Search
+

    View: Congress morphs back into Rahul-mukt Congress

    Synopsis

    Congress needs to rediscover and reaffirm what it stands for as a party, and work from the ground up to rebuild itself.

    Agencies
    Sonia Gandhi is witness to what happens to a Congress leader who liberates himself from the party’s old guard.
    The Congress Working Committee’s reinstallation of Sonia Gandhi as party president signals an end to the Rahul interregnum and reversion to a more collegiate form of decisionmaking at the top of the party, whether for good or for bad.

    Sonia Gandhi is witness to what happens to a Congress leader who liberates himself from the party’s old guard, denounces them as powerbrokers and relies on a younger set of leaders who conduct politics like managing a company, complete with data analysis and strategies to woo market segment after market segment. She saw Rajiv Gandhi’s whiz kids advise him on matters such as the Shahbano judgment, which placated the mullahs and angered the ordinary Indian, to placate whom the strategists advised opening the gates of the temple at the Babri mosque. She saw a prime minister with two-thirds majority in Parliament being chased, figuratively speaking, down the lanes and bylanes of the country, frenzied mobs crying ‘thief,’ the old guard leaving her husband to fend for himself with the help of his whiz kids, who, while happy to advise their leader on the 21st century, preferred to look for fresh pastures where to whiz, rather than join their leader in flight mode.

    She seems to have failed in passing on this insight to her son. Rahul Gandhi wished to pass on the party presidentship to a nominee, even as he played the moral, end-of-dynasty card, but the Congress working committee has foiled this plan and made his mother the president, albeit an interim one with indefinite tenure. It signals comprehensive rejection of Rahul’s leadership of the party and his attempt to retain control through a proxy.

    The Congress Old Guard floated the proposal that a Dalit leader should be the next Congress president. This would have meant one of them, Mukul Wasnik, Mallikarjun Kharge or Kumari Selja, the favoured names being firm members of the Old Guard, and not a neophyte bright spark picked by Rahul Gandhi, a few of whom recently proved their mettle by walking out of the party, for example Sidhu in Punjab or Alpesh Thakore in Gujarat.

    Two developments stood out in the runup to the CWC meeting. One, Rahul Gandhi tried to intervene in the choice of his own replacement as party president, by announcing the party would consult with PCC leaders, parliamentary party leaders and All India Congress Committee secretaries, before the CWC chooses his replacement. This went against his earlier stand that he would not be involved in the process of choosing the next party president. And, by sheer coincidence, a large number of those people whom he wanted to consult on choice of the next party president, happen to be those appointed by Rahul Gandhi as party president.

    As part of this intervention, it was also suggested that the opinions of those consulted would be recorded by CWC subgroups. As @CLManojET tweeted, which politician who still hopes to make it big in the Congress would like to take a written stand against the wishes of Rahul Gandhi while he still was not formally out of the leadership framework?

    The other significant development was a bunch of Rahul nominees and favourites being exposed as people without core conviction on the values of democracy professed by the Congress or knowledge of its own past, following the government’s move to scrap Article 370 and Congressmen finding themselves caught between the popular mood of people in their electoral constituencies and the official Congress stance.

    As it transpired, the CWC stuck to the party constitution on how the party president would be elected, just the 24 general secretaries of the party and the president voting. Rahul Gandhi’s attempt to retain control via a proxy was defeated, seemingly without rancour: after all, who can object to Mrs Sonia Gandhi as interim president?

    The Congress needs to rediscover and reaffirm what it stands for as a party, and work from the ground up to rebuild itself and shape society around the values of liberal democracy, in order to counter the wave of majoritarianism washing over India.

    For that, the party needs to stay coherent. The old guard did not do a great job of deepening democracy in a society steeped in a tradition of hierarchy and a million sectarian solidarities. But it stands a better chance of correcting course than do bright young things who deigned to dirty their hands with politics, leaving behind lucrative professions around the world, when their parents died in the midst of their highflying political careers, and see politics as power, without a clear notion as to the end to which that power they seek is to be deployed.

    As the caste based parties of North India pass their expiry date, a vacuum is opening up that needs to be filled. Whether the Congress would move in to occupy the space or something else would come up depends on the political imagination of the Congress Old Guard, who have regained the reins of the party, after Rahul Gandhi fumbled his chance at the helm, with Sonia Gandhi agreeing to serve as the figurehead, to preserve a chance for a Gandhi at least somewhere down the line.
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

    Also Read

    18 Comments on this Story

    SUBRAHMANYAM.S.C.V.327 days ago
    The history of Congress HIGHLIGHTS only the RULE by a Family that has only CONTEMPT to the cherished values of this country, with outsiders leading it now and then ONLY TO BE BRUSHED ASIDE subsequently.
    C M Ramakrishnan407 days ago
    A succinct summary of events personae and missed chances by the congress party
    However a major issue you may like to highlight in the future is the advice and antics of the old guard Chidambaram Sibal Shinde Digvijay etc that turned public perception of Congress as an ‘anti Hindu’ party.
    Padmanabhan413 days ago
    It us just another gimmick to fool the people. Congrass failed miserably to read the people. Todays India’s majority voters are emancipated educated younger generation. The submissive conservative policy of congress from Nehrus time onwards let India slip further and further from the influential position it should have had including getting the UN permanent security council member position which only Nehru’s lack of self confidence was the only reason we lost and the people of India realized it now. They also realized that congress’s leadership incompetence was the only reason Kashmir was alienated including the article 370 and 35a and POK not negotiated even when in 1971 we could have got away with anything in return for giving back Pakustani soldier POWs and the conquered land up to Lahore. Just because of congress nation missed such huge opportunities and let a thorny issue burning from across the border. The current BAjP dispensation showed what good leadership could have done for India. Now there is no looking back. Whether Sonia or any other, there is no leader in congrass who could command respect of the young population of India. That is gone to Amith Shah and Modi combine.. Congrass will have to soon dissolve as a party as even younger and clean leaders like Rajesh Pilot , Syndhya and likes are already frustrated with the outdated political stand of the party. Even the open stand of leaders against party stand on article 370 is a good example. Congrass now is a group of leaders with selfish interest willing to stab the nation at the back speaking the language of enemies of the country like Imran Khan. So stop day dreaming. Those who care for political relevance must leave the party and find greener pastures. That is what is happening and will continue till next general election by when it will be a party of hand full of leaders only.. no followers!!!
    The Economic Times