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Three reasons why Sonia Gandhi should make one last ‘supreme sacrifice’ for Congress’ sake

Congress seniors continue to hold Sonia Gandhi in respect but are uneasy about her being an interim president to keep the seat warm.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party is falling back on the Congress yet again to win the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana.

Listen to Amit Shah and other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders’ election speeches. They are all about the Congress — how it took the Kashmir issue to British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, how it is opposing the BJP’s attempt to drive out infiltrators, and how it ‘mocked’ Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for following the Indian tradition of ‘shastra puja’ on the Rafale fighter jet.

It’s an irony that five years after it dislodged the Congress from power at the Centre and in many states, the BJP continues to seek a mandate against the opposition party, and with so much certitude. Congressmen can do nothing but curse and squirm. Many of them know the way out, but don’t have the heart or the guts to spell it out. They know there is just one solution another ‘supreme sacrifice’ by interim president Sonia Gandhi, one last time.

In 1998, she had plunged into politics to save the Congress. In an interview with Shekhar Gupta for NDTV’s Walk The Talk programme in February 2004, Sonia Gandhi had talked about how she felt “pangs of guilt” every time she passed by her husband Rajiv Gandhi’s portrait in her living room — that she was not doing enough to revive the Congress.

A little over two decades later, she may be feeling the same. But she is confronted with a conflict of interests — those of her children and those of the party. The Nehru-Gandhi family must step aside and free the party of its grip. There are three reasons why Sonia Gandhi must make this ‘supreme sacrifice’ if the Congress has to be revived.

Also read: Sonia Gandhi message to party — tweeting not enough, more important to fight on the street

The family is a liability

First, the Nehru-Gandhi family is no more an asset, except for the BJP. The ruling party has successfully made the family synonymous with everything that agitates the public mind today — dynastic politics, corruption, entitlement and inefficiency. How much of it should be attributed to the BJP’s propaganda machinery and how much to the Congress party’s inability to counter it is anybody’s guess. But the fact is that every time Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home Minister Amit Shah take a jibe at the Nehru-Gandhi family, there are smiles and grins in the audience. Those jibes may not always be fair, but people seem to endorse them.

Addressing a public meeting in Maharashtra’s Sangli Thursday, Amit Shah asked people to end the dynasties of the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the coming elections.

Not that the BJP doesn’t have dynasts. In Maharashtra, veteran leader Gopinath Munde’s daughter, Pankaja Munde, was made a minister in Devendra Fadnavis’ cabinet and has been given the party ticket again. The BJP denied a ticket to veteran party leader Eknath Khadse, who had to resign as revenue minister on charges of corruption, but gave it to his daughter Rohini. Former state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve’s son Santosh has been re-nominated. In the party’s first list, 25 candidates are family members of BJP leaders.

In Haryana, it has fielded Aditya Devi Lal, grandson of Devi Lal, and Bhajan Lal’s nephew Dura Ram Bishnoi, among others. The Treasury Benches in the Lok Sabha are occupied by many dynasts — Maneka Gandhi and her son Varun, Anurag Thakur, Dharmendra Pradhan, and Poonam Mahajan to name just a few.

Yet, when Modi or Shah criticise the Congress for promoting dynasts, it’s greeted with claps and laughter — as if only the Congress has dynasts. But that tells us how the people have grown weary of the Nehru-Gandhi family. As it is, the Gandhis can’t get votes for the Congress any longer.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi has taken a backseat, but his team is running Congress show

Family’s disconnect with the masses

Second, the Nehru-Gandhi family members have lost connect with the masses, their feelings, hopes and aspirations. Rahul Gandhi has been so busy fighting an “ideological” battle with the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that he has lost sight of the political battle. Promising a review of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and sedition laws in the party’s 2019 manifesto post-Balakot airstrikes were tantamount to political suicide, but he wouldn’t compromise on his ideological beliefs.

He wasn’t much impressed by his party colleagues’ appeals to respect the public sentiments about the defanging of Article 370 either, as he boarded a flight for Srinagar, ostensibly to expose the government’s claims of normalcy in the Valley. When the UK Overseas Congress delegation met Corbyn to talk about “human rights situation” in Kashmir, it was probably trying to please the former Congress president. Sam Pitroda, Rahul’s close aide, chairs the India Overseas Congress. Gandhi’s ceaseless diatribe against the RSS may not fetch any extra votes but he must talk about the Sangh ad infinitum because the ideological battle must take precedence.

It seems to be rubbing off on his party colleagues, too. Addressing a gathering in Raipur Thursday, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel berated the RSS, saying that the Sangh’s nationalism is inspired by “Hitler and Mussolini”. My colleague, Deeksha Bhardwaj, who was covering the event decided to check with the audience what people made of it. They happened to know Hitler as “a dictator” but seemed clueless about the Italian dictator. “Woh bhi goondagardi karta tha (Mussolini too was a ruffian),” a young man came forward to explain. You can only imagine the Dalits’ response to Rahul Gandhi’s message to them that they need the “escape velocity” of Jupiter to succeed.

The family’s focus on ideology has somehow resulted in total confusion about everything people would like to hear from the principal opposition party. So, there is radio silence at the Congress headquarters when Amit Shah dares the party to spell out a clear stance on Article 370, on the BJP’s resolve to construct a Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Ayodhya, on the National Register of Citizens, et al.

Also read: What Sonia Gandhi could learn from Queen Elizabeth II

Family is no longer the glue

Third, the Nehru-Gandhi family is no longer the glue that once kept the party together, the biggest argument that its supporters proffered to justify its continuance.

