Search
+

    View: Congress should sack Pilot, back Gehlot and promote grass-roots leaders rather than parachute artistes

    Synopsis

    If the likes of Pilot and Scindia had any conviction about what they professed to want to do with power, they would not have been willing to sabotage Congress govts and enable their replacement with BJP govts. Their willingness to do business with the BJP means their avowed commitments are hollow and their only real concern is power for the sake of power.

    Agencies
    The Congress has publicly appealed to Pilot to come back to the party. It should, instead, sack him. That would send the right signal to other leaders parachuted into position by Rahul Gandhi, such as Hardik Patel in Gujarat.
    Realpolitik has been foiled by real politics in Rajasthan, as chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who clearly enjoys majority support among the state’s Congress legislators, outmanoeuvres his challenger Sachin Pilot and those meowing jubilantly behind this willing cat’s paw.

    All is fair in love and war, they say. And politics often looks like war by other means. So, why should anyone be the least surprised at Pilot’s singleminded pursuit of his ambition? Because politics is not just the scramble for power but also involves an idea about what is to be achieved using power. It was the vision of building an inclusive democracy that guided most leaders of the freedom movement and the initial leadership of Independent India. It is the very different vision of making India a Hindu nation that drives the BJP and the incumbent leadership of the country.

    If the likes of Pilot and Scindia had any conviction about what they professed to want to do with power, they would not have been willing to sabotage Congress governments and enable their replacement with BJP governments. Their willingness to do business with the BJP means their avowed commitments are hollow and their only real concern is power for the sake of power. Such people deserve, at best, admiration for their efficacy, of the kind reserved for a newfangled machine like, say, a 3D printer, or a race-winning horse, not the respect that people have for political leaders who stay committed to their cause and to serving the people.

    The fault is not really with these leaders. The fault is with the party that parachutes these people into leadership positions, above the heads of people who have been working for the party for decades. Their chief qualification is their lineage.

    If Congressmen are honest, they would admit that their serial mistakes with outsiders parachuted into leadership positions began with Rajiv Gandhi, who was dragged into politics by his mother after the death of Sanjay Gandhi. He became Congress general secretary and later, after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Prime Minister. He was a nice guy, naïve and only too happy to outsource politics to the likes of Arun Nehru and VP Singh as he reigned as prime minister. Politics has no love lost for the nicest of nice guys and while he did many useful things, such as laying the foundations for India’s information technology industry and mass access to telephony, he also dug the ground from under the Congress’ feet, with his twin blunders over Shah Bano and the Ayodhya temple.

    Narasimha Rao it was, who presided over the demise of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, but the grave had been dug by Rajiv Gandhi, whose contempt for the people led him to believe he could manipulate Muslim sentiments by placating the Muslim clergy via denying divorced Muslim women the right to maintenance and that he could manipulate Hindu sentiment by opening the gates to the shrine at Ayodhya. As he reigned, his minister of state for defence nearly started a war with Pakistan and his finance minister, VP Singh, plotted his leader’s ouster and his own climb to power. Rajiv Gandhi trusted not the party’s veterans, whom he dubbed powerbrokers, but his own chums whom he had drafted into politics. So, when the Bofors campaign gathered steam, he was left to fend for himself, as the powerbrokers watched from the sidelines.

    It is to Rajiv Gandhi’s credit, however, that he did not drown in the bitterness that resulted, but matured fast. He might have steered a different course for the party, had he not been assassinated in 1991.

    Sonia Gandhi was another individual parachuted into leadership. She did better than her husband as party leader because she had the humility to understand that she was not qualified to lead and allowed veteran Congressmen to run the party’s affairs. Her mistake was to treat the post of the prime minister of India as a placeholder — till her own son gained the experience and acceptance needed to move into that slot. Dr Manmohan Singh is an erudite gentleman but no leader: as a blundering politician, he sent three cabinet ministers to receive Baba Ramdev as he came to Delhi to take part in the India Against Corruption campaign, and made him into a larger than life crusader. When the National Skill Development Corporation trained and placed one million people in new jobs, Dr Singh did not hold a press conference each in every state to publicise this achievement, but shuffled files between the Corporation and the Prime Minister’s Office. To see how a politician communicates politically all the time, see Narendra Modi take credit for everything that works in India.

    Shashi Tharoor is another parachute artiste. But he is extraordinarily talented and works hard at his new job, speaking Malayalam, meeting his constituents assiduously and putting his position as Member of Parliament to good use. He also has the good sense to not try and displace local Congress leaders.

    Rahul Gandhi gets entangled in his parachute’s harness and cables. He would have liked to impose his friends such as Scindia and Pilot as chief ministers of the states where they got elected to the legislature, but had to bow to the wishes of the local party unit in each state. Some commentators have suggested that youthful Sachin was denied his well-deserved elevation to the chief minister’s post by Gehlot’s manipulation of the central leadership in Delhi. Had Delhi mattered and not Rajasthan and the wishes of newly elected MLAs, Sachin Pilot would have been chief minister. Knowing this, say those in the know, Gehlot got some people elected who were outside the Congress but would support only him as chief minister. He has the support of not only the vast majority of Congressmen in the state but also of a chunk of independent MLAs, besides. His government would appear to be safe, for the time being.

    The Congress has publicly appealed to Pilot to come back to the party. It should, instead, sack him. That would send the right signal to other leaders parachuted into position by Rahul Gandhi, such as Hardik Patel in Gujarat.

    The Congress should understand that it is not the divide between the young and the old that holds the party back. Rather, it is the absence of democratic politics on the ground, such as organising the migrant workers or backing the Covid-afflicted in their search of treatment and relief, that holds them back. Carry out mass politics, and leaders would emerge from them, to replace today’s seniors.

    Politics is not done hovering 20,000 feet above mean sea level, looking to see where the young cubs of lions that once straddled their domains could be dropped, swaddled, of course, in parachutes. It is done at the ground level, among the people, whose support will throw up leaders, who would grow in their jobs and replace Gehlot, Kamal Nath and Ahmed Patel— eventually.
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

    57 Comments on this Story

    Suresh Panje20 days ago
    Aptly this article has defined the psyche of all those Netas and Netranis whose sole focus is power for the sake of power by eclipsing the very essence and prime objective of service to the people. Further the author has linked such an instant and momentary popularity to that of a gadget like the 3-D printer or the well-bred and trained horse at the race course. This malady runs and thrives in the veins and brains of a majority of all the politicians, irrespective of the party colours.
    Thus the one track-minded leader like Sachin Pilot with no plans to serve the people or strengthen the organisation other than seeking power and pelf deserve to be sent into the oblivion.
    As for the Congress party’s ills, the main cause is the deep-rooted sycophancy towards a single family is the main cause. The seeds were sown by the clan of DK Barooah, SS Ray, Shuklas of MP, Nandini Sathpaty, Bansilal among others to please Mrs. Indira Gandhi though by the dint of her own charisma, she never needed such false adulation. This sycophancy, over the years, has resulted in a pyramid with hardly any base to rest upon.
    Suresh Panje20 days ago
    I am utterly surprised and taken aback to learn that this guy identified as NoBs knows how to read!!!
    Pavan Joshi20 days ago
    The writer of this article seems to be an idiot for one simple reason - you deny young and hardworking their rightful place and it'll have Congress finished.
    Had it not been for young guys like Pilot & Scindia, Congress would have barely won it states they won.
    Unlike BJP, Congress was never so ideologically heavy for it to have it's seniors placated.
    The Economic Times