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'We can defeat BJP in 2024'

By SHOBHA WARRIER
June 14, 2021 11:43 IST
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'We may be weak now, but the importance of the Congress cannot be denied.'

IMAGE: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi with his mother and interim party President Sonia Gandhi. Photograph: ANI Photo

Last week, Jitin Prasada, a former Union minister of state and Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Prasada's party switch has once again focussed on the state of catatonia which appears to afflict the Congress currently. There is already talk that more defections are expected from the party that finds itself in a serious existential crisis.

Where does the Congress go from here?

"We need to become more meritocratic and we need to empower leaders at all levels," Karti Chidambaram, the Congress MP from Sivaganga, tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier.

 

So many Congress leaders including the G-23 leaders have been talking about the need to have elections from the block level onwards, but it is not happening. Why?

At present, the problem is the pandemic. The covid situation has taken away one-and-a-half years of our time.

It is very difficult to focus on organisational issues right now as we can't have meetings, personal visits, etc. We can't even have an AICC session now.

The ideas mooted by G-23 are all very valid and all these are well meaning suggestions, but we need the environment to implement them.

Because we are focusing on managing covid in various states, we are not able to focus on the organisation.

Having lost Kerala, Puducherry, Assam, and with no presence in Bengal, the Congress has been termed as the biggest loser in the assembly elections

It is not true. You can't say the Congress is the biggest loser.

In Assam, we fell short marginally. In Kerala, the vote percentage is very small.

The fact is, the vote percentage does not translate into seats.

In vote share, we are not that behind on Assam and Kerala.

In Parliament also, the Congress has 19% of the votes, but we do not have 19% of the seats. With 37% of the votes, the BJP gets 60% of the seats.

Bengal is a different story because of a very strong regional leader.

She was a Congress leader once. Doesn't it not show how important it is to have strong regional leaders?

Yes. I agree. Even in Pondicherry, the person who won was a Congressman.

These strong leaders left the Congress and became leaders on their own strength..

Strong leaders leaving the party did not happen only now.

It has been happening all the time. Mamta Bannerjee left in 1996.

Here in Tamil Nadu also, we had left the Congress and started the Tamil Maanila Congress then.

It was an issue with the Congress because we allow leaders with ambition to rise.

Do you think this is the worst phase of the Congress since Independence?

There is no doubt about the fact that these are challenging times.

But the mood of the nation can change quickly. That's why we need to define ourselves better.

Organisationally, we need to become more meritocratic and we need to empower leaders at all levels.

We are still the principal opposition to the BJP.

The Congress is the alternative to the politics of the BJP nationally.

We are the pivot and the fulcrum of a national alliance that can defeat the BJP in 2024.

Organisationally we might be weak now, but the importance of the Congress cannot be denied.

You spoke of 2024. The biggest crisis now is the pandemic and vaccination. The prime minister proclaimed last year that India could vaccinate the entire world, but today we do not have enough vaccine for our people. Where did India go wrong?

The premature declaration of victory by the PM who shunned all advice is the reason for this abysmal failure.

In fact, the government has no vaccine policy.

They have not told us what the manufacturing capacity of India is, whether there was any shortage in our manufacturing capacity, and if there is, how they are going to augment the capacity, how they are going to distribute the vaccine to every citizen.

It is not that India has not vaccinated a vast majority of Indians before; we have vaccinated people in the past too and successfully.

What we see is a management crisis because of lack of preparedness.

Now we see that people are not dying not because of covid but because there is no oxygen.

But this government is run by one person and there is no authority given to anybody else.

When the entire authority is with the prime minister and the PMO, the rest of the ministries which are supposed to plan and implement just wait for the diktat from the PMO.

What you see a complete breakdown of the system, and that is because of the centralisation of power in one person and his personal office.

This is no more a government run by the Cabinet; it is PMO driven.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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