Why nobody wants to lead the Congress?

Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi has told Ashok Gehlot, the Congress Chief Minister of Rajasthan, to be the next Congress President.

Sonia Gandhi is unwell; Rahul has declined to be the Congress president saying that he was accepting his failure to win for his party in two consecutive parliamentary elections.  Priyanka Vadra is too inexperienced to hold the truant flock of Congressites together.

Is this the end of dynastic rule that has been vehemently opposed by the BJP-led government? Yes and NO, both. Yes because at least till the 2024 general elections are over and the status of Congress is known, Rahul Gandhi has to cool his heels. If Congress can regain its foothold in Indian politics, Rahul Gandhi will have a convincing claim to ask for the President’s position in the party.  But if Congress repeats its dismal performance, the end of dynastic rule in Congress is certain.

Why Sonia Gandhi chose Ashok Gehlot needs to be understood. Sonia Gandhi is strictly following the policy of Congress dynastic stalwarts of controlling by proxy. Pratibha Patil and Manmohan Singh are two glaring examples. Ashok Gehlot will be joining them soon. Knowing that Ashok Gehlot is a man of straw, Rahul Gandhi will have no problem replacing him in case the parliamentary election of 2024 throws him up. Even if that does not happen, still Rahul Gandhi as General Secretary will be all the more powerful and make Manmohan Singh of Ashok Gehlot.

The acquiescent and unquestioning Ghelot has responded to Sonia’s call by saying that he is not worth the distinguished position and that there is a consensus among Congressites that Rahul Gandhi should be crowned as President of the party.

The question is that the dynastic rule had come to a pass where power and authority got concentrated in Sonia Gandhi and her son. The stand taken by the G-22 was a clarion call for the Congress High Command to read the writing on the wall. When Sonia Gandhi failed to show the subtle qualities of diplomatic skill, the seniors among the G-22 gradually began looking the other way. But some opportunists among them tried to hunt with the hound and run with the hare. They even tried to meddle in their Congress formations in their respective states. Azad is an example. But these silent or active rabble rouse failed in their designs just because they had no standing of their own in their so-called constituencies. They were walking the podium with Congress crutches.

The big fuss in the Congress was the outcome of a well-conceived but ill-executed mega reform in the party in which Rahul tried to induct the youth into the organization from the ground zero level to the highest rungs. He did not take the seniors into confidence, nor consulted them on the important aspects of the scheme and the modus operandi. They felt sidelined, disrespected and neglected. The Congress Working Committee that continued to function even after showing out the seniors and stalwarts was described in the paper by Observer Research Foundation: “A large number of CWC members unprincipled, opportunists and self-serving individuals for whom self-interest is paramount.” 

Torn by internal dissensions, taken in by a coterie of sycophants, blinded by lust for power and disillusioned by meaningless slogans like “India is Indira and Indira is India”, the Congress High Command gradually became a prisoner of its illusions. The High Command trio did not understand that it was distancing not only from the senior and experienced bunch of leaders but from the masses of the people as well.  This could be discerned from Rahul Gandhi losing from Amethi and finding a narrow escape in the Muslim-dominated constituency in Kerala. The real task of Congress shifted from the progress and development of the country to a raging battle of up-man-ship at its top echelon level. Considering India the private property of dynastic entities, the so-called Congress High Command lost the vision of its founding fathers and great thinkers, patriots and parliamentarians. Gradually but it began with a downward graph. Those who stuck to the High Command like leech were mostly sycophants or opportunists.

Congress miserably failed to understand the message that Modi’s first term (2014-2019) sent across the length and breadth of India. On the day when Modi assumed charge in 2014, the Washington Post wrote that for the first time India had chosen a national government after her independence. The Indian leadership and bureaucracy that inherited the British legacy of divide and rule did irreparable harm to the Indian nation. The majority population was disillusioned by the policies of the Congress government that challenged the millennia-old ethos of Indian cultural and social structure. Marxist-Leninist brand of socialism would not make a deep impression on the Hindu mind that had born the worst type of persecution during the past five or six centuries of foreign rule.

Nehru contributed to the creation of a wedge between the Hindu way of life deeply steeped in tradition but open to modernization at the same time and those influenced by the Marxist ideology without taking into consideration the quintessential social order of ancient India running into modern times.

The Indian nation has rejected Congress in two general elections and has opted for India-centric liberal nationalism. The Indian cake has Hindu icing like it or not. Against it, Congress’ secularism is vicious and blatantly communal.

Sonia Gandhi is quitting the post owing to her deteriorating health. But nominating Ashok Gehlot as her successor in no way solves the woes with which Congress is beset. Nominating the successor or manipulating his election is a clear signal that she has tried to keep the way clear for her son if it so happens. We don’t think that will drag Congress out of woods. It will be the subversion of democratically elected leadership. The Congress stalwarts (if left any of them in the party) will fiercely oppose the strategy. Congress will continue to run along the suicidal path. That is no guarantee for the rejuvenation of the party.

Sonia Gandhi will be leaving for a medical check-up. Rahul and Priyanka both will be accompanying her.  Some observers call it the prelude to the ultimate departure of the High Command from its post. How will the headless party manage its affairs is a moot point. Give the assurance that the High Command chapter has been closed; the lower rungs of the party do have the capability of reviving the strength and influence of Congress in due course of time. For the High Command, this is the decisive moment. If it can shun the lust for power, Congress will survive; otherwise the prophetic words of PM Modi viz. “Congress mukt Bharat” will come true.

Prof. K.N. Pandita
Prof. K.N. Pandita
Prof. K.N. Pandita is the former Director of the Centre for Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir. Prof. Pandita was awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India for his contribution in the field of literature and education.

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