Monday, February 6, 2023
HomePoliticsRahul's favourites have asphyxiating control over him, says Congress ex-spokesperson Sanjay Jha

Rahul’s favourites have asphyxiating control over him, says Congress ex-spokesperson Sanjay Jha

In an interview to ThePrint, Sanjay Jha, former national spokesperson of the Congress, has said the party needs to learn from BJP how to be 'hungry and ambitious'.

Text Size:

New Delhi: Referring to Rahul Gandhi as a “wonderful and likeable human being”, Sanjay Jha, former national spokesperson of the Congress party, says the ex-party president has surrounded himself with favorites who end up having an “asphyxiating control over him”.

“As a person, Rahul is fabulous. Everyone who meets him will tell you he is a likeable, wonderful human being. But the other fact, that all leaders get sucked into, is that their favorites become a caucus and that caucus in turn ends up having an asphyxiating control over their leader,” Jha told ThePrint in an interview.

“Because all of them are so invested in their own career, they are willing to let the party go to the dogs as long as their interests are served,” he added.

Jha, whose new book titled ‘The Great Unravelling: India after 2014’ will be released next week, was sacked as the national spokesperson of the Congress in June. This was after he called for introspection in the party and accused it of having become “fossilised” and having a “laid-back approach.”

He was subsequently suspended from the party a month later, in July.

Also read: Rahul ready to rebuild party, leaders want Chintan Shivirs — what transpired at Sonia’s meeting

‘Rahul means well’

Jha said while the former Congress president meant well, the problem was that he never took his ideas to a logical conclusion.

“I think Rahul means so well. One of his best statements was when he was asked that Modi keeps calling for a Congress-mukt Bharat, but if you win tomorrow would you want an RSS-mukt Bharat, and he said no. He said all ideologies need to co-exist. That was the statement of a statesman,” Jha said.

However, he added that the problem lay in Rahul Gandhi’s execution.

“The problem with him is that he doesn’t take the big ideas to their logical conclusion. After the 2019 Lok Sabha defeat, he would say I fought this battle alone. I think he is wrong. For the leader of the party to say I fought this battle alone is absurd. We fought under his leadership, we adhered to what you said. For god sake, don’t say you did it alone,” Jha added.

‘BJP is always hungry, and never exhausted’

Jha further said he admires the work ethic of BJP leaders, and how they are always hungry to win.

“The one thing I have learnt in politics is that we must learn from our opponents. The BJP has an indefatigable spirit, they are never exhausted. They are hungry, ambitious, take no prisoners. How can I have anything against their work ethic? If they believe in winning every election, how can I sit here and complain about that?” Jha asked.

He said that the culture of a party is determined by the leader of the party.

“Look at Modi, he is aggressive, so BJP is aggressive. He is talking big ideas, and so, BJP is risk-taking,” he said.

“I do agree that today BJP is a two-person rule. But I have to give them concessions. They have a J.P. Nadda, they have had a Nitin Gadkari, a Rajnath Singh. It has allowed people to become presidents. Who had heard of Devendra Fadnavis? But they give people a chance,” Jha said.

Also read: NSUI chief Ruchi Gupta resigns, ‘blames’ KC Venugopal for delay in state unit appointments

‘Congress needs to get its hands dirty’

Jha said the Congress needs to put in a lot more effort to fight the “machine politics” of the BJP.

“They have the funds, they have the resources, they are in the government. They have done a media capture, it is an asymmetrical warfare, a lopsided fight. So to actually challenge them, we need to be hungry,” Jha said.

Jha added that BJP president J.P. Nadda is travelling across the country, when the Congress is working out of Delhi.

“The age where we could sit in Delhi and win any election is over, the Congress needs to get its hands dirty. Congress’ inability to fight back is, in my opinion, condemnable. You are an opposition party, you cannot be sulking in a corner because you lost. There is nothing wrong in putting up a great fight and losing. But going into retreat or withdrawing, that is unacceptable.”

