By K.S. Tomar
The sooner Rahul Gandhi realizes the need for using the creative energy of his party cadres to evolve an effective crisis management strategy, the better to save further embarrassment and desertions.
Or else, the serious dissensions in election-bound states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat will make things much worse for the Congress. Especially worrisome from the party’s perspective as poor showing in the assembly elections would further weaken its claims of leadership of the opposition space in the 2024 Lok Sabha general elections.
A thorough overhaul of the party setup is mandatory to send the right signal to the leaders and cadres of the party at the state and central level.
Acting president Sonia Gandhi must appoint a regular president, who can infuse new energy in party cadres to take on the BJP. It is the right time as the BJP is struggling hard for a makeover of its image that has taken a beating.
Congress lost Rahul’s close aide Jitin Prasada, a Brahmin leader from Uttar Pradesh, to the BJP and may lose Sachin Pilot, Navjot Singh Sidhu. Many others like Milind Deora, Sandeep Dikshit, Manish Tewari, Madhu Yaski Goud, Deepender Hooda and RPN Singh are said to be far from satisfied with the state of affairs. Pilot was retained with promises, none of whom have been fulfilled so far, and operation topple Ashok Gehlot could happen anytime. Punjab too seems messy for the Congress at this point in time.
Absence of a single-point crisis management team, and a strategy, is responsible for the exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was boxed in by former MP Kamal Nath and Digivjay Singh.
Scindia and Jitin headed for the BJP as some elders in the party describe it as embedded philosophy of corporate culture and sense entitlement as they are paratroopers and never had to struggle their way upwards from lower echelons of the Congress. The party should avoid its habit of ‘ruling by proxy from center’ as even the BJP has realized that it cannot depend on popularity of Narendra Modi alone for winning elections, as seen in West Bengal and earlier northern states like Punjab, Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh.
In Punjab, the situation is critical. If Chief Minister Capt. Amrinder Singh is ill-treated by the Congress high command, then it would play into the hands of the opposition. In Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is seen ignoring the dictates of BJP high command, which is evident from his refusal to accommodate PM’s confidant, Arvind Kumar Sharma, ex Gujarat cadre bureaucrat, as deputy CM.
Congress was deemed to be an umbrella organization in the 1970s and accommodated all shades of leaders and workers. The Modi-Shah combine toppled Congress governments with the help of defectors and even appointed turncoat Himanta Biswa Samra as chief minister of Assam. But their experiment nosedived in West Bengal where 34 defectors opted to desert Mamta Banerjee, 14 got BJP tickets and only five of them won which was done at the cost of original senior leaders of the party.
Some RSS leaders believe that borrowed elements may be helpful in the
short run but may cost the party dear in the long run as original
leaders and workers are bound to feel demoralized, thereby losing aggression and commitment.
(Tomar is senior columnist and political analyst)