- The Congress today is in a crisis of ideology and approach.
- The few mass leaders who remain in the ruthless durbar culture are frustrated and upset.
“A Gandhi is a liability in today’s day and age. Rahul Gandhi is a flop because he is not humble enough to start from the bottom. He wants to be Prime Minister. He must prove himself, which his arrogance won’t allow.”
This is not the sophisticated spin of Lutyens Delhi, but the unadorned blunt take of one of India’s most successful athletes on the Gandhi family, its heir and the Congress party.
The diagnosis continues: Rahul Gandhi needs to go through a communications work shop, his body language is awful and his speaking tone terrible, adds the athlete. This is a relevant point as Gandhi tries to project himself as an angry and macho alternative to Modi.
Gandhi did try and pitch himself in a sort of “love guru” avatar with that famous hug of Modi in the Lok Sabha, but like most things with Rahul it was a temporary phase. With three Gandhis in active politics, mother Sonia and siblings Rahul and Priyanka, the party has never looked so top heavy and so lacking in any genuine leadership.
Consider the recent debacle of the Congress in Delhi, where it drew a duck for the second time running. This is a state which the late Sheila Dikshit ruled for three terms. And what did the Congress do this time around? It gave the BJP and the newbie AAP a walkover.
Worse, P. Chacko, a rootless durbari genuflecting at the altar of the Gandhi family, who was the Congress in-charge for Delhi, tried to destroy Dikshit’s reputation by trying to pin the blame on her.
This is the same scenario, state after state, as the Gandhi family encourages rootless wonders to call the shots while mass leaders seethe in frustration.
It has now become a routine for gen next leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia to go public on the desperate need for introspection and reinvention. Unfortunately no one is listening.
Post the Delhi debacle, former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram gloated over AAP’s landslide on social media when he was sharply contradicted by Sharmistha Mukherjee daughter, of former president Pranab Mukherjee. These days the only political battles the Congress party fights are restricted to social media.
Yet, the Congress has, as pointed out by former Congress minister Jairam Ramesh, the arrogance of still being ministers despite being out of office for six years. Ramesh said the crisis in the party was worse than the corona virus. Again, no one is listening.
It is not that the Congress as a responsible Opposition does not have a host of genuine issues to raise. The economy is imploding, a huge job crisis faces the Modi government, which has no end game in mind for its controversial Kashmir lockdown. Modi’s moves on the religious filter in the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) have put him in conflict with the Constitution.
Yet, if you go by the Congress’s inconsistent and weak opposition to Modi’s contentious policies it is as if Modi cannot be held to account for his actions.
The ruthless durbar
The Congress today is in a crisis of ideology and approach. The few mass leaders who remain in the ruthless durbar culture are frustrated and upset. They see the Gandhi leadership providing no road map back to power. And make no mistake, the Congress needs the glue of power to keep itself in business.
Modi has four years of his term left and the Congress already seems fatigued at being the Opposition. Consider its suicidal moves. Rahul Gandhi vetoed a Congress-AAP alliance for the Lok Sabha election, which might have yielded some seats out of the seven Delhi parliamentary seats. Yet the congress was content not even contesting the Delhi elections.
The regional players such as Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal Chief Minister, Sharad Pawar, NCP chief and Navin Patnaik, Orissa Chief Minister, make no secret of their unease with accepting Gandhi’s leadership. Worse Gandhi has never tried to build a working relationship with regional satraps.
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Till today India does not really know what Gandhi stands for. He refused to be part of the Manmohan Singh Cabinet and hence has zero administrative experience on his curriculum vitae. Gandhi with his absentee landlord attitude managed to even lose his traditional family bastion of Amethi to Smriti Irani.
Gandhi keeps talking of the politics of love he practises as opposed to Modi’s hate politics, but again there is telling inconsistency - