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'Time for Congress to become a tiger on the prowl'

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
Last updated on: August 19, 2020 11:28 IST
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'If the Congress wants to take on the BJP it cannot do it in this fuddy-duddy, grand old party, style.'

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

Sanjay Jha -- former national spokesperson of the Indian National Congress -- is making more news since being suspended from the party than before disciplinary action was taken against him.

His latest tweet on Monday, that 100 Congress members have written to interim party President Sonia Gandhi seeking a change in the leadership and a transparent election, concluding with 'watch this space', caused a sensation in the grand old party at a time when the issue of Facebook links with the Bharatiya Janata Party was the talk of town.

"The Congress has to bring in a new approach of perform or perish. This should apply to the Congress president and all other people who hold posts in the party. Either you perform or perish, simple," Sanjay Jha tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com, in the concluding segment of a two-part interview.

 

Rahul Gandhi's actions do not prove that he wants to give up power. Many say the current trouble in the Congress is a fight between the old guard and new and that Rahul Gandhi continues to act like the de facto Congress chief.

I feel the time has come for the Congress party to exercise the highest level of political accountability.

In the 2014 elections you cannot blame him entirely (for failure) though he was the face of the party's campaign.

There were allegations, but the entire government and political leaders did not handle the situation well and it was a collective fault. The fact is that the Congress was reduced to 44 seats.

A recent poll by India Today says Sonia Gandhi was not successful as the interim Congress president. Do you think Indian voters are done with the Gandhi family?

Let me put it this way. The Congress party got 44 seats in 2014 and in 2019 they got 52 seats. The buck has to stop somewhere. Someone should come out and say it is about time to bring dramatic and drastic change and give new people command.

We need to empower state leaders with more power and this is what happens all over the world be it in politics, sports or corporate world.

Barcelona was defeated in the Champions League and the coach has been sacked.

In politics there has to be a culture of accountability that the Congress has to bring on its own. You do not need someone to say that.

The Congress has to bring in a new approach of perform or perish. This should apply to the Congress president and all other people who hold posts in the party. Either you perform or perish, simple.

If the Congress wants to take on the BJP it cannot do it in this fuddy-duddy, grand old party, style. It has to now become like a tiger on a prowl, it cannot be a slumbering lazy elephant that has had a good meal and wants to snooze till the next day.

You are not answering that one question: Do you feel Indian voters are done with the Gandhi family?

I will answer that categorically.

The grand myth that the great Indian National Congress, which has had in its history presidents like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Sarojini Naidu, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Mrs Indira Gandhi, to believe that this Congress party cannot survive without an individual or a group of individuals is a grand myth.

It is an exaggeration and an internal party propaganda that has got no legs.

I would say the only way you can test it is that you give new faces an opportunity.

Lastly, do you feel you are making more news outside the Congress party rather than when you were a regular Congress party member?

I was sacked as national spokesperson of the Indian National Congress.

I was forced to resign as president of the All India Professional Congress, Maharashtra.

I was suspended as a Congress member, but I am still fighting for the Congress party because I am ideologically wedded to what Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru did prior to the freedom struggle and pursued for a long time what is called as Nehruvian consensus.

I believe that until a truly secular and liberal democratic Congress party rises with this progressive, inclusive thinking, the BJP will remain unchallenged.

I don't think of my personal power or position as that was never there in my agenda or in my wish list.

I continue to fight for the Congress party which is why a lot of the Congress party within can't handle me because I speak the truth.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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