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Congress dilemma: Will they or can they fight?

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It’s now been a year since Rahul Gandhi ‘urf’, Pappuji’s resignation as Congress President was meticulously planned, stage managed, then tendered and got accepted. The script was very well enacted to protect the dynasty or parivar by its loyalists and the durbaris clapped. In the long and eventful months since then, supine congressmen (also known as “loyalists” and “pidis”) have done nothing but wait for the ‘Shiv Bhakt Janeydhari Rahul Baba’ to change his mind to be their leader, leading them to possible victory or sure another master drubbing in the 2024 Lok Sabha fight, four years from now.

As many as seven Lok Sabha MPs of the Congress recently urged Rahul Gandhi to take over as the party president at a meeting convened by the interim party chief Sonia Gandhi, bringing to the fore once again the churn in the grand old party over the lingering leadership crisis. Rahul remained silent when party MPs Kodikunnil Suresh, Manickam Tagore, Anto Antony, Gaurav Gogoi, Mohammad Jawed, Abdul Khaleque and Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka urged him to return as the Congress President.

The meeting was attended by 45 MPs but the others did not join the chorus. Sonia Gandhi’s current interim term, which began when Rahul insisted on stepping down after congress repeat debacle in the Lok Sabha elections, ends on August 10. 2020.

If nothing else, what happened with Jyotiraditya Scindia should have woken them up. The exit of the royal Scindia from the Congress party is a momentous event that was foretold. This is a royal kick in the Congress shin. Scindia may not be a mass leader – he isn’t.

He may have only a sub – regional support base which would not even saved his own seat in the parliamentary polls – it didn’t. But his exit packed a punch strong enough to send the Congress government of MP in a total spin. Not only did the party lose one of its prominent young leaders, it also lost the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Another budding leader revolted and had got camped himself in New Delhi to get better recognition in Rajasthan, until good sense prevailed and he came back to congress badly bruised and hurt.

The writing should have really been on the wall in bold letters after the Delhi State elections – where the Congress not only got zero seats, but 63 of its 66 candidates lost their security deposit and the party’s vote share was a miniscule mere 4.26%.

But for the Congress’ so-called High Command, it was business as usual, which is party – speak for doing nothing at all. The spin doctors articulated that they transferred their votes to Aam Aadmi Party such that BJP must not come to power in Delhi.

The satisfaction was that due to their low intensity canvassing, BJP could not win the Delhi government. The recent pandemic showed to the people of Delhi, that they committed a mistake in electing ‘muffler clad coughing self-propagating man’ as their leader and his party did everything to show the ruling central dispensation in poor light but HM Shah saved the lives of Delhi folks.

What Narendra Modi had managed to accomplish is to solidify in the voter’s mind the “TINA factor”. Even those who were disenchanted with the party’s dismal governance record from 2014 to 2019, invoked this: “There is no alternative”, they said.

No objective person can doubt Rahul Gandhi’s earnestness well planned theatrics’, and his essential goodness! But he has never come across as a strong alternative to Modi. In fact message for Baba would have been that youth voted for Modi and no honest review of defeat was taken.

It’s heartening, therefore, that many Congressmen have defied the “loyalist” culture and have called for a new leadership to take over. In a great pushback 23 senior congress leaders have joined hands and have written to the President calling for sweeping changes, ‘from top to bottom’, which in lay man language is, Go, Go and Go.

The tag line, which include high and mighty except Chid and old gang is, Party’s future is at stakes, nation in deep crisis and we have taken upon ourselves to be open and frank? Which translates why we should sink with you! Period.

There are, predictably, some who seek Sonia Gandhi’s continuance as emeritus President, although it’s clear that the party needs a new dynamic leadership. Sonia Gandhi saved the party when it was in dire strait and led in two consecutive election victories, but even the best leaders cannot go on forever.

