By Sushil Kutty
The “nagging Congress infighting in Karnataka” is glaringly out in the open. And the headlines are making the Congress look like a bunch of children at a candy store. The party is ridden with the suicidal impulses. One view is that the Congress high command should put its foot down, name its Karnataka Chief Minister nominee and start governing the state.
But the factions aren’t taking the bait. The irony is the Gandhi family itself is playing favourites. Rahul Gandhi has thrown his weight behind Siddaramaiah says a headline and the very next minute, there’s another voice insisting that DK Shivakumar is the favourite. The high command, for all purposes, does not have the clout to enforce its own diktat. Latest report on Thursday that finally D. Shivakumar has agreed to the CM’s post to Siddaramaiah is a face saving for the Congress high command, but the five days of ordeal should leave a bitter taste to the Party leadership.
Any suggestion that the high command should show spine is a no-brainer. The last time somebody checked the party’s vertebra was missing the spine. After the Sachin Pilot-Ashok Gehlot tussle, with neither of them willing to heed the high command, Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar reminded only Rajasthan episode.
The Karnataka election results are the first time in nine years that the Congress had good news to convey .. Also a victory which the party can showcase after the longest of time. But for some reason, when the high command should be steadying the boat, it is mindlessly shifting and putting out a pair of gladiators from the same team to fight it out in the public arena.
Both Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi can stop the infighting in the Karnataka Congress with one raised eyebrow. But the two are reveling in the manufactured fractured factionalism. Whatever happens to Rahul Gandhi at such times of strife between congress leaders is inexplicable. For all his clout, Rahul appears lame and hobbling; unfit for the leadership role.
Ditto Sonia Gandhi, who also could do with sitting for a quiz on questions regarding and naming Congress chief ministers. The Congress high command has been sitting on the Sachin Pilot-Ashok Gehlot no-holds barred fight for years and there’s no end to it. One of these days, Pilot will commit hara-kiri and be reborn in the BJP.
That said, for some mysterious reason, both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, have a thing going for aging Congress leaders. In Rajasthan, the preference is the aging Ashok Gehlot, in Karnataka it is the elderly Siddaramaiah. Sachin Pilot and DK Shivakumar are relatively younger but definitely not in the same league as their aging rivals.
The Congress, if it wants to be serious player in 2024, should pull up its socks in solidarity. The Karnataka victory has come at the right proper time. But it is common knowledge that the Congress leadership easily beats itself in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. In addition to being lousy politicians, both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are also lousy gardeners. They should have known when to nip the scourge of factionalism in the bud.
Rahul Gandhi should also know that something like the Bharat Jodo Yatra is a once in a career jamboree; a novelty that is already going, going, gone! The danger is the factionalism in the Karnataka unit of the Congress could resonate in the other states going to polls in 2023. Other states’ Congress unit leaders could take a cue and start infighting.
Don’t forget, the Congress runs another far greater risk. Disunity in the Congress is an invitation to Operation Lotus. Both Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar have financial and economic cases against them and the newly appointed CBI Chief is not a friend by the longest of chances.
A broken and divided entity is the easiest to break. The infighting in the Karnataka state Congress unit can only intensify no matter who finally gets the coveted job. Congress party’s Karnataka dilemma and the infighting will directly impact the Congress party’s showing in other 2023 assembly elections and the 2024 general elections. Factionalism could be the Achilles heels that the Congress will have to fight. (IPA Service)