Sushmita Deb
Former Congress MP Sushmita Deb has quit the party and joined Trinamool Congress Image Credit: ANI

“Another one bites the dust” — a message from a young restless Congress leader, chafing without power, was delivered to my phone on a commercial encryption app. Ever since my name appeared in a snooping scandal and forensics confirmed that my phone had been “hijacked” by the Pegasus spyware, this is how people communicate with me.

The leader he referred to was a young heirloom politician — Susmita Deb — whose father Santosh Mohan Deb had been a union minister in the Congress government. Susmita Deb was the chief of the Congress women’s morcha. Just two days ago, she had met Rahul and Sonia Gandhi along with the newly appointed Assam Congress team.

Deb has joined Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) in a cold and calculated move. She created suspense by changing her Twitter bio and then voila, the exit. Deb had thrown serial tantrums during the Assam elections and had been publicly placated by the Gandhi family.

I can tell my regular SWAT analysis readers that Deb will be made Assam and Tripura in-charge by the TMC and in the unlikely event of TMC winning the elections, she has been promised that she will be the face for Assam Chief Minister (CM).

A spate of defections

Deb has defected to an opposition party, much like Mahua Moitra, leaving the Congress in search of better opportunities. After the 2019 defeat, several heirloom leaders, pampered and made much of by the Gandhi family, have done what can only be called an ideological somersault and pole vaulted themselves in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The list starts with defector-turned-Assam-CM, Himanta Sarma Biswa, Jyotiraditya Scindia, who defected a year ago, bringing down the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh and was rewarded with a Rajya seat and the Cabinet portfolio of Civil Aviation, once held by his late father Madhavrao Scindia (under Congress government).

Scindia was followed by Jitin Prasada, another heirloom politician, son of the late Jitendra Prasada. Junior Prasad had been given many golden opportunities by the Congress. He was made much of and made a minister. Prasada kept getting ticket after ticket despite serial electoral defeats.

Will loyalty be finally rewarded?

Another young leader who is on the bolters list told Gulf News, “I am going to stick around despite several offers in the hope that my loyalty is rewarded”. He claimed that Deb had rushed in the waiting arms of the TMC because “you know how it is when an opportunity comes up. Only people with tremendous staying power will resist.”

Foolishly, we, the voters, believe that politics is an battle of competing ideologies. If you consider the deluge from the Congress to the BJP and the ruling party welcoming them with open arms and giving them plum portfolios and the goodies of office, it is no such thing.

The BJP took great pride in being a cadre-based ideological party, yet in its zeal to wrest West Bengal from Banerjee, it opened its doors wide to all defectors. The main defector, Suvendhu Adhikari, is the BJP face in Bengal. So much for ideology.

Most of the TMC turncoats led by Mukul Roy, attracted by the power and pelf of government, have done a “ghar wapsi” (home coming) to TMC.

All the Rahul men (and women)

The Gandhi family which made much of the young leaders, all with silver spoon backgrounds, who were in the same age group as Rahul Gandhi.

They were given the pick of seats and plum ministries. Leaders like Sachin Pilot who is now restless, post his rebellion, at least worked in Rajasthan for six years to bring the Congress back to power. The other Generation-next leaders did practically nothing.

They thought power and office was their birthright and after two general election defeats, the lost boys who once made up team Rahul Gandhi, decided that struggle was not for them. Politics for them is a day in the office and they cannot live without the fruits of office. The only ideology they have is “me, me, me” and “more, more, more”.

Bitter after serial betrayals from his core group, Rahul Gandhi recently said that anybody who has Sangh ideology or is scared to fight the BJP should leave the Congress party.

Gandhi, whatever is other faults, is certainly the main leader who is taking on the Sangh, the BJP and Narendra Modi and Amit Shah on every occasion. He is right to be embittered but the question is his judgement in promoting a bunch of leaders, who even while in the Congress, did not give him full support in his fight against the BJP.

Congress High Command

These leaders consider politics a family business and are nonchalant in changing brand position. The somersaulting lot was uncomfortable with making personal allegations on Modi, perhaps always keeping the exit door ajar.

Quips a BJP leader, who is watching the queue of Congress leaders seeking admission in to his party, “finally only three people can be counted on to stay on in the Congress and fight the BJP ideologically and they are the three Gandhi family members — Sonia and her two children. They will never compromise with the Sangh ideology”.

Earlier the BJP frowned upon dynasty politics with Venkiah Naidu’s famous comment “dynasty is nasty”. In BJP 2.0, dynasties are welcome as long as they damage the Gandhi family. The BJP is now tenderly growing its own mini dynasties in politics.

Gandhi family too is learning a hard lesson about turncoats in search of power. This is a teachable moment for us, the voters as well. There is no ideology as compelling as the pursuit of power and some Indian leaders shall continue to be champion ideological pole vaulters.