Monday, 8 August, 2022
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This is Congress’ last chance to get its own Modi

Congress needs a genuine internal election, not a stage play directed by the Gandhis in which everyone else is reduced to a mere prop.

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The Congress Working Committee’s decision to elect a new president by June “at any cost” could well be the party’s last chance to find its very own Narendra Modi. This, only if the Congress does not go through with the election as a mere sham, particularly for the post of party president — using it as a ruse to merely reaffirm overwhelming support to, and prop up, a Gandhi.

I call it the last chance because the rate at which the Congress is sinking could mean all its potential leadership talent abandoning it before the party finally wakes up to the need for a genuine overhaul.

For all its claims of commitment to democracy, Congress has, for long, been the most undemocratic party, a fact stated repeatedly by many. Yes, even more undemocratic than the Bharatiya Janata Party — at least in the pre-Modi era — which managed to throw up two leaders confined to one state as its most powerful national duo.

When in 1998 then-party chief Sitaram Kesri locked horns with Sonia Gandhi, he was asked to step down by passing a Congress Working Committee (CWC) resolution. Since then, it has been entirely about a quiet submission to the reign of the Gandhis, from Sonia to Rahul and back to Sonia. Of course, with a generous dose of ‘Priyanka (Gandhi Vadra) for president’ being thrown in by loyalists.

Today, what the Congress needs is an honest election — with actual candidates and a chance given to anybody, who wants to and is qualified, to contest for the post of president. The party needs, and deserves, a shot at finding its own Modi or Amit Shah.

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The persistent sham

The Gandhi family’s iron grip over the party needs no mentioning. But under its shadow, everything in the name of elections and selections has been reduced to a sham.

In Congress, everything happens as per the whim of the Gandhi family. With most in the party happy to play along. Nearly two dozen leaders writing a letter questioning the top leadership and demanding organisational reforms is just an aberration.

When Sonia ‘displaced’ Sitaram Kesri, Congress — a party with leaders who have serious divisions and preferences — did witness some protest. Since then, however, the party has been top-controlled, almost dictatorial and with dangerously fast-diminishing returns.

It was way back in 1997 (Kolkata session) and before that in 1992 (Tirupati session) when the CWC saw some real contest. After the 1997 session, there hasn’t been any election to the CWC.

In 2004, when Congress came to power under the UPA umbrella, Sonia Gandhi declined the prime minister’s post, but not without appointing a leader — Manmohan Singh — of her choice. No election process to be bothered with.

With the UPA’s declining fortunes in its second term, the Gandhi family’s weakening grip over contemporary politics became clear. And yet, the party became a game of ‘passing the parcel between Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’. The latter was made vice-president of the party in 2013, and succeeded his mother as president in 2017 — all done as a smooth, largely unquestioned tradition, like in kingdoms of ancient times.

Then Congress office-bearer Shehzad Poonawalla became an aberration when he questioned Rahul’s elevation in 2017 — but his act was seen more as comic relief than a serious reminder of what ails the party.

The Gandhis’ reluctance to let go of control, along with their failure to evolve in the Modi-Shah era, has meant the party has fallen into a dark abyss, with the recovery road looking bumpy and distant.

Also read: Not West Bengal, but it’s the Assam polls that is most crucial for Modi-Shah this year

The need for a real election

To say the Gandhi leadership has failed miserably in recent years to keep the Congress afloat will be euphemistic. Sources in the party say the situation has become acute after the passing away of chief strategist and Congress veteran Ahmed Patel. A sinking leadership and no lifeboat has meant there is no point-person to deal with the allies, other parties, or even to solve intra-party disputes. Those in team Rahul may feel they are heavyweights in the party, but in reality, are political lightweights outside the Congress cocoon.

Faced with a do-or-die crisis, the Congress desperately needs to find its own version of a successful, and electorally astute leader. Rahul or Priyanka Gandhi cannot fill that void. The impending organisational elections can just be that platform to identify who can ably lead the party out of this mess.

Narendra Modi was just a state chief minister. He may have been a popular three-time CM, but he is not the only one in the BJP or elsewhere to have served multiple terms successfully. Despite a fairly tall national leadership post-Atal Bihari Vajpayee — starting with L.K. Advani and going on to include the likes of Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari (who have served as party presidents) — Modi managed to push his case and break into the national scene. At the BJP’s national executive meet in Goa in the summer of 2013, the party was deeply divided over the issue of who its PM face in the 2014 Lok Sabha election should be. But Modi managed to garner more support compared to his rivals, and was declared the head of the poll campaign.

