It is crystal clear now that the party is over for the Congress. Its leadership has failed the people of this country as also its cadres. There seems to be no lessons learnt from the Parliamentary elections and there is no evidence that any will be learnt from the debacle in the two states where Assembly polls were held last week. The sycophants are keen to absolve the Gandhi family leadership and the problem that the party faces now is that who should thus get the blame for the rout in Maharashtra and Haryana. There are insecure people within the party who want to put the blame on the doorstep of Bhupendra Singh Hooda and Prithviraj Chavan, instead of facing the reality.
They seem to forget that there is a difference between Hooda and Chavan. Hooda became the Chief Minister for the first time when the Congress won 67 seats in the 2005 polls and the High Command preferred him to Bhajan Lal, since the Jats for the first time voted largely for the party. He again managed to form the government with 40 seats in 2009 and for the first time reversed the trend in the state of not repeating a government in the past 30 years.
He could have done better even now, but he had to carry the burden of the alleged misdeeds of Robert Vadra, who, in public perception, benefited greatly from the Haryana government and amassed huge assets. Whether this is true or not is something which an independent inquiry can establish, but the Vadra factor contributed to the Congress downfall in the polls.
Other than that, the High Command tried to make it look like a Chief Minister versus the Prime Minister election, but that did not cut ice since Hooda was never projected as the lead campaigner and the party’s posters had 11 other photographs, including those of some who were tainted in the coal scam. Whose idea it was to have so many pictures of nonentities in Haryana is something the High Command alone can answer. There is enough time now for everyone to dissect the truth and analyse it, but naturally it will never be done.
In Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan was foisted as the Chief Minister after Ashok Chavan became a victim of intrigue within his own party, since he was the original Rahul Gandhi nominee and those close to Sonia Gandhi wanted to see him go as early as possible. Chavan was initially a part of the coterie around Sonia Gandhi, but his nomination, as also the selection of Mohan Prakash, general secretary in-charge of the state, did not go down too well with either the rank and file or the elected representatives of the people. Chavan enjoyed a clean image like Manmohan Singh’s at the Centre, and like the former Prime Minister, was never a mass leader. He was bound to fail from day one, due to the slippery nature of Maharashtra politics, given that the Congress ally, the NCP was continuously laying traps for him.
A few months before the polls, the NCP made it clear that Chavan would never be acceptable to the people and the Congress should bring about a change. The name of Sushilkumar Shinde was discussed as a possible successor, though Narayan Rane also threw his hat in the ring. When it was almost certain that Chavan will go, Rahul Gandhi stepped in to save him. He got a reprieve, but the party plunged into a crisis as it became clear that Maharashtra was going to be lost in the elections and Rahul and his team were contributing to this debacle in the same way as Vadra had become a factor in Haryana.
Sonia Gandhi turned a blind eye to the development, with the hope that things would work out somehow or the other. She was unwilling to step in and allowed the matter to drift to the point of no return. In other words, she wilfully ensured that the party lost and did not show any inclination to accept the role of her son and son-in-law in it. She failed to realise that the anger against her and her family has not subsided and if people were not wanting to vote for the Congress, it was on her and her family’s account. No one else could be blamed for it.
In the meantime, an exercise to absolve Rahul has started and he is being projected as a person who has united the two factions in Punjab. The question is that who created these factions in the first place. Signs of revolt are showing and it is a matter of time that the leaders will start speaking against the High Command. Two Chief Ministers have already begun to assert themselves. Many senior leaders are unhappy with the way things are. On the whole, it is an unhappy party. Between us.