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For India's Sake, Gandhis Must GO!

March 11, 2022 11:24 IST
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'There are too many competent people better suited and poised to take on Modi. The Gandhis are not among them,' argues Harishchandra.

IMAGE: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and his sister party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra seen during their visit to the Sant Ravidas temple at Seer Govardhanpur in Varanasi to pay obeisance to Guru Ravidas on his 645th birth anniversary, February 16, 2022.Photograph: ANI Photo

The results of the elections in five states clearly show how much of a distance there is between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, which fancies itself as the main Opposition party to the BJP in India.

The BJP has retained Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa (albeit with some outside support), and Manipur (where it has won a majority on its own, the first such victory in north east India). In Punjab, where the Congress was in power, the Aam Aadmi Party won a thumping majority.

Under Narendra Modi and assorted state leaders, the BJP retained all four states where it was in power, with a reduced or increased majority. Under the Gandhis, the Congress lost the sole state it was seeking to hold onto. And worse, it lost to a new party, AAP, which didn't even exist in the last century.

The Grand Old Party of India is clearly the Sick Old Party of India. Just as the BJP win reinforces the fact that millions of India continue to repose faith in Modi and the BJP, it reiterates the notion that Indians no longer trust the Congress, and even less so, the Gandhis.

The defeat in Punjab can solely be blamed on the ridiculous machinations of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi and their inability to control the maverick Navjot Singh Sidhu.

But there is another, bigger, issue here.

Not only are Rahul and Priyanka unable to lead, let alone win, they are unwilling to let any other leader grow. This is borne out by the treatment meted out to Amarinder Singh who felt sufficiently peeved to resign first as Punjab chief minister, then from the Congress itself.

Amarinder Singh is no fool. He knew that his newly formed party had no chance of winning: All he wanted to do was ensure the defeat of the Congress and Sidhu. He managed both, in spades.

The truth is the Congress had no business losing Punjab, Less than six months ago, under then chief minister Amarinder Singh, the Congress still had a fighting chance. Sure, the much-touted anti-incumbency factor was worrisome.

In fact, the same factor had the BJP worried, or at least anxious, in all the other states that went to the elections. Yet, what voters have shown is that more than anti-incumbency, they loathe indecisiveness and instability.

Reading the voters's concerns and addressing them is the job of the politician. The BJP has repeatedly shown that it is reading the voters right; the Congress is constantly misreading the voters or is so consumed by its internal fears that it doesn't give a damn. And it is these internal issues, especially the lack of leadership, that should worry us all.

The Amarinder-Navjot Singh Sidhu-Channi Singh saga shows the intense insecurity of the Gandhis. Amarinder Singh was doing a fine job, and there is no denying that had he been allowed to continue, he would have given a stiffer fight to AAP and to the BJP. But if that were to happen, Amarinder would emerge as a bigger leader, a threat to the central leadership of the Gandhis.

It would appear that Sidhu was allowed to target Amarinder only because the Gandhis fear a popular leader within the Congress far more than they fear Modi or Yogi or even a Mamata or Kejriwal.

Narendra Modi's lasting legacy is to show that the road to Lok Kalyan Marg -- where the prime minister of Indian lives currently -- lies through the state capitals. This is in stark contrast to a few decades ago when central ministers stood a better chance of becoming the PM.

Remember the famous tussle between P V Narasimha Rao (a former central minister) and Sharad Pawar (then Maharashtra CM) in June 1991? Rao bested Pawar to become PM, creating the notion that it was virtually impossible to become PM without a stint in Delhi first.

Today, thanks to Modi, every chief minister who has won a second term is a potential prime minister. Including Congress chief ministers, Gandhis or no Gandhis.

The Punjab episode also has a Dalit angle. For too long has the Congress leadership propped up Dalit/tribal leaders as standby arrangements, only to dump them after winning the elections. For instance, in Maharashtra, Sushil Kumar Shinde was brought in to replace Vilasrao Deshmukh in early 2003, but after the elections in late 2004, Shinde was dumped and Deshmukh sworn in as CM again.

It was against this injustice where Dalit votes were sought but non-Dalit leaders imposed that Bahujan Samaj Party founder Kanshi Ram raised a powerful slogan: 'Vote hamara, raj tumhara, nahi chalega, nahi chalega.'

When the Gandhis hesitated in naming Channi as the CM if the Congress won the election, it gave a strong signal about how it is still unable to treat Dalits as equals, not just in Punjab but also in Uttar Pradesh.

Nearly 75 years after Independence, does the Congress think that Dalits are going to let others control their destiny?

IMAGE: Rahul and Priyanka on their way to offer prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, March 4, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

The power and prestige that Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra enjoy is from their legacy and from the current leadership of the Congress party. It is why Manmohan Singh always had to look over his shoulder, something that sickened India so much that it chose a leader like Narendra Modi precisely because he is seen as not bowing even to the RSS (or only nominally acknowledging them).

In the Congress, one is only allowed to rise to the level of the Gandhis's competence before being ousted. The problem is at that level of competency, you simply cannot defeat the BJP. The Gandhis need to give up leadership of the Congress party, and any pretensions they may have of becoming the next prime minister.

There are too many competent people better suited and poised to take on Modi. The Gandhis are not among them.

For the sake of India, the Gandhis must go.

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