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Congress dependence on family will not help revival

Saturday, June 08, 2019
By Prakash Bal Joshi

The Congress after second great debacle in 2019 is still in the process of deciding how to handle it and create confidence and feeling of security among cadre and leaders of the party.

The central leadership of the party says that the process of analysing the results and its causes is still on and once the work is done, then party will initiate corrective measures. With all ifs and buts, the main issue seems to be over dependence on the Gandhi family and its effect on the decision making process in the party on all the major issues for its survival as well as resurrection.

The final word on what happens to Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his resignation offered due to stunning defeat has yet to be written. Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi who led UPA I and UPA II governments for a decade has taken over as the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party. In her she has sent adequate hints that the party high command, means the family is not thinking of asking Rahul to resign from the party post by taking entire blame for the defeat. This also signifies continuation of dynasty in the party without even giving any semblance of allowing others to occupy the top positions within the party or available power posts.

Cong should accepted RaGa’s resignation
With the continuation of situation where Rahul is set to continue and Sonia takes over Parliamentary post, there is no scope for free and fair discussion on what should be done to revive the party in the face of almost rout from many states. Whether this is cause for the continued desertions by party leaders at the state levels or the stunning defeat and emergence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the most stable and steady party at the national level is yet to be assessed. But the process may continue for some time, unless and until the party bosses instil  confidence in cadre of the party who are used to the family dominance over the decades. They expect the charismatic leader like Indira or Rajiv to resolve their dispute and help them get elected to the state assemblies or the parliament so that they can continue to rule their small fiefdoms in their respective regions.

The party should have accepted the resignation with grace even without the post, Rahul would have remained the power of centre while new incumbent to the party post would have carried out all the organisational work giving enough space for Rahul to retrospect and develop his own abilities to help the party win back the lost glory , if not fully at least  partially so that cadre hope for better days ahead. Instead , the party seniors from Sheila Dixit to Sushilkumar Shinde have been repeating the same chant of not accepting the resignation of Rahul.

The entire power structure within the Congress Party is used to rule by one family for so many decades that the democratic process is almost dead. What continues is the façade of elections where constituents authorise the party president to take a final call and decide posts and positions in the best interest of the party. As a result the psych fancy has taken a deep roots which will take its own course in changed atmosphere.  

The question being discussed who are concerned with the democracy in the country and expect a strong opposition for survival of the system is whether the Congress can survive without over dependence on the Nehru-Gandhi family legacy ? Will regional parties or some of them can rise to the occasion and occupy the opposition space in view of dismal showing by the Congress. These are questions which will take time to be answered as there are so many variables and unanswered questions.

How many times the Congress Party has split or some splintered groups parted companies. Many times. There does not appear to be such possibility as there is absence of grass roots leaders who have pan Indian appeal and charisma enough to take on the family and the BJP together and offer some alternative to the Congress minded workers and sympathisers. Many in the Congress believe that only Nehru Gandhi family can hold the party together as competing regional leaders fight and splinter.  In the absence of Rajiv Gandhi , Narsimha Rao led the minority government but the party declined in its strength. He was replaced by Sitaram Kesari as a temporary arrangement and later removed by Sonia Gandhi with the help of family confidants. She turned out to be longest serving Congress President till Rahul Gandhi took over reins from her.

There are few within the party who believe that Rahul should have taken over reins much earlier , should have been part of Manmohan Sing cabinet to get administrative experience like Indira was made a cabinet minister and later became undisputed leader of the party.

But palace politics kept Rahul away from the party post and even during the just held elections , some uncanny leaders even succeeded forcing him to accept certain decisions which were not initially approved by him. To her credit , Sonia helped the party stage a comeback after Vajpayee rule by perfecting coalition power politics. However, the steady decline of the Congress continued during the decade finally ending into just marginal representation in the Parliament in 2014. The rot had begun much before she took over , but her strategy of taking support from regional parties saw the party gain power for two terms while the spheres of influence of the Congress continued to decline further and further after every election.

Soft Hindutva didn’t work for Cong
The BJP has been using Rahul to attack dynastic nature of power politics by the Congress and made him a symbol of all the ills in the party. Due to hesitancy on the part of the party, Rahul could not take reins of the organisation much earlier and failed to make any dent. Though few expected Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to make some magic in Uttar Pradesh, her association with Vadra alleged accused in financial cases failed to impress voters and the allegation of family dominance was further stick to the party.

Apart from the ills of the dynastic rule, the party also suffers from identity crisis and confusion on the ideological grounds. When Rahul adopted soft Hindutva in Gujarat, it failed to click people at large and the way party identified his Brahmanical roots by describing him as  Janeudhari actually boomeranged. The party needs to take stock of the situation and adjust its ideological compass by taking into consideration changed aspirations and vision of people of the country. The new generation which is more open and thinking may not understand and accept the ideological terminology used by the party over the decades.  

 It is surprising that the regional leaders like Sharad Pawar , Jagan Reddy , Mamata Banerjee survived after leaving the Congress Party and perhaps as a result of desertions by regional straps , the party strength kept on declining. Its time , the Congress learn from these regional straps , regain its strength by supporting young and dynamic regional leaders who still have faith in the Congress and not go after regional straps who have become spent force.

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