Dissent brews in MP and Rajasthan Congress as Rahul’s resignation move splits party wide open
Yes, Rahul Gandhi has indeed decided to take the Lok Sabha debacle on his chin as senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor put it. And though some had speculated that his resignation could have been stage-managed to get the dynast’s over-reaching courtiers to plead for continuity, the Congress chief has decided to deconstruct feudal rituals himself and is adamant about stepping down. Without disowning his roots, he wants to begin as an ordinary worker and start over for what he is, even in small measure and not with the glorious descendant’s burden. One that gave him the vanity of a throne without real powers, hemmed in as he was by empowered brokers of the old structure. But then being chaperoned is what the party leadership has made its DNA. So he is ready to do what many observers have said, make a radical break. He would rather earn the tag of a politician who tried rather than be the undeserving scion who reduced the party’s worth to zero. If that means initiating an auto-destruct sequence, he would do so to reset codes and go back to factory settings. Naturally, more than anybody else, the really distressed lot is the Congress nobility, the coterie which the older party leadership has fattened and ego-sized and whose sense of entitlement has further cost the party. Years of being eyes and ears as advisors, they have overgrown their critical mass and have carved their mini fiefs at the expense of the party, mimicking its first family formula. In pursuing their pocket boroughs and their own kin, they are not interested in maintaining the overall health of the Congress that needs a new injection of ideas in a changed India and not old-style welfarism. If the party did well, they benefitted as they did in the Assembly elections that didn’t test the party’s overall machinery. If it didn’t nationally, there was always the family to take the hit. Not to absolve Rahul’s predecessors for creating their own anti-matter, but the Gandhi tag, like it or not, has worked as much as an adhesive as well as a punching bag while the internecine leaders flourished famously. All they needed to do was assure the leadership that all was well. Rahul tried to change this but the sludge layer was too thick.
So the rumblings in the CWC, where Rahul’s sister Priyanka apparently led the charge that seniors did not cooperate with her brother enough or the dissent in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Congress units, which basically handed the Lok Sabha verdict, are not new. Particularly the young Sachin Pilot, who staked his all to revive the party for five years, felt slighted when handed just a deputy chief ministership. In MP, Jyotiraditya Scindia felt left out too. This passive revolt of the younger, doer brigade that Rahul hoped could still make electoral sense to an aspirational India were made to believe that while they had pyrrhic victories, the old guard — the likes of Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot — understood the heartland sentiment better and commanded the organisation. But they did nothing. Offering to resign with collective responsibility is more an escape routine than owning up to responsibility. The Congress has starved itself willingly, allowing organisers like Mamata Banerjee, Jaganmohan Reddy and Himanta Biswa Sarma to drift away. So it would be wrong to say there is a talent deficit for the top spot if Rahul vacates. Besides, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv and Sonia have gained from field tours politically while ceding CWC presidentship to the seasoned. Therefore, the real question is if Rahul is following a family template only to stage a comeback of legacy or passing on the trusteeship to worthy challengers without expecting anything in return? The question also is if his departure could split the party as it has in history, with its coterie finding new hosts?
Courtesy: The Pioneer