Perhaps, out of respect for her, they should invent a new title President Emeritus. There’s also talk of Priyanka Gandhi, whose only achievement is that she is the granddaughter of Indiraji and her yes men and henchmen compare that she has similar nose to look at or wears a similar designer spectacles!

The government showed her the right place when it cancelled the palatial government house in the Lutyens Delhi Zone, very near to the IIC. There was no whimper of protest and most of the household goods were shifted to 10, Janpath. Good that our great ‘tonti chor’, will not have any company to boast for time being.

This is downright absurd: It not only gives BJP the opportunity to continue its “dynasty” attack, but it also ignores the sentiment of meritocracy which is now driving young India. Here Priyanka fails miserably: In UP, where she has been in charge, the Congress vote share was 6.3%, even below that of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP), and where the Congress now has just one MP! Scindia’s defection is no doubt unprincipled and self – serving, but it is said that he couldn’t get an “audience” with Rahul for almost a year. A prominent Congressman, supposedly close to the party’s leader, can’t even get to see him!

After the Congress defeat in the 2014 general election, the party has been abandoned by three former chief ministers, six state party presidents, seven former Union ministers and scores of other prominent leaders. Some of these were undoubtedly due to opportunism, but much has to do with the High Command’s apathy and imperiousness.

The recent snub to the Congress by the Maratha supremo and BSP chief on China issue is a grim reminder to the party and mirror has been shown to the leadership. Even in times of the national crisis, politics was being played which could not have gone unnoticed by the general public and people mentioned this in the India Today, National Polls.

It’s time to recognise that there are far better Congressmen outside the Dynasty who could fill the role of the Congress president. There’s Shashi Tharoor, of the Sunanda Pushkar and IPL Kochi fame, who has gone beyond his international experience at the UN to become a highly effective MP from Thiruvananthapuram since the year 2009; Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in the last Lok Sabha and a former minister; Captain Amarinder Singh, the current efficient CM of Punjab, Sachin Pilot, who has shown his mettle in Rajasthan state comeback planning and execution who was rumoured to change his loyalty from Congress to the BJP, but good sense prevailed. Who knows, given the chance, which of them may emerge as the leader?

A precondition for that, though, is a scrupulously fair and well – conducted secret ballot involving all the members of the AICC in which they will vote to elect members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and the Congress president.

It’s quite an anomaly that a political party, which is such a strong advocate for democracy, free speech, freedom of expression doesn’t practice it internally. Already the Behan Bhai Coterie (BBC) is blaming fellow CWC members for being very soft on the government to attack Modi.

Whoever emerges from these elections as the Congress president, in the near future will have to work towards a national agenda which unites similar likeminded opposition parties. The new leader will, therefore, have to be a consensus builder.

But first, let that leader emerge as soon as possible. Otherwise, the Congress will just be a sad distant memory. It appoints new entrant like Hardik Patel, the Patidar quota agitation leader who joined the Congress ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, was appointed the new working president of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) recently.

The appointment comes ahead of by polls to eight assembly seats in Gujarat vacated by MLAs who quit the Congress to join the BJP, just before the Rajya Sabha elections held last month. He wants to rule the Gujarat state with 1/3rd majority in the 2022 Gujarat elections! When you throw peanuts, guess who will come only monkey!

On the other hand BJP has tightened its belt and ensured that their district presidents are young, youthful, energetic and motivated to fight the 2024 battle. The detailing of the party leaders has begun. Every Mandal president will be below 40 years and district president below 50. The political fight is clear. Modiji lead dispensation will win its third term with ease and great finesse and congress will bite the dust with aplomb.

Even the 4 replacements of late Shri Arun Jaitley and Mrs Sushma Swaraj, Shri M. Venkaihji and late Ananth Kumar Hegde in the BJP Parliamentary Board will be fresh faces and much younger and thus the average age of the Nadda’s team will be youthful, articulate and great public speakers. Right from the grooming days in the nursery of young leaders, even though the decision is pre meditated, the stress is on discussions in the internal meetings and encourage and develop speaking skill sets, which becomes an asset of the future and they will never need cheat sheets to write future obituaries in full public view!

