Monday, February 6, 2023
HomeOpinionPolitically CorrectIn seven sentences, CWC statement shows what’s wrong with Sonia-Rahul’s leadership

In seven sentences, CWC statement shows what’s wrong with Sonia-Rahul’s leadership

Who's responsible for the Congress' plight today? Sonia Gandhi, couldn’t have been more emphatic in conveying the message — not the Gandhis.

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Who’s responsible for the Congress party’s debacle in the recent assembly elections? Or for its dereliction in general? After five-hour-long deliberations of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) Sunday evening, Congresspersons knew no better than what American musician Bob Dylan sang in the 1960s: “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind”.

And how many years must a mountain (read Congress) exist, Before it is washed to the sea?” Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal must sing, joyously and longingly.

And how many years can some people (read Congresspersons) exist, Before they’re allowed to be free?” former Opposition Leader Ghulam Nabi Azad must wonder.

Yes, and how many times can a man (read Rahul Gandhi) turn his head, And pretend that he doesn’t see?” Kapil Sibal must despair.

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”

Sorry, Bob Dylan, for dragging you into the Congress mess. But it has to be the theme song of the ‘G-22’ – the party’s ginger group minus Jitin Prasada. The questions they raised in their 2020 letter to Sonia Gandhi remain as they were after Sunday’s CWC meeting. There are no takers for the answers they offered.

Ready for ‘sacrifice’

So, the original question repeats itself: Who is responsible for the opposition party’s plight today? Its interim president, Sonia Gandhi, couldn’t have been more emphatic in conveying the message — not the Gandhis. At the very beginning of the CWC meeting, she was defiant. If the CWC members — all her nominees — thought she and her children were responsible for what’s happened to the Congress, the three of them were willing to ‘sacrifice’ and ‘step away’. Remember Rahul Gandhi’s resignation letter that he had tweeted in July 2019 after the humiliating loss in the Lok Sabha elections? It also spoke of ‘sacrifices’ as he virtually put the onus of defeat on his party colleagues, writing how he “stood completely alone” in his fight against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

’Sacrifice’ was Sonia’s Brahmastra on Thursday too. The CWC members just caved in. If the Gandhi family has sacrificed so much, shouldn’t the Congress also sacrifice itself for the family? Fair enough.

But the question lingers: If the Gandhis aren’t responsible for the Congress’ existential crisis, who is? The clue to this answer lies in the CWC statement released after the meeting. Every sentence is revelatory, and one doesn’t even need to read between the lines.

Also read: Five takeaways from Rahul Gandhi’s open letter

Let sleeping dogs lie

So, here goes the first line: “The recent assembly election results of five states are a cause of serious concern for the Indian National Congress.” So, the opposition party’s concern is limited to the recent assembly elections! Doesn’t it see an existential crisis — a party that has lost over 40 elections and won just five in the last eight years? It hasn’t been able to get even 10 per cent of the total Lok Sabha seats in the past two elections, failing to get even the Leader of Opposition’s status. But then, there is a reason why the CWC must limit itself to talking about the recent polls only. It doesn’t want to see a pattern in its losses. Because if there is a pattern underlining an existential crisis, it exposes the leadership’s follies — its incapability, unacceptability, and lack of accountability.

The second sentence was: “The party accepts that due to shortcomings in our strategy, we could not effectively expose the misrule of BJP state governments in four states and overcome the anti-incumbency in the state of Punjab in the short time after effecting a change of leadership”.

Look at the way the CWC statement is seeking to justify the Gandhis’ reckless use of authority that not only cost the party Punjab polls but also propped up the AAP as a national alternative. There were “no shortcomings” in the Congress’ strategy because there was none. The CWC would have the people believe that the Gandhis did their best to beat “anti-incumbency” against Capt. Amarinder Singh in Punjab by ousting him. So, Singh must be blamed for the Punjab debacle and the Gandhis congratulated! Wake up, Sid! Smell the coffee.

The third sentence in the CWC statement was: “Congress party represents the hopes of millions of Indians against political authoritarianism prevailing in the country today, and the party is fully conscious of its immense responsibility”. Well, where are those millions voting against political authoritarianism? If the Congress was fighting against that in UP, for instance, look at the results — 2.33 per cent votes and two seats (out of 399 seats contested) in 2022 polls from 6.2 per cent and seven seats (out of 114 it contested) in 2017. The Congress is “fully conscious of its immense responsibility”, said the CWC statement. Really? How?

The fourth sentence expresses its gratitude to Congress workers and leaders across five states “who worked tirelessly for the party and its candidates”.The CWC might want to send teams to villages and find out how many Congress workers and leaders visited the people to explain their party’s policies and programmes.

Also read: Congress poll loss introspection turns into show of support for Rahul, CWC claims responsibility

Congress must revisit past

The fifth sentence spoken at the CWC meeting was: “While humbly accepting the electoral verdict of the latest round of assembly elections, the Congress party assures its workers and the people of India that it will continue to remain a vigilant and vibrant opposition”. One could understand if the party promised “to become” a vibrant opposition, but to say that it will “continue to remain” is amusing.

The sixth sentence was: “The Congress party will be fully prepared to face the electoral challenges in the election-going states in 2022 and 2023 as well as in the Lok Sabha elections 2024.” Now that the Congress is likely to be led by Rahul Gandhi from August-September, one may look at his commitments in the past. In December 2013, after the Congress lost in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, he promised to “transform” the party “in ways you can’t even imagine right now.” There is always a next time, of course.

The seventh sentence of the CWC statement read: “The CWC unanimously reaffirms its faith in the leadership of Smt. Sonia Gandhi and requests the Congress president to lead from the front, address the organisational weaknesses, effect necessary and comprehensive organisational changes in order to take on the political challenges”.

It is probably this last sentence that offers a glimpse of what’s playing in the Congress leaders’ minds. They want Sonia Gandhi to “lead from the front” now. Was it a Freudian slip? It’s virtually an expression of disapproval of Rahul Gandhi’s backseat driving. Yet, CWC members can’t but request Rahul Gandhi to take over.

Read the CWC statements again and one may find the answer to the first question about who is responsible for the Congress’ state of affairs today. It’s not the Gandhis as the CWC says. It can’t be the Congress workers and leaders because the CWC is thanking them for their ‘tireless’ work. It must be the voters then, no? If only they realised their mistake of abandoning the Congress, the party wouldn’t need to hold a ‘chintan shivir’ or introspection session! And when they meet for ‘chintan’, rest assured, they won’t see the elephant in the room — the fact that the Gandhi family may be indispensable to the Congress but voters have options.

DK Singh is Political Editor, ThePrint. He tweets @dksingh73. Views are personal.

(Edited by Humra Laeeq)

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