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Do The Gandhis Want To Finish The Congress?

June 06, 2022 18:24 IST
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It appears that the party has some kind of political death wish, observe Sunil Gatade and Venkatesh Kesari.

IMAGE: Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi, with her son and party MP Rahul Gandhi. Photograph: PTI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi has one more reason to smile ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Candidates selected by the beleaguered Congress for the Rajya Sabha elections show how not to run a party if you want to keep it as a going concern for long.

It appears that Sonia Gandhi -- the longest serving party chief in the grand old party's 130 odd year history -- has been over-ruled by her children Rahul and Priyanka in choosing the party nominees for the elections to the Rajya Sabha.

It appears that the party has some kind of political death wish at a time when the country needs a strong and vibrant Opposition.

The First Family of the Congress has put aside all rules of the political game to bring their loyalists into the Rajya Sabha as if there is no tomorrow.

When a ship starts sinking, the mice are the first to desert it. In the Congress, the key loyalists have seen to it that they reach the Rajya Sabha sooner than later as the party ship is likely to turn into a Titanic.

The spirit of the Udaipur Chintan Shivir was to take the ordinary party worker along so that s/he becomes a spirited fighter in the cause of the Indian National Congress.

But the Rajya Sabha nominations show that the Congress leadership in Delhi did not feel any need to consult party leaders in the states and understand their concerns.

The Congress leadership may say that most of those selected are senior party leaders who have been working hard for the organisation.

But the question from the ordinary worker would be why these leaders always find a safe haven in the Rajya Sabha.

Jairam Ramesh projects himself as a senior leader of the party, but why has he not even once tried to contest a Lok Sabha election to test his popularity?

Congress chief ministers of election-going states or Pradesh Congress Committee chiefs where the party is in the Opposition thought it prudent to fall in line as they know how much trouble the high command can create ahead of the polls.

The state leaders want to be in the driver's seat post the polls so they do not have either the guts or the desire to rub the leadership the wrong way on the Rajya Sabha candidates.

When the chips are down, it is the brave who fight back.

In the Congress, what seems to be happening is that those with the levers of power are using it solely for their personal advantage unmindful of its consequences for the organisation in several states, especially the election-going states.

Party workers have been left high and dry.

At such a time, Sonia and Rahul have been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in the National Herald case.

The faithful are crying conspiracy, but the tragedy is that the ranks of the faithful are depleting. The powers that be have chosen a perfect timing.

The Congress leadership was right to deny renomination to Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, former Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and his erstwhile deputy, respectively.

The deadwood needs to be removed. The earlier it is done, the better.

Azad got the best of both worlds when the party was calling the shots in the polity of the country and when it was down.

A section of the Congress has suspected for quite a while that Azad has built quite a rapport with Modi at the cost of the party.

This suspicion was more than strengthened when Modi appeared visibly moved while bidding Azad farewell in the Rajya Sabha last year.

Strangely, Azad was head of the G-23 group of dissidents then!

What could cost the party dearly is the road rolling of state units in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh while deciding the Congress nominees for the Rajya Sabha election.

Karnataka, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will have an assembly election next year. What was expected of the leadership in such times was to boost the morale of local leaders and tell them by its actions that it cares for them.

The selection of party candidates has resulted in a huge row in these states and the BJP has not failed to take advantage.

Subhash Chandra's sudden candidature in Rajasthan and Kartikeya Sharma's nomination in Haryana has the signature of the BJP, whatever the ruling party at the Centre may be saying officially.

In Maharashtra, the BJP has put up a third candidate.

The name of the game is to marginalise the Congress by whatever means.

Modi and Home Minister Amit Anilchandra Shah know for sure that it will be an open field for them when the Congress crumbles. The regional parties are no threat nationally.

The Congress leadership has walked into the trap willingly and is facing the heat from its opponents and supporters alike.

The worst criticism of the Congress leadership's decision has come from Maharashtra where its Rajya Sabha nominee Imran Pratapgarhi is from from Uttar Pradesh and virtually unknown.

If the Congress leadership wanted to give the ticket to a Muslim leader, there are a number of leaders in Maharashtra from the community.

An ally like the Shiv Sena has been obliquely critical of the choice. Implicit in the Sena's criticism is the warning that the Congress will have to go the extra mile to ensure its candidate's victory notwithstanding the fact that it is part of the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi.

After the assembly elections in five states including Uttar Pradesh, Modi had suggested that the fight for the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 has been won in 2022 with the BJP victory in UP.

It looks like the Congress top brass wants to again make it easy for Modi a third time.

When will the grand old party wake up from its deep slumber?

Sunil Gatade and Venkatesh Kesari are veteran political reporters.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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