By Sushil Kutty
It starts with “Dear Congresspersons…” and doesn’t stop till the last vestiges of the Congress party’s confidence in the Gandhi family haven’t been ridden to the ground, the Gandhis painted in mud colours. Who were the people behind this exercise is still not apparent to the eye, but what’s being spoken isn’t in the usual sweet tones used for the Gandhi family.
To pinpoint names would be an exercise in futility; speculation, actually. But that they are there cannot be denied. There are an awful lot of Congress leaders who have more or less dropped out of sight, but whose viewpoint partially matches that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi—that the Congress should divest “dynasty” to rejuvenate.
The Congress leaders of the G-23—the Ghulam Nabi Azads, and the Anand Sharmas—wanted Shashi Tharoor appointed Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha; also the Gandhis to take an Italian sabbatical. Instead, Rahul Gandhi chose Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and quite often disappeared in Roman holidays!
In fact, Rahul Gandhi cuts a tragic figure. Chances are he usually never gets to know what’s happening behind his back. Perhaps, he never gets told that mischief is afoot. There is talk that he has a powerful temper, waiting for the slightest of provocation, and is manifestly arrogant.
That said, Congress leaders against the Gandhi family do not have the confidence to quit—cut and run. Also the guts to challenge the “Gandhi hegemony”. Last of all, none have the charisma that members of the Nehru-Gandhi family are born with, and routinely flaunt.
Most of them know that without one of the Gandhis at the helm, the Congress will go to the dogs—punishment for barking up the wrong tree! But there are “outsiders”, influencers, who also want the Gandhis’ reign to end. For them, Rahul Gandhi is out of his depth, and of no use to party, or the patriot.
So, on the eve of the June 10 Rajya Sabha elections, word went out to “Dear Congressman”, men and women, “who toil in the trenches”, “in Chhattisgarh, in Maharashtra, in Madhya Pradesh, in Rajasthan, and in Haryana”, to “demonstrate the force of democracy to a dynasty steeped in self-entitlement.”
The Congress legislators were urged to “Cast your vote for any non-Congress or independent candidate” in the Rajya Sabha elections. And, “if conscience does not permit, abstain.” The call went out that “the time is now”. Clearly, their disenchantment with Rahul Gandhi transcended their loyalty to the Congress.
And it didn’t matter if Narendra Modi’s “sectarian government” got the benefit, the message had to go out to the rank and file; that, believe it or not, the “family” was past its expiry date. And while benefiting Modi was a risk, the ouster of the Gandhis was a must.
At stake 24 Akbar Road, the Congress headquarters. For good or for bad, the Gandhi family controls the Congress, and has control of all that the Congress controls. Power hasn’t slipped out of the Gandhi family hands for decades.
But those against the family can’t wait anymore. Just beneath the calm, there’s a low-intensity “civil war” going on, with the loyalists and challengers arrayed against each other, behind statements and counter-statements. The question is, what’s the guarantee the call to “sabotage” does not travel to Gujarat, and Himachal Pradesh?
The anti-Gandhis in the Congress are upping the ante. These are people who know time is running out for them, their life-ambitions still intact, unattained. They argue that failure to “remove the Gandhi obstacle” would entrench Modi in power.
The reasoning is that the Congress is urgently in need of rejuvenation. But the Congress can only be rejuvenated only if the Gandhi family is un-rejuvenated—and that there is no “greater threat” to Narendra Modi than a “rejuvenated Congress.”
Of course, at the head of that rejuvenated Congress would be a non-Gandhi. Possibly, then the G-23 will self-disintegrate. The likes of Kapil Sibal, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Veerappa Moily, and Anand Sharma, aren’t going to leave the 137-year-old Congress to anybody but themselves. In matters of political savvy and political acumen, the fledgling Gandhis are no match to them.
Perhaps, the feeling that “Congress kisi-ki Baap Ki Nahi Hai” has stung deep these Congress leaders who are working from the shadows to oust the Gandhis. The ones fronting for them are journalists with knowledge of the undercurrents. Some of these “scribes” are popping out from behind their desktops, writing opinions rich in anti-Gandhi.
These media big-shots are themselves bogged down because of the Modi hegemony. For them, too, only a rejuvenated Congress will rejuvenate their sagging self-esteems. They, too, are convinced the Gandhis have to go, not unduly bothered that the Congress will sink without the Gandhi charisma at work! (IPA Service)