The confused mindset down the line in Congress is a direct fallout of a confused and non-existent leadership at the top
The Congress party has a strange way of dealing with situations. It refuses to acknowledge a problem upfront and proceeds to deal with it in a circuitous way. The old guard versus young leaders issue is a case in point. Spokespersons of the party first pooh-poohed reports of a rift between the two, saying it was a figment of the imagination. But now they have asked warring leaders to raise the issue in the party’s internal platforms and not play “Twitter, Twitter”.
This is a roundabout way of admitting the long-running friction. Various senior and youth leaders have been tweeting their views on the matter, and often their opinions have clashed. This has led to much embarrassment to the high command which already has enough on its hands to tackle. A spokesperson of the party recently said there was enough internal democracy within the organization that can help resolve issues without taking them into the public domain.
There is simply no cohesion in the Congress party. The leadership is missing, and party men are struggling with a paucity of issues to put the Modi government on the mat. Worse, they end up choosing issues that are either non-existent or have been given closure.
But the claim of internal democracy has been busted once too often. Had there been genuine internal democracy, the party would not have lost Jyotiraditya Scindia and the State of Madhya Pradesh. It would not have faced the rebellion led by Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan. Sanjay Jha, for long the Mumbai-based party spokesperson would not have been axed. It’s silly to believe that these leaders did not first raise issues in the party’s internal forums. They did, and repeatedly, but acted after their missives were ignored.
The party leadership’s advice to its seniors to not wash dirty linen in public has been selectively implemented. The high command did nothing when Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot launched a vicious personal attack on Sachin Pilot, calling him, publicly, worthless and useless. This, when efforts are being made to retain Pilot and his supporters in the party.
The warring factions have opened up another front. There is a group of leaders who believes that the problems for Congress began with the inept governance of Congress-Led UPA 2. A young leader considered close to former president Rahul Gandhi is reported to have told his colleagues, who were facing eloquent, that they must introspect on the root of the current state of the party — which lay in the UPA 2’s performance. That riled some of the leaders, who insisted that the Manmohan Singh government’s second term was nothing to be ashamed of, and compared to the performance of the Prime Minister’s government, it was stellar. How many people are going to buy that argument? They haven’t forgotten the puppet regime’s functioning, nor have they lost sight of the various scams that erupted during that government’s rule.
There is simply no cohesion in the Congress party. The leadership is missing, and party men are struggling with a paucity of issues to put the Modi government on the mat. Worse, they end up choosing issues that are either non-existent or have been given closure. Take the case of Rafale. When the first five of the fighter jets arrived in India recently from France, the country celebrated. But Congress leaders raked up past accusations of irregularity in their purchase. Accusations that had been set aside by the Supreme Court months ago; accusations that had found no resonance among the voters in 2019.
Sonia Gandhi continues to be interim president, and Rahul Gandhi cannot make up his mind on whether he should return as party chief.
The Bhoomi Pujan of Ram temple issue is another example of the Congress party’s inability to select the right agenda. While the country excitedly awaits the August 5 ceremony, to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ayodhya, Congress leaders have been carping on the ‘un-secular’ nature of a secular country’s Prime Minister involving himself in a particular religious act. This would not be the first time that the Prime Minister would participate in religious activity. He has attended the Ganga Aarti in Varanasi and visited several temples in the course of his six-year tenure. There are politicians who took oath as Members of Parliament in the name of Allah.
But the flawed and discredited Nehruvian concept of secularism still persists in the minds of some, particularly the Congress. They are the same people who filed an affidavit in the apex court, saying that Lord Ram never existed. They have been at the forefront of demeaning everything associated with the Hindu faith. Terms like ‘Hindu terror’ and ‘Saffron terror’ were coined by them. They sought to give a communal color to the recent Delhi riots, hinting that it was executed by members of the majority community to target the Muslims.
The confused mindset down the line is a direct fallout of a confused and non-existent leadership at the top. Sonia Gandhi continues to be interim president, and Rahul Gandhi cannot make up his mind on whether he should return as a party chief. If he accepts to return, it will be a violation of everything he said earlier — for instance, he had forcefully said that no member of the Nehru-Gandhi family should assume charge.
Meanwhile, Priyanka Vadra is on her own trip. She wishes to concentrate on Uttar Pradesh but does not hesitate to dabble elsewhere. She tried to resolve the Rajasthan conundrum, opening up channels of communication with rebel leader Sachin Pilot, without success. Interestingly, the chorus to make her the next party chief seems to have died down.
It has been said before that the Congress party needs to get its act together. Will it, and if so, when?
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.