Even though central elections are 4 years away and even if Priyanka Gandhi shifts to Lucknow, so the rumour mongers say and tweets every day and their durbari journalists project her and their pet sleeper tweeple her tweets and project her and find some more comparisons between her and her dadi, she will not be able to protect the family bastion seat of her mother in UP and like her worthless brother, her mother might also move to Kerala for a safe seat and make a deal with CPM as they have done before.

They will have to do lot of explaining and answering in the 3 family owned trusts and big industrialists will desist to donate any further which will tilt the balance in the favour of ruling dispensation.

Modiji will equal the record of Pandit Nehru, who won three consecutive elections. Can we, dare we, compare Jawaharlal Nehru and Narendra Modi? Yet, of all the Prime Ministers who succeeded Nehru, only Modi has the chance to match him. Nehru still holds the record of winning three elections in a row and also an unopposed PM after elections.

Modi has won two so far. The next election is not till 2024 and, most likely, he will win a single – party majority yet again. Nehru was prime minister already before the 1952 election. His record of 17 years at the top is unlikely to be equaled by anyone. Not that Modi could not win a fourth election but Modi abides by Sangh Parivar discipline and will retire when he is 75 in 2025. Nehru died six months short of his seventy – fifth. After the 5th August, 2020 stone laying ceremony, he will become much much higher than any of his opponents for many years to come in future. I find many of his bitter critiques in video media and who painted Gujarat red are slowly coming to terms with him.

The ruling party’s daily target doesn’t change: it’s ready, aim and fire at the Gandhi family. Almost every day, amplified by TV news, the Nehru – Gandhis are targeted by one BJP functionary or another. The day could begin with an attack on Jawaharlal Nehru’s failures over China and the 1962 war and end with assaults on Rahul Gandhi’s tweets.

They must show some leadership traits, they seems to have given up, they must  rise and fight and lead or leave way for others to guide and take the fight to streets. If this lethargy continues they are laying a red carpet for Modi to get sworn in and continue as our beloved PM and Rahul will again give a sheepish smile for his few followers and may head to Bangkok!

It’s time for the congress to do atam chintan and churning and call someone other than A K Anthony to write a new report. In my thought process, congress must prepare a new road map to build new head, pcc chiefs and even dcc chiefs, independent election authority for party elections, election of CWC members and a vibrant leadership,

Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Prakash Saxena is a graduate of UBC, Vancouver, Canada. He is an authority on eCommerce, eProcurement, eSign, DSCs and Internet Security. He has been a Technology Bureaucrat and Thought leader in the Government. He has 8 books and few UN assignments. He wrote IT Policies of Colombia and has implemented projects in Jordan, Rwanda, Nepal and Mauritius. Rajiv writes, speaks, mentors on technology issues in Express Computers, ET, National frontier and TV debates. He worked and guided the following divisions: Computer Aided Design (CAD), UP: MP: Maharashtra and Haryana State Coordinator to setup NICNET in their respective Districts of the State, TradeNIC, wherein a CD containing list of 1,00,000 exporters was cut with a search engine and distributed to all Indian Embassies and High Commissions way back in the year 1997 (It was an initiative between NIC and MEA Trade Division headed by Ms. Sujatha Singh, IFS, India’s Ex Foreign Secretary), Law Commission, Ministry of Law & Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Justice, Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), National Jail Project, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Minorities (NCM), National Data Centres (NDC), NIC National Infrastructure, Certifying Authority (CA) to issue Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs), eProcurement, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MPA), Lok Sabha and its Secretariat (LSS) and Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat (RSS) along with their subordinate and attached offices like Directorate of Estate (DoE), Land & Development Office (L&DO), National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), National Capital Regional Planning Board (NCRPB), Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDO), National Building Organisation (NBO), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), BMPTC and many others.

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