Should Gandhis make way for others?

Anil Anand

An indecisive Congress becomes decisive in Rajasthan but only after the storm has hit and damage caused. The storm came in the form of Mr Sachin Pilot declaring war on the very party where not to long back he was seen as a prospective candidate for Congress president’s post along with now BJP leader, Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Once Mr Pilot struck the party quickly removed him as the deputy chief minister and was divested of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress chief’s post to prevent further damage. He was defanged by removing four of his supporters from Ashok Gehlot cabinet. This is unheard of in Congress to take decisions with such alacrity.
Mr Scindia followed by Mr Pilot revolting against Congress despite their close relations with the Gandhi family, both enjoyed former president, Mr Rahul Gandhi’s close proximity, has raised questions afresh about the efficacy of the Gandhi clan, at the helm of affairs. Ever since Mrs Sonia Gandhi became interim president of the party, she has become more status quoist than ever before with her growing tendency either to sleep over the issue in the fond hope that the storm would blow over or shirk from taking bold decisions.
This approach is amply borne out by two glaring examples. Firstly, the issue of selecting/appointing/ electing new party president has been hanging fire for nearly two years and secondly even under her own stewardship the much awaited organisational reshuffle is nowhere in sight. Such a situation has now raised serious questions both within and outside the party on whether the Gandhi family has lost moral right to continue in the driver’s seat.
Although Mr Pilot’s revolt is ill-planned and ill-timed and has the potential of withering away sooner than expected, but it has certainly added intensity to the debate regarding role and capacity of the Gandhi family to continue to run the party as a sole proprietor company. This has created a situation of hopelessness in the party resulting in members of both old-guard and younger generation deserting the Congress though for greener pasture.
The Gandhi family suddenly finds itself caught in a strange dilemma. Firstly, it were the members of the old and trusted group of leaders who had started walking out after 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha defeats, on one pretext or the other. The reason forwarded was that they were running danger of being slighted and marginalised in view of the rise of a young team under Mr Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. Even those members of this gang who are fully entrenched in the party set up, have not been sitting ideal and plotting against the younger generation (read Rahul Gandhi) in this transitional war.
The dilemma has now been worst compounded for the Gandhi family as the members of the younger group of leaders have started revolting against Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. This revolt is the result of indecisiveness and growing feeling among them that the Rahul-Priynaka duo was unable to protect their interests.
The ever-demanding old guard is disgruntled. The younger lot is restive and in a hurry and in turn losing patience due to inordinate delay in transition of power from old to the new generation. As such a situation had been developing for the past few years as the Gandhi family has become inactive ringside viewers. The result is that the party affairs have become messier by the day.
If questions are being raised whether the unimpressive run of the Gandhi-family should continue or that they should vacate space for someone outside the family to become its president and run the show, this is but natural. The status quo approach will only worsen the situation for Congress with formidable opponent in Narendra Modi-led ruling BJP ready to exploit chinks in the over a century old party’s armoury.
It is on account of the indecisiveness and the party leadership being in a perpetual denial mode that it has been losing elected state governments to the utter machinations of its opponents. It is fair to blame a hyper-active BJP under Modi-Amit Shah duo who have no qualms in toppling non-BJP governments particularly of the Congress variety “by hook or by crook”. But that does not absolve Congress of its mistakes and follies.
Again to be fair to the BJP the saffron party is only exploiting the weaknesses of the Congress and hitting hard where it hurts the most. They have been able to do it with impunity primarily due to weak defences of the Congress and that the party is a divided lot from top to the bottom and factionalism refuses to die down at the centre as well as in almost all its state units.
Decisive actions such as the one reflected in Rajasthan after Mr Pilot’s revolt, was what should have happened long back. Whether Mr Pilot reconciles his position within the Congress or not is a secondary question now. But the fact of the matter is that the clipping of his wings without any delay has put him on the defensive.
The leaders both of the old-guard and the younger generation have to take their share of blame for being more demanding and being over-ambitious respectively without contributing to the organisational growth. This is so because there is no system of fixing accountability in the Congress. There are examples of persons being AICC general secretaries for years together but without any worthwhile contribution in strengthening the party in the states under their charge. Similar has been the case with Congress ministers, both at the Centre in the past, and in the states. On becoming ministers they are totally disconnected from the party and its rank and file.
This is nothing new. Such a situation prevailed when Mrs Sonia Gandhi was president till she was replaced by her son Mr Rahul Gandhi. While the former preferred to do everything to keep the old-flock happy without fixing accountability, Mr Gandhi tried to change the trend but was too brash in his approach and as a result he could not last long at the helm.
Message for the Gandhis is loud and clear perform or make way for someone else. Act as it is already too late, and perform your duty as the opposition party which you have failed to do up till now.