be debated for its achievements and failures, there can’t be any doubt that a strong democracy thrives only when there is a strong opposition. And we want our democracy to thrive. We want a national party like the Congress to play a substantial role, to defend people’s rights when the ruling party starts acting like a dictator.
Unfortunately, the present state of affairs, indicates a future without an opposition- at least without a strong opposition. If indeed we want our democracy to thrive and stay true to its nature, it’s high time that the ‘albatross’ of the Congress party is dealt with a firm resolution, even if it means disintegration in the beginning. After the downhill, the transition will take the party only upwards. Before they talk of democracy, Congress leaders should practice it within the party and choose a leader through a transparent party election. If Rahul Gandhi is indeed serious about bringing the change, he should facilitate this process and let the elected individual run the show freely with the assurance, that there wouldn’t be any proxy ‘Gandhi president’. It’s time that the regional strong leaders are nurtured and are given free hand to come up on the national scene. Regrettably no one seems to be ready to go through the unpleasant transition mode, as is pretty much evident in the tweets of almost all leaders worth his or her salt, requesting the ‘Gandhi’ (any Gandhi of the trio would do) to take the party reigns in their hands! Or probably its already in their hands. Nothing else explains the choice of an Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as the Congress Lok Sabha leader(to the embarrassment of his own party leaders, he recently made a colossal blunder in the LS while debating on article 370, by stating that the J&K was being monitored by the UN since 1948 and thus implying that decisions taken by the centre on Jammu and Kashmir were not an internal matter!!!!!!!) over a much qualified, articulate and great orator Shashi Tharoor, who had said on TV (Tiranga TV, to be precise) that if offered, he was ready to be the Congress Lok Sabha Leader. Adhir’s choice clearly had the ‘Gandhi’ stamp which never allow(ed) a strong leader to reach a position where he/she can challenge their authority- a ‘resignation tweet’ (drama) notwithstanding.
PS- By the way, did anyone read anything specific in Priyanka Gandhi’s tweet ( https://twitter.com/priyankagandhi/status/1151737043812151296?lang=en) on July 18th with Nelson Mandela wherein she goes on to pronounce Nelson Mandela her inspiration and guide who told her that she ought to be in politics long before anyone else did!!!!! Will surely like to hear your thoughts on this.
Copyright ©Aradhana Mishra
Picture Credit@ National Herald