Sorry state of Congress Party

By Kushal Jeena. Dated: 2/1/2021 12:33:59 AM

The main opposition Congress party is currently is in a sorry state and utterly confused over the issue of selecting a suitable leader who could match prime minister Narendra Modi and rejuvenate the party to bolster its electoral prospects in upcoming assembly elections in five states later this year.
The mistrust of present leadership was evident in the recently held meeting of the Congress Working Committee, apex decision making body of the party where some of the senior most party leaders came down heavily on the leadership and demanded that the party should immediately hold organizational elections including that of the president. The rebels had on an earlier occasion also written a letter to the party president Sonia Gandhi in the aftermath of electoral drubbings in the Bihar assembly elections demanding a full-time and visible party president who would be available to party workers and leaders. In fact the idea behind this was finding a leader from outside the Gandhi family.
India’s grand old party has landed into a serious leadership crisis since Rahul Gandhi put in his papers owning moral responsibility for the party’s humiliating electorate defeat in the previous general election as well as state elections. Even after persuasions Rahul refused to budge and Sonia Gandhi was once again brought in as interim president as she expressed her deteriorating health as reason for not accepting the high office of the president.
The rebel group continued to mount pressure on Sonia Gandhi to pave way for an elected president of the party because they are convinced that under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership Congress cannot beat BJP under Modi’s ‘charismatic’ leadership. Initially, their attempt proved futile as the family received overwhelming support from the party workers from all over the country. However after Congress failed to retain its previous tally in Bihar even after it was allotted seats more than its strength in the state.
However, in the meeting of the CWC held on Friday the rebels received a shot in the arm when Sonia Gandhi succumbing to their pressure agreed to hold organizational elections including of the president in June this year
“We lost all the by-elections in Gujarat. Even in the Lok Sabha elections we had not won a single seat there,” Sibal said and added that three candidates in Gujarat lost their deposits. “So the writing is on the wall,” said Kapil Sibal, a senior party leader and former union minister
Sibal was one of 23 senior leaders who had shot off a letter to the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in August this year, calling for “sweeping changes” and a democratic overhaul of the party to counter the BJP’s dominance. The letter, which referred to “steady decline of the party” and called for “collective leadership”, was perceived to be an affront to Sonia Gandhi’s authority over organisational matters.
The crucial meeting of the party top decision making body witnessed some heating arguments from both sides when chief minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot and Ambika Soni argued that the need of the hour to prepare the party to counter the BJP that is pushing the country in the dark adding the internal elections should not be the priority and can be held after ensuing states elections.
However, the rebel group led by Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma countered pro family group arguing that the party leaders have been functioning as nominated not elected and an early elections of the party organization would not only enthuse fresh blood in the party but also democratize it
The last elections to CWC were held in Triupati and Kolkata in 1993 and 1997 under the presidentship of PV Narsimha Rao and Sitaram Kesari. Anand Sharma complained that he was being targeted by Rajasthan CM but Ambika Soni reminded him no names had been motioned. KC Venugopal, general secretary, organisation later told the media. "As per our Constitution, little clarity is required for whether the elections for Congress president and working committee can be held together or working committee election should be held after the Congress president election,". If things go smoothly and on the expected line the party will have a new elected president by June 2021.
Since its defeat in the previous Lok Sabha polls, the Congress party has been passing through a war of attrition in the leadership as Rahul Gandhi, the then party president was determined to push through the young generation in the party leadership both at national and state levels.
He continued to nominate young leaders of his choice in all the key bodies of the party. When the process for selecting chief ministers for the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan came up Rahul nominated Jypotiraditya Scindia as party’s organization head in Madhya Pradesh ostensibly projecting him as next chief minister of the state in case party comes to power and it did and Kamal Nath with the support of senior party leaders forced Rahul to accept Nath as chief minister not Scindia and that led Scindia to switch over BJP along with his supporter legislators. As a result, the Nath government fell down.
Similar drama was enacted in Rajasthan where veteran party leader and two time chief minister Ashok Gehlot got himself nominated as chief minister after threatening to walk away with his supporter MLAs leaving state party head Sachin Pilot sulking. However, a shrewd and experienced politician Gehlot saved his government after Pilot attempted a failed coup as he ran short of legislators required to topple Gehlot government. In this case the family managed to persuade Pilot to remain in the party.
The Congress party that could be described as India’s only political party that has a pan-India presence, today is in a confused state and groping in the dark to find out way to restore its past glory. However, the fact remain that ahead is a tough road for the party to move on and a democratic process is one of the solutions that could prepare the party and workers to fight and win the electoral battles that it will be facing in the years to come before final battle against BJP in general and prime minister Narandra Modi in particular.



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