The inept handling of the Punjab crisis by the Congress party has once again proved that years in the opposition since 2014 has been a bitter one to accept. The party moreover is yet to learn anything from the mistakes after losing – Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and just about managing to hold on power in the Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. This brings forward a pertinent question – if the party is unable to hold on the government’s where they have been voted to power how can they hope to replace the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government in 2024?
The grand old party has seen high profile exits – Jyotiraditya Scindia ( BJP) Sushmita Dev ( Trinamool Congress) Jitin Prasada ( BJP) Himanta Biswa Sarma (BJP Chief Minister Assam) , Priyanka Chaturvedi ( Siv Sena , Rajya Sabha MP) to name a few . And the likes of Sachin Pilot, Milind deora are reportedly unhappy. Yet the party refuses the read the writing on the wall.
The G- 23 leaders which has senior leaders Like Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma to name a few have repeatedly voiced their anguish on the party’s slide and the urgent need to strengthen it take on the ruthless aggressive BJP. But their constructive suggestions to revive the flagging fortunes of the party are seen as dissent. The hooliganism outside Kapil Sibal’s residence was indeed uncalled for .
The Punjab imbroglio and the exit of Capt Amarinder Singh has exposed the Gandhi’s like never before. For the first time , leaders within the Congress have begun to question them. Capt Amarinder Singh fired the first shot calling them inexperienced and misguided by advisers. The so called party high command is just for name sake . It is in- fact the trio of – interim president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The voices of other leaders simply do not matter.
Former external affairs Minister Natwar Singh in his upfront blunt attack on the Congress , blamed the Gandhi’s for the mess in which the party finds itself in. Natwar was recently quoted as saying that there is nobody in Congress, including Rahul Gandhi, who can challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
When asked if Rahul Gandhi can challenge the Prime Minister, Singh told ANI, “Do you think so? Will he be able to stand up before PM Modi? Hold a debate between PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi. You saw Gandhi’s interview with a tv channel. PM Modi is an orator. He is fearless and bold. He (Rahul Gandhi) can do nothing against him (PM Modi). There is nobody in the Congress who can challenge Modi and take him on because he is a great orator.”
In a scathing attack on Rahul Gandhi, Natwar goes on to say the Gandhi scion is squarely to be blamed for the declining phase of the party. “Three people are responsible for the current crisis in the Congress party. One of them is Rahul Gandhi, who doesn’t even hold any post, and he is calling the shots,” Singh said.
Natwar is in a sense spot on . Congress is without a president since Rahul Gandhi stepped down after the 2019 Lok Sabha Polls drubbing. The party returned to mother Sonia Gandhi as interim president . And time and again refused to hold organisational polls including that of president and rejig the CWC.
Moreover, it must be noted that it is not only Rahu Gandhi without any position calling the shots, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is no different. She is neither and MLA nor an MP – neither Lok Sabha , Rajya Sabha but by having the Gandhi surname is now the party General Secretary, Uttar Pradesh East. And that’s not all has the audacity to pull up senior leaders of the party . No wonder young leaders like Jitin Prasada ( former Congress leader and son son of late former UPCC chief late Jitendra Prasada switched over to the BJP and now is cabinet minister in The Yogi Adityanath government)
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took a dig at the Congress saying BJP would not have to do anything to defeat the “sinking” Congress as long as Rahul Gandhi is there.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference vice- president Omar Abdullah expressed his view over the crisis hit Congress party when he in tweet wrote, Ordinarily I wouldn’t give a toss about the fratricide in the Congress party – their party, their business. However what the Congress does has a direct fallout for every political party outside the NDA orbit because almost 200 Lok Sabha seats see a direct BJP – Cong fight.
In another tweet he he wrote, I guess it’s too much to expect the Congress to take the fight to the BJP when its state leaders are too busy fighting amongst themselves.
Clearly the floundering Congress and self destruct mode by Gandhi’s have put the grand old party on the brink of political oblivion . And no wonder amidst the faltering Congress one can see the likes of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP seeking to expand their bases outside their states. TMC has already declared its intention in Tripura, Goa and even Meghalaya ( former CM Mukul Sangma say reports could join the party). AAP is keen to make in- roads in Punjab, Uttarakhand , Uttar Pradesh.
The onus now on the Congress – more importantly the the Gandhi’s to know that time is running away fast. BJP was in opposition for ten years 2004 – 2014 and they had two seasoned and now late stalwarts as opposition leaders – Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj to expose the faults of Dr Manmohan Singh Government . Unfortunately the two Congress leaders in Lok Sabha – Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Mallikarjun Kharge ( Rajya Sabha) are no match to the aggressive traits of Jaitley and Sushma . In Lok Sabha, the likes of Shashi Tharoor or Manish Tewari could have done wonders. But Gandhi’s are wary of giving powers to others.
Right now Congress is suffering from a perception problem. It is unclear what it wants to do ahead. Gandhi’s are not willing to move away and letting the party adrift. Thus giving BJP lots to smile about. It needs a young leadership who can sway the public to its ideology . BJP it may recall despite the presence of stalwarts – Late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani needed the likes of Arun Jaitley to change the perception of the people towards the party. Jaitley was was young, articulate, handsome and being a seasoned lawyer successfully managed to convince the middle- class , the elite or the Lutyen’s Delhi residents to look at the BJP .
Congress needs a similar leader who can turn it around. Best selling author , former UN diplomat the charismatic Dr Shashi Tharoor , a three time- Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, has global appeal and enjoys phenomenal popularity among youth, could well be the party’s ideal choice to woo the elite middle- class . But then a party which is so much obsessed and not keen to look beyond the Gandhi’s then one can do nothing. But lament what a waste of talent ! . The results of the six state polls next year 2022 – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat will clearly indicate which way Congress is heading. It could too well decide which way the verdict of 2024 swing too . So watch this space !