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Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot have one way to survive politically — by leaving Congress

Unlike BJP, Congress does have a healthy second-rung bench strength. But all these leaders have been doing the past few years is, well, nothing.

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Busy battling intra-party rivalries, no prominent role in the central leadership, losing elections thanks to a ruptured top command twiddling their thumbs, younger leaders like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia, among others, have to think disruptive and move out of the Congress.

The ability of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to keep the party together is eroding by the day. India’s oldest political party must now break up in order for its leaders and ideology to thrive.

Unlike Narendra Modi-Amit Shah’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress does have a healthy bench strength to boast of, particularly among the young guard. And yet, all that these leaders have done for the past few years is, well, nothing. If they want a sustainable future in politics, these politicians have little option but to cut the umbilical cord.

Congress’ infamous and now-perennial old guard-versus-new guard strife has been in the news yet again with the spats between former Congress ministers Ajay Maken and Milind Deora, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia. Sharmistha Mukherjee also called out P. Chidambaram on Twitter for congratulation the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for its Delhi win.

This should be embarrassing for the Congress, but more importantly, it ought to worry the Scindia-Pilot category of leaders for what it is doing to their political careers — consuming them in petty rivalries rather than letting them focus on future elections.

Also read: Sharmishtha Mukherjee said what many in Congress are saying. Does she have a follow-up plan?

The turf wars

The Scindia-Kamal Nath rivalry in Madhya Pradesh or the Pilot-Ashok Gehlot rocky relationship in Rajasthan has been as public as can be, and in a way, has consumed the younger turks completely.

Both Jyotiraditya and Sachin had unhidden chief ministerial ambitions, both did their respective tasks in their states and both were restless to make it to the top posts. But when the Congress won in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the top command — which at that point primarily meant then Congress president Rahul Gandhi — chose to go with the older guard as CMs.

Resentment has been brewing since, with both Pilot and Scindia limited to their states with no national role, and even in their respective turfs, reduced to second fiddle. Both have been ministers at the Centre in the UPA-era.

The internal wars, however, transcend much beyond just these two leaders.

As the Sharmistha Mukherjee-P. Chidambaram and Milind Deora-Ajay Maken fights show, these are all inherent frustrations manifesting publicly. It signals a sense of exasperation and helplessness that seems to have seeped into the younger guard.

What meaningful work have other gen-next Congress leaders, especially those who have lost their elections, been doing? From Jitin Prasada in Uttar Pradesh to Sushmita Dev in Assam — no Congress leader of this generation is at the forefront, and that is because the only ones allowed national spotlight are the Gandhi siblings.

The Gandhis, meanwhile, seem fairly content about presiding over a collapsing empire, plagued by countless internal wars, games of one-upmanship and a completely demotivated second-rung.

Also read: Deora, Kamal Nath, Scindia, Ajay Maken: Congress imploding or showing internal democracy?

A sinking ship

By no measure can one write the Congress off. After all, nearly 12 crore Indians still vote for it. A revival – in whatever form, be it as splintered groups or with a rejuvenated leadership – is inadvertent. However, politicians like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia can hardly be in politics to sit out of power and waste precious time, which should actually be a movement towards the peak of their careers.

There have, in fact, been murmurs of both these leaders, besides others, of looking for options outside the Congress.

The bigger issue is why these leaders, despite not being unpopular themselves, have lost their elections. A completely uninspired and uninspiring top leadership — especially with Rahul Gandhi as the face — and a rudderless, strategy-deprived party has been their undoing.

In the embarrassing rout the Congress faced in both the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, only a lucky few survived, with the rest being washed away in the flood of unpopularity and the reputation of the party.

Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra seem interested only in themselves, not in their party or in the growth prospects of their colleagues. The fact that despite the many recent failures, the family hasn’t stepped aside, only goes to show they will never cede space to a non-Gandhi. More worryingly, their approach towards state units also reeks of confusion and insecurity, with no desire to promote and mould younger leaders, lest they emerge as threats.

Leaders like Scindia and Pilot may have been family-loyalists, and also close to Rahul Gandhi, but politics is all about the art of self-preservation over all else. And these politicians aren’t oblivious of that either.

For the spirit of the Congress party to live on, and for its able young guard to survive, it is imperative they break-away — whether together as a cohesive force or in a splintered, but well-strategised, fashion. The oldest party of India has become home to the proverbial frogs in a well, where no one — especially the top command — wants to emerge out of the darkness, or allow others to do so. Each of these leaders needs to climb out on their own to avoid drowning, and the life-jacket they need for that most certainly cannot be their parent party.

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  1. Mafiaso Was Comfortable Riding Old Horses For Raking In The Moola Which The Mules Would Not Have Been Familiar With.

  2. Nothing good can happen to Congress until its top leadership (read: “The Family) sheds its feudal mentality and smugness, accepting that the party belongs to its workers and cadres and is not a ‘Kingdom’ of which ‘they’ are perpetual rulers, and only those whom ‘they’ favour are the its citizens.’.

