The Congress high command continues to be oblivious of the ground realities and refuses to see the writing on the wall which spells an extremely dismal future for the organisation. The Assembly results have once again given a clear indication that the Congress was losing its relevance and from a party with a truly national footprint it once was, it now governs merely 6% of the country’s total population.
What is both tragic and unfortunate is that the leadership is perpetually introspecting without taking any action, something which former minister and erudite MP Shashi Tharoor had in mind following the declaration of results when he stated, “Now is the time for structural action and not introspection.” Senior leader Digvijaya Singh too wondered why the leadership had deferred the follow up on the reports stipulating the road ahead of the party submitted by him and his AICC colleagues early last year. It was up to both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul to take steps to rejuvenate the party and build up the leadership in various states, he added in an interview to a leading daily.
While the two leaders were publicly vocal in obliquely criticising the top leadership for its inertia, many others have been privately admitting that Sonia Gandhi was unwilling to accept responsibility and was equally reluctant to allow the blame to be shifted to Rahul. The question that arises is that if Sonia Gandhi as the party president cannot provide the solution then obviously she is the problem herself. In that case, she should make way for Rahul or anyone else to take over the reins and bring in the requisite changes that Tharoor is talking about, so that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The alarming dimension of what is going on in the grand old party is something which everyone else except its leadership can vividly discern. The sycophants who form a part of Sonia Gandhi’s coterie have convinced her that there is no challenge to her leadership and therefore whatever she does would be obeyed without any question in the party. The fact of the matter is that ever since the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, a silent revolt has been taking place against her as well as her desire to promote Rahul. A number of Congress leaders switched their loyalty to the BJP and contested the polls on its ticket nationally. Former UP Chief Minister Jagdambika Pal, former AICC general secretary Birendra Singh and former minister Rao Inderjit Singh were among them.
In Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand during the Assembly elections, several prominent state level leaders jumped on to the BJP wagon. Recently in Uttarakhand, nine Congress rebels including former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna have opted for the saffron brigade. In Assam, where the Congress lost power after 15 years on Thursday, Himanta Biswa Sarma, the party’s chief strategist and chief ministerial aspirant helped the BJP to carve out its historic victory. Perhaps the leadership would have done well to ascertain the reasons for Sarma’s exit and how he was persuaded to leave the organisation by three key aides of the Congress chief. In Tamil Nadu, a large section headed by G.K. Vasan broke away to determine its own future. Earlier in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, Jaganmohan Reddy, son of the late Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy had walked out of the party to protest the manner of its functioning. In West Bengal, the decision of the high command to have a tie up with the CPI(M) did not percolate to the grassroots and the workers declined to help the Left candidates anywhere. If this is not rebellion, then what is it?
Nobody expects the sycophants or the members of the coterie to revolt as they are mostly rootless and are dependent on Sonia Gandhi for their survival. They are not leaders who have acquired political stature in the field but have got to elevated positions due to their proximity to the leadership. However, if any of them gets a chance, he or she would also desert the current leadership for greener pastures. The late P.A. Sangma, at one time, was considered close to Sonia Gandhi but did not hesitate in joining Sharad Pawar, Tariq Anwar and others who questioned her foreign origins in the Congress Working Committee way back in the late 1990s and subsequently faced expulsion. The current party leadership must look at history to know why the Congress loses elections. The party has never lost to its opponents nationally, but has been vanquished by those it had nurtured, who instead decided to follow a different drummer. In 1977, Babu Jagjivan Ram, H.N. Bahuguna and others formed the Congress for Democracy, thus weakening Indira Gandhi at a crucial juncture. In 1989, V.P. Singh, Arun Nehru and Arif Mohammad Khan founded the Jan Morcha, which contributed to the Congress’ defeat under Rajiv Gandhi. In 1996, Arjun Singh, N.D. Tewari and M.L. Fotedar plotted Narasimha Rao’s downfall. In 2014, Congress workers, distraught over their continued alienation by the leadership, decided to stay home instead of taking on the BJP.
The Congress high command must realise that the danger is now also from within. Subsequent polls would demonstrate that. As US Black Panther leader, Leroy Eldridge Cleaver had stated in the 1960s, “If you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem.” This appears to be apt for the Congress. Between us.