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Congress fossilised, can’t beat BJP with such laid-back approach: Party spokesperson Sanjay Jha

In an interview to ThePrint, Congress national spokesperson Sanjay Jha hits out at his party for its 'high command culture' and for operating 'only out of Delhi'. 

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New Delhi: In a damning indictment of the party leadership, Congress’ national spokesperson Sanjay Jha has said the party has become “fossilised, status quoist and reluctant to change”. 

Jha also rued the lack of internal democracy in the party, pointing out that the high command didn’t consult spokespersons while banning their participation in TV debates last year.  

“The Congress has had a culture of being one of the more internally vibrant and democratic parties. But that is now gathering dust,” Jha said in an exclusive interview to ThePrint. “To the point that today we look very fossilised, status quoist and reluctant to change.” 

Jha, who has been a vocal critic of the party’s “high command culture” in the past too, said the Congress has become disconnected from the ground. 

“We have moved into a cocooned shell, and withdrawn from gauging the public mood. We sit in Delhi, completely disconnected from the ground,” he added. “This is what has given the party the notorious high command culture.” 

He also questioned why the party’s decision-making powers are limited to Delhi. 

“Why should everything happen in Delhi? Maharashtra is one of the biggest states in India, but why do we only go there during elections and not otherwise? The country is not Delhi,” Jha said. 

The Congress should appear as a party with an alternate vision, which isn’t happening, he added. “At a time when India is facing a health and economic crisis, we need to appear as a party that is a government in waiting. That isn’t happening,” he said.

Also read: Ex-Congress leaders in Karnataka will now be vetted if they want ‘ghar wapsi’

‘No one consulted spokespersons before TV decision’

Jha said he also laments the “lack of internal democracy” in the party

“Frankly, there are no (internal) forums. Even if there are, they are very cosmetic in nature,” Jha said. 

In May last year, after the Congress suffered a massive loss in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the party stopped sending its spokespersons to TV debates.  

Jha said this was a decision taken solely by the ‘high command’. “The decision was taken without consulting a single spokesperson. That’s not how things should be. People need to be consulted, their opinions sought,” he added. 

The Congress leader said while there is “no party as centralised as the BJP”, the Congress now seems fragile while criticising it for its anti-democratic measures. 

“We look very fragile when we criticise the Modi government, which is very anti-democratic. But someone will turn to us and say — do you have your own house in order? This is why internal consultations are important,” he said. 

It was during Indira Gandhi’s time that the decline of the party’s internal democracy began, Jha said. “The real centralisation of power in the party began during Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s time, unlike what it used to be before that,” he said.

I question powerful bodies like CWC: Jha

In a column in the Times of India, Jha said it is ‘the CEO’ who must be held accountable. 

“If a publicly listed company has even one bad quarter in corporate earnings, it is subjected to a brutal examination from analysts, with no one spared, particularly the CEO and the board…The Congress, on the other hand, has demonstrated extraordinary lassitude, and its lackadaisical attitude towards its own political obsolescence is baffling, to say the least,” he wrote in the column. 

When ThePrint asked Jha if he was referring to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi as the CEO, he said the party has only done worse since he abdicated the position. 

“We have lost Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh since he quit as the party president, I want to ask — who is responsible for it?” Jha questioned, without taking a name. 

While Rahul Gandhi officially only submitted his resignation in July last year, he had offered to quit as the party president in May itself, holding himself responsible for the party’s whopping loss in the Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) had then held a meeting in August, in which it was decided that Sonia Gandhi will be the interim president of the party. 

“He took a high moral posture and took responsibility for the second defeat in a row. But even after he quit, the CWC had three months to decide a leader but they couldn’t,” Jha said. “It’s these powerful bodies within the party that I question.” 

“It’s been almost a year since the election results. So it’s been a year since the second loss and there is still no clarity on the party leadership,” he added.