‘Sad that Congress doesn’t do enough to fight for minorities’

Jha, however, dismissed the possibility of him ever joining the BJP.

“It is out of the question, I am a true believer in a secular, liberal, tolerant and inclusive India,” Jha said.

He said he feels disappointed that Congress doesn’t do enough to fight for the rights of minority communities.

“It is sad that just because the BJP mocks secularism, Congress doesn’t fight enough for minorities,” Jha said, adding that as the opposition, it was the Congress’ responsibility to lead the charge.

Jha said the Congress has to decide if it wants to walk on Mahatma Gandhi’s path, or play “opportunistic janeu-dhari politics”, in a reference to Congress General Secretary Randeep Surjewala’s 2017 assertion.

“You cannot fight the BJP under their rules of the game. If you want to do that, you have to stop pretending you are liberal or secular, then you join the Hindutva bandwagon and fight it out. And you are going to lose, by the way,” Jha said.

Also read: Discontent, dissent & defiance in Congress as Gandhi family begins to lose grip on party

‘UPA’s political communication was pathetic’

Jha, in his book, has also written about Rahul Gandhi’s interview with Arnab Goswami in 2014, who was then the editor of Times Now news channel.

Jha said the decision to give that interview to Goswami, known to be a Congress-critic, was an “error in terrible judgment”.

”When Rahul went to Arnab’s show, many of us believed he should have been better prepared. I remember there was a PR firm that was hired, and that PR’s specialist flew in from the US and gave Rahul some SOPs to follow, but they were not adhered to,” Jha said.

Jha said the interview was a “monumental disaster” in retrospect.

“The truth is that it was an error in terrible judgment and someone in the Congress party should have had the courage to say we gave Rahul a wrong recommendation,” Jha said.

The former party spokesperson added that UPA always performed better than it was perceived to, but its “political communication was pathetic.”

Also read: Many in Congress will agree with Pranab Mukherjee’s view on leadership but won’t speak up


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. This party owned by Sonia is a family party. From indra Gandhi day it is a family affair. ORIGINAL INC SPLIT IN 1969

  2. In the video post on YOuTube, Sanjay Jha said that he is not going to join BJP as it is ideologically different. That he believes in secular and inclusive India. Look at BJP, especially at State level. It is absorbing people from opposition parties incuding congress. Hardly anyone of them subscribes to BJP’s ideology. The way BJP came to power in Karnataka with the support of MLAs who totally lack any kind of ideology is the best example of this perspective. BJP has clearly distinguished its ideological objectives and political objectives. It is no longer a disciplined cadre based party it was, about twenty years back. The way congress is still adhering to its “appointments” culture, its only futures “down”. An articulate person like Sanjay Jha is wasting his time waiting for congress to change. He will end up either reitring from politics, or joining a regional party.

  3. These guys are so corrupt & incompetent that even 1.5 years after the 2019 election defeat these morons haven’t been able to “elect” their “leader”.
    It’s laughable. This “first family” has destroyed the oldest political party of the country.

  4. This is a classic case of sycophancy. Rahul is wonderful, Rahul did no wrong, ‘they’ advised him wrongly, some American PR agent messed up Rahul’s interview, etc. We can actually see the real problem very clearly here. The takeaway, then, is that Rahul cannot even manage his own immediate coterie of 10-12 people, so he should definitely not take on the rough and tumble of managing the world’s largest democracy of 1.4 billion people. But more wicked is Jha acting the martyr, a great fallen honourable dissenter, who in fact is doing what he accuses other congressis of doing – serving their own interests by creating vague responsibility points for all that ails Congress and pandering to Rahul.

  5. Honest opinions cannot be expressed when people are so invested in their own career that they are willing to let the party go to the dogs as long as their interests are served.
    A “wonderful and likeable human being” has surrounded himself with favorites who end up having an “asphyxiating control over him.

Comments are closed.

Most Popular