The Congress got only 52 Lok Sabha seats, three short of the 55 needed to be eligible for the post of the Leader of Opposition (LoP), which comes with Cabinet status (the Opposition needs one-tenth of the seats to bid for this). With the NCP having just four Lok Sabha seats, there is an attempt to get it to merge with the Congress. This is a move that Sharad Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule may be okay with, but will his nephew Ajit Pawar agree? Another suggestion is to get Bhagwant Mann, the lone AAP MP from Punjab to join the Congress. Mann is not on the best of terms with the AAP leadership and may agree—and on the lighter side, the Captain would get one comic artiste to replace another, his bete noir, Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Captain vs Sidhu
This is an interesting battle being played out on the sidelines of the larger crisis within Congress. However, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has made it clear that he did not approve of his party’s high command propping up Sidhu during the campaign when he had more or less banished him from Punjab. However, when Priyanka Gandhi Vadra came to Gurdaspur and Bhatinda, she was accompanied by Sidhu. Upon landing, Sidhu ignored the Captain and spoke only briefly to Asha Kumari, the Punjab in-charge, when she went up to him. Well, now it seems having delivered a much needed face saver for the Congress in Punjab, the Captain has run out of patience with Sidhu. And it is time the Congress leadership favours grassroots leaders over rootless wonders.
Congress: 2014 vs 2019
What is so different between the 2014 and the 2019 Congress Working Committees? Even then, when the Congress got 44 seats, both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul offered to resign. The reasons the then vice president Rahul Gandhi cited were, there would be no accountability if it did not start from the top. In addition the role of a pliable media, the failure of the Congress to communicate its own achievements and the polarising effect of the RSS were also cited as the other reasons for the loss. At the time, Ajit Jogi and Ghulam Nabi Azad led the chorus and prevailed on the Gandhi duo not to resign and eventually the resignations were taken back. Cut to 2019, but there is a difference (minus of course Jogi from the CWC). This time Rahul Gandhi, who is now the president seems adamant not to take back his resignation. Those who know him claim that very few can make him change his mind once he decides something. Take for instance his decision on when to take over as party president. There was immense pressure on him from the very day of his debut itself, but more so during the UPA days. He refused, telling those who asked, “I choose my own deadlines.” And sure enough it was only when he felt he was ready he said “yes”. And now he is saying “no”.
The Curious case of the Missing Blog
If you ever visit Randeep Surjewala’s office you will probably meet an earnest lad always typing furiously at his laptop. That is Rachit Seth, the media coordinator, but better known for his social media profile. Well. After the loss, Rachit penned a blog that highlighted some of the failures in the Congress campaign (27 May). Called “The Deshdrohi Tag”, it wondered how the perception of a party that was synonymous with Indian nationalism had changed so much that it eventually lost the nationalist tag to its rival. Some of the reasons cited were, Rahul’s visit to JNU, the manifesto promise to dilute AFSPA and sedition laws, and Sam Pitroda’s ill timed comments. Once the blog went viral, Rachit removed it citing “too much traffic”. But the issues he raised are being debated within the Congress, as it looks for scapegoats to pin the loss on. However, if Congress leaders hunt for scapegoats instead of focusing on the organisational failures then perhaps the entire party can take to writing blogs, or a series of books, a la Shashi Tharoor and Jairam Ramesh.