The idea of a margdarshak mandal in the Congress, as suggested by party general secretary Digvijaya Singh, is a non starter as senior party leaders feel that this will destroy the party’s age-old structure and lead to loss of confidence. In the Congress tradition of shielding the Gandhis, leaders also said that Rahul Gandhi should not be blamed for the poll failure as it was his advisors who limit his interaction with state units, which leads to the isolated functioning of Pradesh Congress Committees.
“We will never endorse the idea of a margdarshak mandal. We should stick to our traditions. We have a rich legacy which is ingrained in the country’s politics. We need to revamp the party’s rank and file, not the structure of the party. That will be disastrous. We are not a party that aims to be like the BJP,” a party general secretary, who is also part of the Congress Working Committee, told The Sunday Guardian.
The Congress leader claimed that ever since Rahul Gandhi has taken operational control of the Congress from Sonia Gandhi, “state units have been functioning in isolation”. “His advisors keep him away from interacting with the state units. Even senior party members have to go through his aides. Whatever interaction he has with them or the state units is in a limited capacity and hence he has not been able to work out local issues in the states,” he claimed.
Another senior leader who is a former Union Cabinet minister said, “When Sonia Gandhi led from the front, supporters, party workers, voters and opposition parties, everyone knew that she was in full control of the party, from the AICC headquarters in New Delhi to the smallest block level units in the states. The party was viewed as a cohesive unit with an engine driving it with a clear vision and control. This element is lacking in Rahul’s leadership skills.”
“He has failed to project the party as a cohesive unit, though he has tried with dedication. Success in the states and at the Centre will come when the voter witnesses a strong connection from top to bottom. Voters want to see a strong leadership, particularly at the Centre. A captain weakened by his own people can never lead an able crew. We have to introspect on those lines as well,” he said.
After another poor showing in the polls, calls for Priyanka Vadra’s entry into active politics were heard, with Congress workers and a large majority of party members batting for Rahul’s sibling to take charge at 24 Akbar Road.
“This seems to have become a regular practice. She has always been seen as an heir to Indira Gandhi. Every party member and citizen who has ever voted for us has shown support for her. The decision to enter active politics should be left to her. As of now, we don’t see that happening,” the Congress leader said.
Sources also highlighted that defections and rebellions in state units along with visible infighting have contributed to the party’s loss.
“There has been infighting. State Congress units in Assam, Karnataka and Kerala saw fallouts internally as well as with Delhi. Similar incidents can be cited in states such as Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, etc.,” he added.
The Congress has been restricted to power in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Puducherry.