Also read: 3 Gujarat Congress MLAs quit, BJP looks to ‘settle score’ over Ahmed Patel’s Rajya Sabha win

‘Can’t defeat BJP with this laid-back approach’

In his column, Jha had also hit out at the party for “waging a social media hashtag tornado”. 

The Congress launched its digital campaign #SpeakUpIndia last week, targeting the Modi government for the declining economy during the Covid crisis. Besides this, Rahul Gandhi has been holding video interactions with health experts and economists in the past few weeks discussing how the lockdown can be eased. 

On these measures, Jha said: “Anything you do that adds content, and value is a constructive step going forward. But the issue is that the party needs organisational renewal.” 

He said the party’s response seems only “tactical and episodic”. 

“We are not going to be able to defeat the BJP with such a laid-back and status-quoist approach,” the Congress leader said. 

Jha said the party needs to decide on a leader from now to the next elections. “We need to restructure our party, which today is a complex and bureaucratic labyrinth,” he said.

Also read: Computer se andolan nahi hota: Congress on Shah and Gadkari’s ‘e-rallies’ in Bihar & MP


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  1. Sanjay Jha says that INTERNAL DEMOCRACY took a hit during Indira Gandhi’s tenure. So things were going from bad to worse all these years. This man seemed to be sailing smoothly with post-Indira Congress. He was barking much louder than necessary in many TV debates. Why then this sudden dismay…
    He has also indicated that he has no plans of joining BJP. Hence only altenative is to retire from politics. It will also be good for his health as he is recvering from Covid-19. Bye, Mr.Jha. I have always admired your English.

  2. The interview and the comments reflect a clear understanding of all that is very very wrong with Congress. BUT, NOTHING will ever change in that party. It is a conglomerate of sycophants and they are all trying hard to please Rahul and say only what he wants to hear.. Rahul himself only wants power without responsibility. The TEN YEARS Congress rule by proxy has left them with the greed for the power but with no fire in the belly for fighting to win it fairly and squarely in an election. Rahul only appears to want that Modi should ‘somehow’ vanish, leaving the field to him. He cannot “WORK” for it.

  3. Not only Gandhi family but the chamchas with criminal and fraudulent background surrounding them like Chidambaram, Sibal, Tharoor etc. should also be thrown out , if they wanted to revive the party, which is not going to happen in the near future. Hence the party will have a natural death by 2030 .Best option is to form a new party at National level by the younger lot from all states so that a constructive opposition is in place with in 10 years.

  4. The Print & Fatima Khan you just copied what TOI printed,The Print never has exclusive rights and like your backer the Congress Party you spread lies.Within next 2 general elections Congress will whither away with our stolen loot from treasury from where they amassed our money.

  5. If Sanjay Ja has to say all this, u can imagine the extent of frustration prevailing in Congress party. One thought this guy being so faithful, will sink with the captain!
    I wish this guy the very best in all his future endeavour

  6. “We need more internal democracy.” Also, “Sonia and Rahul are not at fault.” Wake up Congress.

  7. The raison de etre of the Congress is the worship of one family and not the nation. For every Congressman including Mr. Jha the family comes first, the party second and the country in the end. If the Congress has any desire to live on, then it needs to get rid of family dictatorship. Like in the past it needs to rediscover democracy, merit and discipline. It needs to empower competent individuals irrespective of any family affiliations. Is this going to happen? Right now the Congress in it’s devotion to family is gripped by a death wish.

  8. Had the author had her way, she would put Imran Khan as the PM of India. Her hatred for Modi is well documented. But has very little to cheer. Congress will be in hibernation for a very very long time and unless Modi or his party gets involved in any mega corruption, there is very little chance of Congress coming back. India had enough of appeasement and loot culture.

