New Delhi: What transpires between Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot today is symptomatic of a larger malaise within the Congress Party, said ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta in episode 521 of ‘Cut The Clutter’.
“In the last two decades or so, what has changed within the Congress party is also what has remained the same,” said Gupta.
What has changed most of all is the strength of the dynasty that rules the Congress Party, that is the strength of the Gandhi family. They simply cannot get votes for their party men and women to get elected anymore. In fact, they struggle to get votes for themselves.
In the 2019 elections, then party president Rahul Gandhi lost his Amethi seat by a sizeable number of votes. So the ability of the Gandhi family now to get votes for their own is gone.
That’s a big disadvantage in politics and yet what hasn’t changed is their control over the party, which is probably the strongest-ever in the history of the Congress.
India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had people who rebelled against him and who challenged him in the cabinet. Former prime minister Indira Gandhi, too, had rebellions within her system.
However, the Congress of today has no such problem.
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This is the basic contradiction of the party.
Sustaining Congress’ fundamental contradiction
This has happened because of the way the Congress party is constructed — it does not have a strong ideology binding people. Most of the leaders in the Congress Party inherited their positions such as Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora, Jitin Prasada, and now BJP member Jyotiraditya Scindia.
While they may swear by their ideological commitment — that only comes later. They want power.
Now, once you are there for power, then one thing you worry about is that one of your peers will reach the top. So then you get the ‘crabs in the pitcher’ syndrome, which means if any crab is climbing up, other crabs will pull it down.
On the other hand, if you have somebody from the dynasty, who you know is entitled to rule the party but at the same time they don’t threaten you because you are not in competition with him or her, then you accept their dominance. In this sense, the Gandhis don’t threaten anybody.
This is also why whenever you have a P.V. Narasimha Rao or Sita Ram Kesari and they give you instructions, nobody follows them.
However, when the Gandhi’s do some such thing, everybody falls in line because they are the leaders by default. So that is how this contradiction is sustained.
Rise of smaller, more effective dynasties
In many regions across the country, new dynasties have come up and have essentially taken away the Congress party’s vote, which has now become the ‘C team’ in these states. The latest example of this was Maharashtra where even the National Congress Party (NCP) went ahead of the Congress.
Other dynasties in different parts of the country include the Abdullahs in Kashmir, Badals in Punjab, Chauatalas and the Bansi Lal dynasty in Haryana, Chandra Babu Naidu’s dynasty in Andhra Pradesh and the YSR-Jagan Mohan Reddy dynasty in the same state, KCR-KTR dynasty in Telangana, Karunandihi-Stalin in Tamil Nadu, Gowdas in Karnataka, Thackerays and Pawars in Maharashtra, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan’s dynasties in Bihar, Patnaiks in Odisha and the Sangmas in Meghalaya — among many others.
While the Congress Party is ruled by a dynasty that cannot get votes, there are 15-20 other mini dynasties whose leaders can build both vote-banks and keep them together.
So the Congress Party suffers both ways and this is the reason why its in such a big mess.
Even within the Congress party, many dynasties have come up, for instance the Amarinder Singh dynasty in Punjab, the Hoodas and the Surjewalas in Haryana, and the Dikshits in Delhi, among others.
This points towards a greater problem in the Congress. They still think they are leaders but most of them cannot win their own seats — ‘Rassi jal gayi lekin bal nahi gaya’ (the rope is burnt but the perception of strength is intact).
Watch the latest episode of CTC here:
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