  3. If the author is the head of her family and her family members too have differences of opinion, unable to grow individually because of relying on it’s head for everything the reason being in joint family, then if some well-wisher asks her to relieve her family members so that they can live their life on their own terms, Would she encourage her family to split???
    Difference of opinion are there everywhere but a good family stands united only when it overcomes or ignores the differences between them patiently similarly in a party and that too a grand old national party, there would be lot of charismatic leaders with lots of aspirations but when the party is in dire situation it would be better if all the members remain in unity and ignore outside interference. Likewise, in a party all the senior members should give opportunity to the young talents to rise to lead the party. Anyways, this is the internal affairs of Congress, why should anyone poke their nose in others affairs. If they have the guts let them suggest anything about the ruling BJP.
    All those criticising and giving suggestions won’t contribute neither can they do much beyond that. Each one should look after its own business.

  4. They cannot survive individually politically. Yet, we know that they are clean, sincere, and forward-looking. So they should join AAP, and kick-start that party’s operations in their respective states. That will be the best and fastest way to build a solid reliable and efficient alternative to the destructive and demonic BJP of Modi-Shah.

  5. These leaders must break out from Congress,build regional political parties and leverage their position of strength……from either of the major parties

  6. After every verdict these election pundits come out with their analysis. Funny thing is though, that their views are so contradictory.
    First she made it pretty clear that one can not write off Congress completely and then she says that if Jyotiraaditya and Sachin want to prolong their career upward then they should leave the party.
    First, Ruhi has to understand that the erosion of confidence is not limited to only Congress but also its leaders. Secondly, future of anyone in BJP who has had no association with RSS is limited. And lastly, any third party ambition in both Rajasthan and MP is simply with no substance. These states are neither Delhi nor this is 2012.
    We also must accept the fact that Rahul and Priyanka’s media coverage are not due to their stature in Congress but simply because they are Gandhis.

  7. Congress party will not change till Sonia Gandhi is alive. When she is gone, people will throw rahul out and then, only then, the party has some hope. Till then they must stay in the opposition bench.

  8. Jyotiraye Schindia should quit the Congress Party. It’s surprising how he continues with the Congress a party which did not hesitate to insult his grandparents.

  9. Rubbish article to say BJP has no good second rung leaders like these two. The guy who wrote this article is blind to the fact that BJP has too many leaders far superior . Yogi, Fadnavis, goyal, smrti , Surya and the list can be never ending..

  10. Very good observations. Congress is now a party of oldies like P.C.,Kapil Sibal,Kamalnath,Gehlot etc whose voice have no value.It is not clear why Pilot,Scindia,Deora,Jitin are in Congress and what they are going to achieve in the party. They have the potential to be future leaders but Rahul & Co will never allow them anywhere near the power centre. Then why are they still continuing in Congress. They should chalk out on their own and be of service to the country. It is said that a person is known by the company he keeps. So these youngsters should not be associated with fools like Rahul, Priyanka,and Sonia who have no idea about any subject concerning India. If Scindia,Pilot, Deora etc youngsters come out and float a party, they will over shins even AK. They should do serious thinking before it’s too late.

  11. Caught between a rock and hard place; the unenviable situation of not just mini dynasts like Scindia, Pilot, Deora etc but also those of pseudo secularists, liberals and others durbaris who rode the Congress wave for decades.

  12. The author is probably not aware what was status of BJP when it was loosing every other elections from around 2004. Arun Shourie called Rajnath Singh as Alice In Blunder Land as BJP is Kuti Patang. Congress is same page now

  13. ” A revival – in whatever form, be it as splintered groups or with a rejuvenated leadership – is inadvertent. ”
    What do you mean?

  14. All you people who constantly try to tear the opposition a part,will be remembered in history as traitors and enablers of fascism….this tiwari is obviously a bigoted brahmin,who thinks bjo has good second rung leadership,lol tell me who is the second rung leader apart from the fascist duo….people day in and out praise feku and defend him and here she talks of sycophancy in congress where no one defended rahul gandhi even as he faced the most ridiculous bullying both by bjp and media….anywhere that congress looses it is because of rahul gandhi and any success is never attributed to him….wow….have some conscience….print is slowly but surely becoming godi media

  15. The country could do well with a credible new alternative to BJP and INC. Young, intelligent leaders like Scindia, Pilot and Deora should look for pastures where they can not only thrive but be in position to make a difference to moribund Indian politics at a national level.. AAP in a small way has shown the way albeit in Delhi. We need more young dynamic leaders to show the old guards the door.

  16. Shekhar and The Print are giving too much importance to so called 12 crore voters of Congress from 2019 elections. Most of this vote bank is not actually pro-congress but mostly anti BJP. The core strength of Congress may be now just what Delhi elections showed- at around 5%. The anti-BJP votes from Congress can move to any other regional parties easily or even to BJP if conditions are right. Having relentlessly worked for a Congress Mukt Bharat, it is now in BJP’s interest to keep Congress alive for splitting the opposition votes; otherwise, BJP faces the prospect of increasing its vote share but losing seats to regional parties as happened in Delhi elections recently. Also, assuming these young dissatisfied congressmen are ready to leave the party, the fact is that there is no great opportunity waiting for them elsewhere. They are themselves dynastic and are not capable to enough to launch their own outfits. They would rather make noises while in Congress rather than leave it and go under leadership of Arvind Kejriwal etc. or even join BJP. The protection and safety under umbrella of Gandhi’s Congress is preferable to the wild open world outside!

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