    • What loot culture are you talking about. Since Independence, India fought 4 wars 3 with Pakistan and One with China. Inspite of these wars which set back the progress, India still is a regional superpower. India had the 4th standing Army, 5th Airforce in the world, 2and Blur Navy, India joined the Space Group. The Congress governments have done their best by establishing ITIs, hospitals, universities, colleges, schools, roads, public sectors companies like Air India, Railways, HP, IOC, BP, BHEL, HAL and many others. Yes there was corruption but they paid a price by being out of rule. I am not a supporter of Congress but during my 50 years as an Indian the country has made great progress under Congress governments. To belittle its achievements shows how narrow minded the views are of those who oppose congress party.

  9. I think Sanjay Jha is correct. I have been writing that the Congress has to reinvent itself. Inner party elections -from the Village Panchayat level to the National level – must be held – and the leadership must be based on the consent of the party’s rank and file. This is not happening in the Congress because the vested interest at the top can not gain the endorsement from its own cadres in a free and fair poll. The party can be truly energised if that happens. Madam Sonia is ineffective because, among other things, she is not reportedly has health problems.

    • What is there to invent. Can congress survive without Gandhi rest r just puppets. Basically other people r behind Gandhi’s and not for congress for greed.

  10. It’s good that some people in the Congress think along these lines. For, we do require a strong opposition to hold the government to account. While I’m a BJP supporters, I strongly feel that the absence of a strong opposition is resulting in periodic drifting of policy initiatives. Merely doing interviews with experts in diverse fields, or, tweeting will make an opposition! The sooner that The Family starts thinking about the party and beyond their noses, the better. After all, no one is entirely good or bad. There are shades of grey!

  11. There is no need to shed tears for Congress demise. The demise of orgnisations is a ongoing process that takes time . The chance of congress party getting majority in any future national elections are equal to chances of British Union Jack hoisting again on Lal Quila in Delhi. Last time it got majority was 36 years ago in 1984. Stop wasting time on revival of dying party. Historically, old regimes are always replaced by new regimes when old regimes fail to meet the expectations of people. The Congress men/ women should join some other political parties or should form a new party that can take upon BJP in fourth decade of 21st century, say at least after 2040. Till then BJP is likely to rule India practically uncontested. If Indian voters can tolerate Congress with so many flaws and failures for 60-70 years , than why not they will vote for a nationalist and development oriented party . Past history and future trends are all clearly visible. Only one has to decipher those without being emotional on the death of a big dianosur of Indian political jungle -called Congress Party.
    Congress party .

  12. When a die hard blind supporter like Sanjay Jha feels disillusioned with the insipid leadership it yet again shows that there is no leadership material in the congress at all. And when there is a void at the top then its free for all at multiple levels in the organization. Congress uses these spokies with scant respect for their feelings. They have started a new stunt of these interviews which Raul conducts with people from various fields. This excercise itself seems to be so superficial and infact shows the personality in a demeaning light because Raul as we all know is not known for hia intelligence on any subject. He cant hold forth on any topic on his own and even with fed stories he goofs up. All this puts the guest in a seriously embarassing position. Also no one in congress is interested in working hard for the people. All they want is power and no responsibility. And this attitude is top driven as the recent incidents in Maharashtra show. With 12 ministers in Maharashtra cabinet congress President Rahul had the gall to say that his party is not responsible for the poor state of affairs in Maharashtra. With a irresponsible man like this at the helm and with a great track record of corruption and communalism why should anybody ever vote for the congress. No one should ever vote for this party which always puts Gandhi family above the nation.

  13. When Congress and Communists have warriors like Fatima Khan, Congress demise will only accelerate. When party bosses start believing that voters can be fooled through lies, fake news and conspiracies instead on hard work to help the voters, Congress and like minded parties like communists are bound to die sooner than later as these would be rejected by voters. Congress had been started by AO Hume, a non-Indian to serve British interest. Congress will die with an anti-national and Hindu hater Sonia Gandhi as its supreme leader.

  14. Finally the Congress is holding up a mirror to itself………… and it doesn’t like what it sees – for good reason.

    • Time has come for a Congressee to leave the party if they see only Rahul Gandhi, Priyaka Vadra and Sonia mata in the mirror.

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