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September 2017
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Columns
Congress leaders on a suicidal path
 
K. Gopalakrishnan

That the leadership of the Indian National Congress is no patch on the BJP’s clever and astute leadership is no secret. It is getting exposed badly in many of the actions of omissions and commissions of the past.

It is also unfairly exposed by the Parivar leak group. Unfortunately the oldest party in India is now headed by a group which has neither the understanding of the background of the history and geography of the party nor about its culture and practises.

Not that the party has able and knowledge leaders. But the current leadership is keeping them out from the organisational and parliamentary wing of the party due to the present nomination system and lack of democratic functioning. Even some who are capable still remaining at the leadership level, are hardly given responsibilities.

Two events last week badly exposed the situation in which this No.2 party is placed. In Bihar the party leaders could hardly play any role in saving the Mahagatbandhan which split when charges against Lalu Prasad Yadav and family were exposed.

Not that Lalu and family are persons with great honesty and integrity. Nobody has accused them of upholding moral values and living with lofty ideals till now. The now badly weakened Mahagatbandhan was formed by all, particularly Nitish Kumar of Janata Dal(U).

They had come together not to cleanse Indian politics but to fight against communal cancer in the Indian polity, if their statements are revisited. It is not as if corruption is not a cancer and it is a fact that under UPA it flourished and even the then prime minister once said that corruption was a fact of united front governments! Similarly elastic commitments of Nitish towards communalism and opportunistic political background were also known to all.

It is also clear that both Lalu and Nitish would have given their ears only to Congress leaders. They could have worked out a compromise even at the last minute by asking the two to hammer out with a give and take compromise. Perhaps a solution could have emerged, particularly so as the Mahaghatbhandan even now has potential to perform well at the hustings.

Still worse is the blow for the party in Gujarat. The Gujarat affairs were for long looked after by Ahmed Patel and Rahul Gandhi, whenever he is available free from European holidays. The fact that the Amit Shah’s secret parleys with the Congress MLAs were unknown to these leaders responsible for party’s affairs in the state speaks volumes.

To top it all, a party MLA became a Rajya Sabha candidate of the BJP against Ahmed Patel of the Congress revealing the appalling ignorance of the high command on the situation of the party in Gandhiji’s Gujarat. Such ignorant men then try to confront and discipline state leaders on elections instead of trying to compromise and work out a consensus on issues.

The least the high command can do is to realise that they don’t wield power nor have the popular base to win election. Indira Gandhi could enforce discipline because she had both the advantages. The party members had no other option to win an election. Only when 6 Congress MLAs chose to defect to the BJP, the high command woke up.

Ultimately it had to herd the party MLAs to a safe haven in Karnataka. One is not sure even if such a move can help Ahmed Patel. If senior veterans of the party are not persuaded to step in and make desperate moves to persuade the Congress MLAs may look for opportunities outside. Undoubtedly Amit Shah and Co can provide a better deal today. Gandhian values and secularism are still valid, but how many in the Congress top leadership today sincerely believe in such values and live by it?

The point is that the leadership is inept. After the last assembly elections it lost two states, where it was the single largest party, but failed to stake claim because the high command was in slumber. The leadership is totally Delhi centric and it is not easy to recall when an AICC was held outside Delhi.

Gandhiji was very particular that the AICC should be held in villages and different regions as the message of the party can be spread throughout the country. Such a meet helps in development too as AICC session meant digging of wells, increased production of grains, milk, etc in addition to supply of the materials from outside. It also made many party members living in urban areas to realise the plight of the rural people. Gradually these meetings got held in cities and towns. But there was always an effort to hold it outside Delhi and in different states.

Remember the BJP today holds its annual sessions and even national executives outside Delhi. They move to different states and cities which make people aware of the party policies and familiar with the stand of senior leaders. Not only that, the BJP is slowly inducting senior Congressmen into the party fold and it is has proved an electoral advantage too. Already Gandhiji, Patel, Bose are all adopted by the BJP.

In contrast the Congress has abandoned the Gandhian practises and prefers to own only leaders of the Nehru family. True the Nehru name is magical to Congress members and a leader from the family ensures party unity. But that does not mean the party should have only the Yes men or women of the Nehru family.

Particularly in the changing scenario of today when the challenge from the BJP is formidable. Many in the party feel that Priyanka is far better than Rahul who has poor grasp of the political situation even now and is not serious about his responsibilities.

With the high command confining itself to New Delhi and unwilling to move out to other areas to take up people’s causes and problems, senior leaders too prefer to live in Delhi and are content attending parliament and attending an occasional Working Committee where they speak praising the inept party leaders. Few move out even to their states.

Party machinery hardly moves to organise protests or exposing the economic, social and misuse of authority by the non-Congress state governments. Most of the leaders are old and senile and young blood is not allowed to come up as there are hardly any organisational elections anywhere in India. Above all being in government for so long they do not know the role in the opposition.

The campaign of the BJP leadership to split and weaken the opposition is progressing well. In the process the image of the opposition too is getting blackened. One should not be surprised if the opposition is reduced further in the 2019 election.

The Congress seems to be ignorant of the dangers of the BJP moves and the suicidal course its leaders today are taking. Not that the party can’t revive and restore its pristine glory. But undoubtedly not with its present leaders who can’t even present the party’s policies to the public.


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