That the BJP is no longer as democratic as it once used to be is true, but this doesn’t cut ice as an argument by the Congress, simply because the former is winning under the current leadership. Modi and Shah are continuing at the helm by virtue of mass support they hold, which has been proved election after election. The Congress, meanwhile, has to revisit the lack of internal democracy, not because dynastic politics is evil, but because the dynasty has lost its mandate among those who matter the most — the voter.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as popular, charismatic and well-liked as he was, lost the BJP a crucial election in 2004, which gave the Congress its foothold back in national politics. At that point, it was Sonia Gandhi who managed to bring the Congress back to the spotlight. Would Advani have managed to give to the BJP what Modi did, in terms of both national and state-by-state capture of power? It is difficult to answer this but what cannot be denied is the fact that Modi gave the BJP a new lease of life.

The Congress needs its own Narendra Modi, and that does not mean it needs a replica of the PM or someone who toes a divisive and provocative line. But the party does need a true national leader, an election winner and a politician with weight. Let the CWC and Central Election Committee elections provide an opening for that, instead of being reduced to a stage play directed by the Gandhis in which everyone else in the Congress is reduced to a mere prop.

Views are personal.

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  1. One Gujarathi demagogue with a pogrom under his belt – albeit a graduate of Delhi university – need not be replaced by another demagogue. The Congress needs to get out of the Gandhi family straightjacket and find another capable leader – not another fascist.

  2. In these distressing times we need services of Nehru family to keep the entertainment quotient up for the country. We cannot thank them enough.
    But why do the author sound like a shubhchintak (couldn’t find an English word for this, well-wisher doesn’t capture the same essence) of Congress party. Let’s not come out of the closet so soon, next elections aren’t due till 2024.

  3. All the authors at The Print and the similar Congress-friendly or the leftist newspapers keep promoting Ahmad Patel as pinnacle of some sorts, while ruing the decline of Congress. This is self-contradictory. Ahmad Patel as the Chief Strategist of the Congress, ran it aground and oversaw its annihilation, he can or people of his ilk, the cunning shady stooges with no substance or mass support, can prop congress up for they have no experience in devising “grass-root mass-support” strategies as they have zero experience in it. People like Ahmed Patel draw their power by being sycophant stooges, they do not understand what “personal leadership” means let alone the “mass leadership”, “charismatic leadership” or “transformational servant leadership” which NaMo genuinely embodies. RADIA TAPES types of authors, Shekhar Gupta hires or tries to groom by surrounding himself with lots of young beautiful girls (and no male) at The Print, what is he trying to do really? Be the next Tarun Tejpal or J Akbar?

    Shekhar, listen up , clean up your act. Fire all your staff, especially tukde tukde gang, among them especially those who are wannabe or former RADIA types. You are a smart baniya, clean it up before it hits the fan and when there is no going back for your own sinking ship. Worry first about your own sinking ship, before you worry about congress’s sinking ship. In short, hire staff for talent, not for SONA SONA THOBDA.

  4. Just because someone is elected by a show of hands doesn’t make him / her a Modi. What about track record in governance ? Except for Amrinder Singh, or Baghel, no younger person has any record in the Congress.

  5. In a democracy it is not wrong to be in the opposition. BJP won just two seats and bounced back to today ‘s status after a gap of a gap of a decade. In India we need to have a strong opposition to have a strong democracy. With the entry of inexperienced, incapable Nehru family members into the INC it is nose diving in its performance and loosing the confidence of people. INC is not the property of Nehru family. The members of INC should have spine and guts to stand up on their own legs rather than the Nehurivian legacy. Unless otherwise INC distances itself from the Nehru family they can not thing of coming to power at least in 2029 election. Not only the Nehru family but also all the age old congress leaders should be submerged in Sea. New Blood should be infused.

  6. It indeed a shame that a main opposition party in India can’t create a good successor. In management it’s called deep bench. With all its faults, BJP has it. Even though today you see only two people, I know how much efforts they take to make new karyakartas and future leaders. No other organisation comes even closer.

  7. Congress problem is it has been out- of sync with Indian people, since Independence. A failure that was hidden during charismatic leadership of Nehru & Indira. BJP was more in sync but did not have such charismatic leadership. But charisma can only take so much. Once Congress was without charismatic leadership, it’s inherent out of sync ideology means it can not win election, particularly when faced against a party which is in sync and has also charismatic leadership.

    So what Congress need is new ideology. It should dump the nonsense of socialism, secularism etc.

