By Arun Srivastava
After former chief of Mumbai Pradesh Congress Committee Sanjay Nirupam, it was ex chief of Haryana PCC Ashok Tanwar who levelled serious charges against the party leadership. Both the leaders, at two separate places, one in Mumbai and other in Haryana, ventilated the same feeling; “Senior leaders close to Sonia Gandhi have evolved a conspiracy to eliminate leaders groomed by Rahul Gandhi.” They also alleged; “Congress is going through an existential crisis, not because of its political opponents but because of serious internal contradictions”.
Deserting the party after the worst electoral drubbing has the common trait of the Congressman. But their rebellion is quite different. They have raised some fundamental issues. Congress has lost relevance and has little hope of survival, ironically the party satraps continue to treat it as their fiefdom. Even at the stage when the party is facing the prospect of complete decimations, these leaders are busy preserving their petty interest.
In this process even the authority of Rahul Gandhi, the party chief, does not matter for them. After Rahul was made the general secretary, he launched the scheme to refurbish the party and to accomplish his mission he inducted younger leaders in key position. This pitted the older leaders against the new breed leaders. This was for the second time in the history of Congress that such an attempt was made; the first being Indira Gandhi’s move to fight out “Syndicate” and promote socialist oriented leaders.
She succeeded but Rahul could not make much impact as he was fighting against the tide. With BJP striving to project itself as the liberal and centrist political force, Congress was plagued by feudal attitudes and medieval conspiracies. It is an open secret that this had an adverse impact on the functioning of Rahul and he could not anchor himself. The so called senior leaders did not follow him. It cannot be denied that a planned move was made to tarnish image and project him as politically naïve leader incapable to lead.
It is worth recalling his statement that he made after resigning as the chief of the party. Rahul Gandhi is acknowledged as the political scion of India’s most powerful ruling dynasty but the manner of its functioning ratifies the belief that he does not have any control on the party. The fact of the matter is he was forced not by BJP, but by his own party men, to relinquish.
He said “I was fighting against BJP alone. I did not receive any positive help from the leaders of the party”. Some may interpret this as his lack of charisma to lead the party or manifestation of foolish aspiration to lead the country. But it is not the fact. Ever since Rahul took the office, the BJP and especially Narendra Modi ran a vicious campaign against him. He used all kind of jibes against him. But unfortunately baring a couple of Congress leaders, almost all remained passive spectator. While Rahul was fighting for the survival of the party, these leaders were busy in protecting their self-interest.
Gandhi accepted responsibility for his party’s electoral failure; “As president of the Congress party I am responsible for the loss of the 2019 election.” Gandhi used his parting statement to unravel the existing scene. He observed: “We didn’t fight a political party in the 2019 election. Rather, we fought the entire machinery of the Indian state, every institution which was marshalled against the opposition. It is now crystal clear that our once cherished institutional neutrality no longer exists in India.”
Some months ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Modi’s popularity was losing shine. But Congress leaders did not exploit it. It is worth taking note that Congress has improved its performance in 2019. It could win just 44 of 543 seats in 2014 but it did marginally better with 52 seats in 2019. Significantly on both the occasions Rahul led the party. The party rose by 6 percentage points during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in comparison to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and 8.5 percentage point in comparison to the 2014 Assembly elections.
Both the leaders who have been with Congress for nearly 20 years said “numerous controversies are being hatched to eliminate those young leaders who have been groomed by Rahul Gandhi”. Those who worked against the party’s interests in the last five years have been given prominence over those who slogged to strengthen the Congress. These leaders did not chalk out electoral strategy conforming to the needs of their respective states. They continued to harp on the old socialist tactics of social engineering.
“The ticket for Sohna Assembly seat was sold for Rs 5 crore. We will fix the situation,” alleged Tanwar and questioned how the Congress candidates will claim victory in polls if ticket distribution has been unjust. What is indeed shocking is the Congress leaders instead taking an objective insight into the crisis has been busy smearing the image of the rebel leaders. Accountability is critical for the future growth of the party but it is absolutely lacking. Plagued by ideological schisms and weakened by defections and arrests, the grand old party has hit a dead end. (IPA Service)