People are sick and tired of the tamasha going on in Congress party
In Congress, it is not enough to be committed to the party. It is not enough, either, to work with dedication for the good of the party. It is also not enough to be loyal to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. You have to make sure that, as long as the First Family member is at the helm, you do not raise issues of effective leadership and seek a revamp of the party’s functioning. If you do, be prepared for the humiliation.
Twenty-three leaders of the Congress party realized it to their chagrin on August 24 when the Congress Working Committee (CWC) met to discuss a letter addressed by these leaders to their interim president Sonia Gandhi. The letter pleaded, among other things, for a “full-time” and “effective” leadership which was both “active” and “visible”. The members who signed it included senior leaders, former Union Ministers, and former Chief Ministers. The letter had been dated August 7.
The resolution the CWC adopted at the end of its seven-hour deliberations expressed faith in her leadership as also that of former president Rahul Gandhi. Nothing changed.
The CWC had enough time to mull over the contents and chart a course of action to address the issues raised. But the panel used that time to craft an entirely different response: Isolate and demean the letter writers, at least four of whom are members of the CWC. The backlash took the well-meaning leaders by shock and surprise. Their motives were questioned, the timing of the letter was scrutinized, and reportedly they were accused of acting in collusion with the BJP — a charge which was later denied by the top leadership.
Ironically, the authors of the missive are known loyalists of the Nehru-Gandhi family and some of them have been in the Congress party for as long as one can remember. They were understandably enraged. One of them, Ghulam Nabi Azad, offered to quit — as leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha or the party itself, was not made clear — in case the allegation was substantiated. Another leader, Kapil Sibal, took to Twitter, listing out his acts of loyalty to the party. It was indeed pathetic to see these leaders being reduced to defending themselves over acts they didn’t perform. There were others too, such as Anand Sharma, who expressed pain and outrage over the insinuations; And there were those signatories like Shashi Tharoor, who remained silent, though surely seething with hurt.
Not surprisingly, the CWC did not waste a minute in discussing the substantive matters raised in the letter. Instead, it concentrated its energies on undermining the letter writers. One panel member even demanded the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the authors of the letter. The CWC meeting ensured that the writers were isolated, cut down to size, and made to look like culprits. In the end, as Mani Shankar Aiyar told a news television channel, status quo ante had been restored. In other words, Sonia Gandhi would continue as interim party chief. The resolution the CWC adopted at the end of its seven-hour deliberations expressed faith in her leadership as also that of former president Rahul Gandhi. Nothing changed.
Suitably chastised, the letters writers have been issuing statements to the effect that all is well. But they know, as do the people at large, that all is not well with the party. The leadership remains inactive, ineffective, and invisible.
There should be no problem in choosing an appropriate ‘outsider’. After all, that person would need to not just have the ‘Family’s blessings’ but also be ready to be remote-controlled by the family.
A year ago, Sonia Gandhi took charge as interim president after Rahul Gandhi quit. The latter had then said that no member of his family would be the next party chief. The party had 12 months to start the process of electing a full-time president outside of the First Family. But it did nothing. A day before the CWC meeting was held, Sonia Gandhi expressed her desire to quit. But she did not follow up on that. Meanwhile, the clamour is on for Rahul Gandhi to return.
What is holding the party back from electing a new leader? Rahul Gandhi does not want to hold that position, and Sonia Gandhi does not want to continue as interim chief. That leaves Priyanka Vadra. But she is presently occupied in being Uttar Pradesh’s new messiah. Besides, if she takes charge, what would happen to Rahul Gandhi’s assertion — that no family member would occupy the post?
There should be no problem in choosing an appropriate ‘outsider’. After all, that person would need to not just have the ‘Family’s blessings’ but also be ready to be remote-controlled by the family. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi is adept in that art; they have ten years of experience in having managed the Manmohan Singh government. The problem lies in the improbabilities. What happens if the chosen one suddenly develops spine, like Narasimha Rao did, both as Prime Minister and party president, and proceeds to exert independence from the dynasty? What if he turns out to be another Sachin Pilot or Jyotiraditya Scindia, with a mind of his own? This is a terrible thought for the Nehru-Gandhi members and their sycophants.
Meanwhile, the people are sick and tired of the tamasha.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.