New Delhi: Is the Congress giving a raw deal to legal luminaries, farmers and academics who are associated with the Grand Old Party? If one goes by the record of postings and positions in the Congress, the answer is in affirmative.
There is a sharp dearth of lawyers, farmers and academics in “Team Rahul” which comprises leaders who are mostly from political or business families. There, of course, are some leaders in the Congress, who may have degrees in law, but the professionally established legal luminaries are being sidelined. There are undeniably some lawyers in Congress, but their utility is limited to fighting cases in the courts. Sometimes, they are given Rajya Sabha seats in return, but their role gets limited to that only. They are given relatively less importance in the party organisation. What is lamentable is that there is no important leader who is actually from the farming background. Similarly, Congress does not have a significant leader from the teaching community. This is in sharp contrast to the history of the party where its stalwarts such as Motilal Nehru and Dr Rajendra Prasad were legal luminaries as well as academics of extraordinary level. With a powerful and real leader from the farming community missing, the Congress’ protests on the road against farm bills are clearly devoid of much-needed effectiveness. Barring Congress-ruled states, the party’s protests are not creating the desired impact in other states.
Earlier, there were some leaders in the Congress who used to claim to be farmers. Now their sons’ claim to hail from farmers’ families, but in reality, they have nothing to do with agriculture and cultivation. There are departments and cells for the lawyers and farmers in the Congress, but those who are holding some position in these departments are not given much importance in the party organisation and they are not given prime positions.
There is the All India Kisan Congress for farmers and The Legal Human Rights and RTI Department for the lawyers in the party. The top and prominent posts in Kisan Congress remain vacant for most of the time. Shamsher Singh Surjewala was president of the All India Kisan Congress for a long time in the last phase of his political career. He was a lawyer for a long time and had been in politics in Haryana for a considerable amount of time. After this, he got this post. After him, Maharashtra politician Nana Patole, who left BJP and joined Congress, was given the responsibility of the Kisan Congress. But he is now Speaker in the Maharashtra Assembly. The Congress, as evidently clear, never attached importance to this department.
Likewise, responsibility of The Legal Human Rights and RTI Department was given to senior Supreme Court lawyer and legal luminary Vivek Tankha. But his responsibility is restricted within that limit only. In the team of Sonia Gandhi previously, there were Janardan Dwivedi and C.P. Joshi, who were academics. But the new faces who have been brought in the new team are mostly from political or business families. Senior leaders P. Chidambaram and Salman Khurshid, both lawyers, have been accommodated in the CWC. Both have been holding different positions in the Congress. But they were not given important roles like Arun Jaitley and Bhupendra Yadav in BJP. The popular legal luminaries of the Congress, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal’s roles are limited to party briefings as spokespersons, while their experience can give party a lot of benefit if used properly.
Another lawyer Manish Tewari is struggling to get a post in the party. Senior Supreme Court advocate K.T.S. Tulsi has been brought to Rajya Sabha, but his role is limited to fighting cases for the party. In other words, the role of lawyers in the party organisation has been curtailed to an unsatisfactory level. What is also disappointing is that new faces are not coming forward. Take academics for example. There are several teachers in universities who are associated with Congress ideology. They don’t show a hitch in openly supporting Congress in their institutions. But only a select few individuals are able to meet the high command, let alone the chance to get any organisational post.
There are some leaders in Team Rahul who claim to have farmers’ background. But, they are not farmers by any yardstick. They did not emerge out of any farmers’ movement. They became leaders because of their fathers who held key posts in the Congress. When Rahul Gandhi had launched a protest against the land acquisition bill in 2014, he got support from young farmer leaders in UP as well as some other states. But the moment agitation ended, Rahul Gandhi neither met them nor were they ever allowed to meet him. Some of those leaders were given importance in the BJP when they joined the party.