Rahul-Priyanka solo runs

Anil Anand Collapse of Puduchery government is not of the Congress’ making. The inevitable has happened as it did not come unexpectedly. It is yet another manifestation of the existing political culture which is firmly imbued with “hook or crook” syndrome to grab power in pursuance of Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi’s “Congress mukt” goal. Puduchery a Union Territory (UT) with an assembly was just two months away from the assembly elections when this unsavoury development happened. It would be naive to say that the Congress collapsed only under its own contradictions and inability to keep its flock together. There is no denying the fact that the over a century old party is ridden with internal issues and dissensions but whatever has happened in the UT is not without a planning and carries the perfect imprint of the ruling dispensation’s peculiar brand of politics. The Congress government headed by Mr Velu Narayanasamy had been kept under tenterhooks by the Centre and the ruling BJP for quite some time. And a perfect foil to his efforts to save his government was provided by the former Lt Governor of the UT, the irrepressible cop turned politician, Mrs Kiran Bedi. Two factors blatantly stand out to give credence to the theory that “operation Puduchery” was well planned. Firstly, the first defections of Congress MLAs were ostensibly planned and executed to happen on the eve of former Congress president, Mr Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the UT to kick-start his party’s election campaign. The first temblor came even before he could land in Puduchery and the final blow was dealt by the power those be with another set of defections in the Congress legislator party ranks that forced Mr Narayanasamy to resign despite moving a Confidence Motion in the assembly that had been convened to prove his majority. The other glaring factor strongly indicating that careful planning had gone behind “operation Puduchery” was sudden removal of Mrs Bedi as Lt Governor of the UT. She was replaced by Telengana governor Mrs Tamilisai Soundararajan who has been given additional charge of Puducherry. To recall she was once the Tamil Nadu BJP’s president before becoming governor. It is still not known whether Mrs Bedi was forced to go or had volunteered to be eased out. What becomes apparent that somewhere she did not seem to be fitting in the Centre-BJP scheme of things to implement “operation Puduchery”. Her removal forced or otherwise, is a win-win situation both for her and the central dispensation in the face of her strong image of stickler for rules and a nononsense administrator. Whatever the course for removal of Puducherry government, it does not augur well in the overall scheme of things for the Congress which is currently fighting a protracted battle of not only revival but hard-pressed to counter the internal revolt at the highest levels. It has definitely dealt a psychological blow to the party as it has lost its last imprint (read government) in the southern part of the country which till recently was its stronghold. After the infamous rebellion by a set of senior Congress leaders now popularly known as Group of 23 of G23, in the form of a letter written to the party’s interim president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi demanding across-the-board organisational elections including that of the Congress president, the brother sister duo of Rahul Gandhi and AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, have been trying to keep the party flag fluttering initially more through social media and then lately through enhanced presence on the ground. Ostensibly, an impression has been gathering ground that they are on a solo march, Mr Gandhi across the country and Mrs Vadra in Uttar Pradesh of which she is the in- charge for her party. Even though solo in nature but their efforts have, of late, been able to enthuse the rank and file. It is another matter that the upper echelon of the Congress including the G23 line-up seems to be indifferent to these efforts both in terms of appreciating the Gandhi-Vadra attempts and, or becoming part of the party’s revival plans. The party managers were able to get a breather from those rebelling and demanding organisational elections, till June when the latest round of elections to four states Assam. Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, and the Union Territory of Puduchery will be over. But Puduchery developments should leave the Congress high command further worried as slow pace of movement towards galvanising the organisational set up is giving the party’s arch political rival the BJP further elbow space to hit back where it hurts the most. In Puduchery’s case it has come in the form of Congress being wiped out of South India’s governmental graph. The Congress, in the aftermath of G23 rebellion should have done more than merely buying time to hold organisational elections and in turn quell the rebellion. Yes, efforts by both Rahul and Priyanka are welcome at one level but their mere solo runs are not enough to counter the BJP’s muscular slugfest aimed at removing Congress from the political firmament of the country. Their efforts seem solo as in the entire gamut of Congress activities over the past few months the entire top and second rung of leadership has been found missing on the ground. Neither the solo effort, even if planned to provide the bigger slice of space to the two by keeping others away, nor studied isolation adopted by these sets of leaders are justified under the prevailing testing circumstances. The net outcome has been that the all powerful BJP is further emboldened by these developments in the Congress camp and is merely going around hunting with Puduchery becoming their latest hunting ground. The current set of assembly elections could have been used by the party to mobilise the disgruntled top rung and an indifferent second rung of leadership. By now they should have been assigned bigger responsibilities in the election bound states with a strong tag of accountability not necessarily in terms of winning which is in no one’s hands, but at least ensure that the party put up a united face and perform better. feedbackexcelsior@gmail.com