  8. mrs Ruhi Tiwari :do we need one more general diar and lier P.M.india never need one more is enough.Congress also do not need modi.your article is just a gimmick to satisfied to modi none else

  9. I fail to understand the MYSTERY of this iron grip of Sonia/ Rahul on Congress.
    Have Congress man gone totally impotent? Or turned into serfs??
    They toil in far flung states and still being some 55 seats but cower in front of Sonia?
    Why? Why??
    What Sonia has done for this nation?
    In a serious tone, I am saying, this plant of foreign origin, has no chance of thriving in this soil.
    2004 was an aberration and 2009 was worst imaginable happening to any nation.

  10. Sonia a did not “decline the PM position”, you dumbo. She was constitutionally ineligible to hold the post. You are a shameless liar!

  11. i am not a betting person. nevertheless how about a bet that congress’s modi will be the one and only rahul gandhi?

  12. Shri Pappu Ji is the greatest Congress leader to date. Why do you want to go looking when the champion is right there???

    • If the Late Ahmad Patel was a master strategist for the grand old party, why is the party in such a bad state now. Time provides the best strategists. Any party or individual can rise to greater heights when crisis is turned into opportunity. Opportunities are many now & there is no lack of leaders. Shake of the dust & move on. Sky is the limit. Good luck.

  13. Bjp has best chance as long as pseudo secular garbage so called journalist guides islamic national guys never learn

  14. Just by repeating a number of times in the course of this article that BJP is less democratic under Modi &. Shah, it does not necessarily become so. The article is about Congress getting a new, democratically elected party president. BJP’s president is neither Modi nor Shah, but JP Nadda, under whose watch BJP won the Bihar elections. Smt Ruhi has to work harder to get rid of the rookie tag.

  15. Congress is on its destined journey of extinction. The history of last 70-80 years should convince every body that there is no vacant space for second All-India level political party in India. Previously it was Congress , now it is BJP . Second space for political parties in India will remain occupied for a considerable period of time by local level regional parties as India is a nation state comprising of sub- national identities professed and possessed by its sub-groups based on there individual language, sub-culture , regional identities based on distance from the power center ( means Capital of the Nation ) , regional climate and life style being followed by the people for a long time. The sane elements still remaining loyal to its owner family should leave this dying dinosaur otherwise they too will be fossilized for ever. This is advice to politicians . Journalists loyal to family can keep on showing their loyalty to Family by writing in praising of the Family as readers need some trash to enjoy reading boring stuff with no head or tail .

  16. Capt. Amrinder Singh is a good candidate. But his handling of.punjab economic and agri crisis along with farmer protests are his test. He can manage them. If he does, he’d be a good counter to Modi. Elections would be competitive finally. Rahul should just chuck and go to a holiday somewhere and i say this with no contempt. He simply is not made for.politics. His resignation Will make both him and india happy.

  17. It doesn’t need another MODIJI.

    It needs to change completely as

    1) Abandon ROME RAJYA and follow the path towards RAM RAJYA.

    2) Adopt strict POPULATION CONTROL MEASURES for all citizens.

    3) Remove ultra left wing radicals and jihadist from it’s political ideology setup.

    4) Thousands of HINDU/CHRISTIAN/SIKH women are being raped and forcefully converted and men enslaved in pakistan. Highlight these atrocities and commit not to protest against their refuge in INDIA.

    4) No more FAKE HISTORY that rapist and MURDERERS and criminals are described as benign rulers in history books.

    5) HINDUS shouldn’t be attacked, arrested and booked as terrorist for chanting JAI SHRI RAM.

    6) Identifying all foreign funded NGO’s involved in proselytizing activities amongst tribals and supporting naxalites.

    7) HINDUS don’t believe in conversion and respect all religions hence whatever religion you follow. Follow it with honour and don’t try to identify yourself as HINDUS for political gains.
    HINDUS know and respect CHRISTIANS and MUSLIMS as patriots of highest order and hence no need to hide your faith.
    Remember Sangma the speaker of Loksabha was a Christian and would have made popular Primeminister.

    • You Know Entire history. What ever be the history records by Sangh Parivar is true history . So No so Called Hindu Kings were murderers and rapists they were are all saints. if it is acceptable then so Called hindus will vote for congress. Rather than getting these kind of Bharathiya Junk votes I request Congress to be opposition party for ever.

      • ” I request Congress to be opposition party for ever.”
        Bright Idea from true Gardabhrajan like another Sidddharth Gardabhrajan.

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