The dramatic exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia from the Congress and subsequently joining the BJP has once again brought to fore the simmering discontent within the Grand old party. And the battle – lines between the old guard and the new guard.
After losing two successive General Elections in 2014 and 2019, the party it seems is still in denial mode and unable to grasp the ground reality. This has put a huge question mark over the party and some critics even stating that the party is now dangerously staring at a existential crisis.
The recent drubbing in the Delhi assembly polls of 2020 where it failed to open its account for the second time in a row has further exposed the flaws within the party.
Rahul Gandhi, stepping down as party president and his reluctance to lead once again despite many leaders wanting him to has put the party in a quandary. Sonia Gandhi , despite her age and ill- health continues to be at the helm as interim president . And seems unable to control the drift in the party. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s foray into politics has not got the results the party wanted.
The old guard’s of the party the likes of – Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Motival Vora, Anand Sharma, P Chidambaram, A K Antony, Kapil Sibal, , Mallikarjun Kharge , Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh, Bhupinder Hooda refuse to move away and pave the way for the fresh young faces. In an era of 24X7 media, party needs young fresh leaders at the helm who could energise the workers and give the people the option to vote for an alternative. Congress unfortunately is not reading the writing on the wall.
But alas ! The Congress party seems unable to break away from the vice like grip of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Sonia Gandhi held the party president post a long time before handing over to son Rahul Gandhi. Rahul too after a while handed it back to mother Sonia. This musical chair rotation among family in regard to party president’s post will not enthuse the voters to vote for the party. Until this perception changes, Congress faces an uphill task to bounce back . Forget about returning to power.
It is not by any stretch of imagination that Congress does not have young leader’s in it’s fold – Shashi Tharoor, Jairam Ramesh, Salman Khurshid, R P N Singh, Jitin Prasada, Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora, Manish Tewari, Ajay Maken, Randeep Singh Surjewala to name a few . But the question is why they are not allowed to lead the party. All these leader’s have experience in administration unlike Rahul Gandhi. Is this the reason if anyone among them is given the rein the the likes of Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka will feel insecure? . And hence they are not willing to hand over the baton to the young guns.
It is indeed bewildering to find that a three- time Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala is not even a member of the CWC ( Congress Working Committee) the highest decision making body of the party. Tharoor, a former UN Diplomat and an globally acclaimed author has a phenomenal popularity and connects well with the youth with his magnetic charisma. The attributes which makes him a front- runner to lead the party. The suave and articulate , Tharoor, has often in various interviews has fervently asked the Congress to resolve the leadership issue . He has also called for elections to all posts of the party that includes the party president and the CWC. And even going on to the extent of saying that party needs to elect not select a party president. Unfortunately, Tharoor’s constructive advise to revive the party from the current slide and regain voter’s confidence it seems has not gone down well with the old guard or the party hierarchy .
Like Tharoor there are other leaders who voiced their anguish over the party’s decline. Jairam Ramesh in a recent interview suggested that the party needs to ruthlessly reinvent itself otherwise it it faces the prospect of irrelevance . Former Delhi Chief Minister the late Sheila Dikshit’s son and former MP Sandeep Dikshit after the Delhi Polls 2020 debacle said that he is anguished by the party’s inability to find a solution to the leadership issue as they are scared “who will bell the cat”.
When the Congress won the three hindi heart- land states in 2018 ( Rajasthan , Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh) there was optimism that the party would now bounce back . But that unfortunately has not happened. The Euphoria has vanished quickly Kamal Nath Government in Madhya Pradesh ( in brink of collapse ) Rajasthan is holding on despite the cold war between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot . Only Chhattisgarh with Bhupesh Baghel seems to be in order as of now.
More than return to power at the Centre which seems to a long haul the immediate pressing problem of the Congress is to resolve this battle between Old guard vs Young guard.
This raging battle if not handled aptly could sink as well as split the party in the near future. After all how can a Congress leader who stands for an election in Lok Sabha or assembly poll will be able to convince the voter to back him if the party continues go directionless, with no vision and uncertain leadership?
Further, electorally it has to find it’s way to convince voters to vote for them again. Finishing behind the Shiv Sena, NCP in Maharashtra, And playing second fiddle to JMM in Jharkhand and lastly wiped out in Delhi by AAP and BJP are worrying signs for the party.
Hence an urgent course correction, with a young leadership , is the need of the hour for the embattled Congress. To replace Modi government or BJP from the Centre the country needs a strong opposition and a pan India party .ie. Congress to bounce back. For that to happen now they seriously need to look beyond the Gandhi’s and the old guard.
The main difference between the BJP and the Congress is that BJP has adapted quickly to the changing times be it on communication and reaching out to the voters , while the Congress is bit laid- back and happy to play the waiting game. It is time the Congress wakes up to the reality otherwise like the Left could be staring at political irrelevance. And even brace up for Modi 3.0 after current 2.0. So the onus is On the Congress , how they wish to charter their future course in Indian politics.