India: With speculation rife that top Congress leader Kamal Nath is going to switch sides, his party says that the leader has no such plans Image Credit: ANI

“Mrs. Indira Gandhi called Kamal Nath her third son. How can he leave the Congress?”

Will he, won’t he speculation buzzed all weekend on whether 77-year-old former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and Gandhi family loyalist Kamal Nath would jump the fast-sinking Congress ship for the safe harbour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

As the flood of Congress leaders rushing to the BJP turns into a deluge, workers, and most importantly, voters are entitled to wonder why the Congress is imploding. Every day, a senior leader quits, and those who remain indulge in familiar abuse “traitor,” “coward fearing arrest by the agencies such as Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and Income Tax.”

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All these reasons have a kernel of truth but are not the complete picture. A wise voter will certainly put the main question, which is that while these leaders were in the Congress, the alleged corruption was acceptable. And why is political corruption acceptable across party lines when these leaders cross the floor to the treasury benches?

While Kamal Nath kept the media and the political word guessing, sending out mixed signals, consider this: a certain billionaire has now become the most active player in politics and in getting leaders to switch to the BJP. As speculation grew, so did rumours of two more Congress leaders, Manish Tiwari and Navjot Singh Sidhu, crossing over swirled.

None of this will be breaking news to SWAT Analysis readers. But Kamal Nath, before the suspect switch, was a staunch Gandhi family loyalist, as the aforementioned Mrs. Gandhi’s “third son” allusion will indicate. He worked closely with the late Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, and tried and failed to work with Rahul Gandhi.

Lacking in political smarts

At nearly 80 and bogged down with ill health, Kamal Nath couldn’t realistically be expecting a new starry political innings. So why did he even think of switching? The answer to that exposes the rot at the heart of the Congress party.

It is easy now to peddle conspiracy theories, as is being done on social media, that Kamal Nath was sabotaging the party in the recently held MP assembly elections where he was the Congress CM face. But it is a ludicrous charge, and if the Congress was aware that they had a saboteur in the ranks, why did they entrust the full election to him, including candidate selection and campaigning?

To put it rudely, are you really that lacking in political smarts? And if you are, what exactly are you still doing in politics? A political party exists for only one purpose: to win elections and use political power. The Congress has not done either of that recently.

Simply put, the Congress leaders who are still looking for a future in politics are leaving in droves because they believe Modi is invincible and Rahul Gandhi, their former Congress President, can’t win them any elections.

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Why should they fight the BJP?

That is where the Congress Party, India’s oldest political party, is currently, with two months to go for general elections. The regional opposition parties, such as Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi Party, don’t take it seriously as a leader of the opposition.

Sonia Gandhi, the longest-serving President, leaving her Lok Sabha seat of Rai Bareli for a Rajya Sabha seat from Rajasthan to ensure she retains her Lutyens bungalow, is the writing on the wall being read by the Congress leaders. If a Gandhi doesn’t have the stomach for an electoral battle, then why should they fight the BJP?

Equally clear is the BJP and Modi paradox. The BJP claimed to have an ideological purity, an alternative idea of India, while the Modi government is possibly the purest ideological government. It is now also heavy with Congress leaders who Modi attacked as “corrupt” and “dynastic.”

The cadre and the Sangh are quiet because the Prime Minister wins them elections, but as the rewards go to outsiders, this may change the moment of a big loss. The BJP is undoubtedly now a haven for Congress leaders.

The Congress, the big umbrella party of India, is imploding, and the BJP is now a magnet for Congress leaders, which will have its consequences for politics.

As for Kamal Nath, watch this space.