The Congress has been witnessing an exodus of leaders as they see no future in the party. Many are forced to stay back because the BJP can’t accommodate them. Even the committed party leaders have doubts about the ability of the first family to pull the party through this crisis. Senior leader Salman Khurshid, whose remarks about Rahul Gandhi “walking away” triggered a storm in the party, is not the only one feeling this way.

The seniors continue to hold Sonia Gandhi in respect but are uneasy about her decision to take charge of the party as interim president to keep the seat warm for Rahul Gandhi whenever he chooses to return. A veteran leader who swears by his loyalty to the Gandhi family conceded to this author last week that while the public sentiments about the Modi government were changing on the ground, “she (Sonia Gandhi) will have to give up putra moh (affection for her son)” if she wants the revival of the Congress.

Is Sonia Gandhi listening?

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  1. Pray, what will that “supreme sacifice” be? Loot some more of the nation’s funds to enrich herself and the family, as she has done during the dynasty raj?

  2. See lot of dynasty bhakths ruing about congress fate. They do not get it, why should GOP become a domain of just one family. Why not new leadership should be encouraged. For a democracy to sustain we need strong opposition, unfortunately Modi – Shah decimated that opposition which has become corrupt, nepotistic, and vision less. Just for the sake of sentiment and their loyalty these bhakts are still supporting these incompetent people. But you know what, Modi-Shah screwing up economy big time. Recent reforms such as Article 370 and Triple talaq will be lost in the sands of time and people will start seeking for alternative very soon. I hope congress leadership comes up with that alternative by that time. Indeed, is Mrs Gandhi listening?

  3. No doubt DK Singh is proving through every word of his article, he is a BJP man. He is Bhakt. Its ok if he is so. Its his personal choice. But being a Media person he should not be so negative and partial. In fact almost all medias in India became Paid media. So we think DK Singh too playing same role.

  4. Ballot paper voting will bring the truth out. Who is what. One must agree that, all cases filed against corrupt by Manmohan Singh then Prime Minister, and found all those corruption cases proved in the court no substance in them. That means all those cases were politically motivated, second present ruling party if honest in their actions, they should have taken up the several genuine cases against BJP Ministers and other people, those also serious cases like Rapes, Murders, Lynching cases. Why there was no action. Why criminals, and tainted persons, tax avengers from other parties when crossed over to BJP, how their sin washed over. Why no single case from Tax officials, ED and CBI against corrupt people like yeddiyurappa and how harassment is going on, on opposition leaders. This shows there is no genuinity in ruling the country by present regime. In 2019 Election, there were 20,000 EVM machines were missing in transit and also EVM machines were remotely controlled by EVM technical staff. So there us enough substance to doubt genuinity of present regime. Let us have ballot paper voting. We will see the truth.

  5. It is not the dynasty politics per se, it is the narrative doctored by BJP is making the people to see negative about congress party… The author has simply asked for one last sacrifice from Smt. Sonia Ganghi but before her sacrifice of the seat of party president, do they have any competent leaders left at secondary level? Unfortunately, the strongest advocate of democracy in the current scenario in India does not have any democracy in the party… so from where you will get leaders? Congress needs to grow its base from the grass roots again, it needs to grow its ideological base without getting influenced by BJP (The way it was trapped into making soft hindutva image by indulging in temple politics). They need to nurture state level leadership afresh and start street level politics. If you continue with the situation, your space will be taken by Leftists and local parties. If you don’t take corrective measures, the guard will change from right to left… May be after some time or even may after learning hard and painful lessons but it is inevitable.

  6. If the Gandhi family is a liability, if it has lost connection with the masses, and if it is no longer a glue, then what enables it ti maintain grip on the party?

  7. The whole article is a total nonsense.If the party is not about ideology than what else it should be?Ideology is nothing but values one believes in.But why BJB facism is winning is another thing.

  8. Putra moh comes naturally to mothers all over the world. Even a tigress privileges a male cub when milk is running short. However, Smt Sonia Gandhi ought to have known better than anyone else the attributes and qualities of her son and designated heir. Unworthy of such a vast inheritance. From what little one has seen of Ms Priyanka Gandhi since she was formally inducted, she is not an SLBM either. Like other dynasties, including in the world of business, the magic is gone. Whether altruism, patriotism or pragmatism, the matriarch should put everyone out of their agony. If the incumbent continues not to deliver, the burden on the Opposition will reduce.

  9. Three reasons why no ‘supreme sacrifice’ for Congress’ sake will come. Supreme sacrifice will mean giving up (1) The perks enjoyed at the cost of taxpayers. (2) The lawyers fees will have to be paid for all the court appearances, current and prospective( who knows what the money trails will lead to) the whos how in the SC do not come cheap (3) Worthless importance enjoyed by visits of dignitaries.
    The glue which was bonding the party had a big money component which must have dried post de-mo. One term out of power and Johalwalas find them useless, the lack of original vision and oratory were covered up by chamchas while in power, that now reduces them to also ran. The prudent thing would be to cut losses and beat it but even that is not going to be easy because the law will have to faced. With Mallya, Modi and Choksi in queue even that kind of option is closed.

  10. Yes, people are getting disillusioned by BJP & Mr Modi. Nationality, Hinduism & NRC doesn’t have any interest when there is unemployment, poor economy, dwindling business without any remedy.

  11. How ridiculous article it’s ! Only anger on congress! Why DK Singh don’t ask the question that why Shah & Modi both attack congress? Because we r the opposition & our leadership is our strength ! If we they leave congress will be Janata dal ! No one has a acceptable & respect across a state itself leave the country! Our problem that those traitors in the party who briefed you off the record! I had great respect when u were in IE ! But now u r writing has one sided story

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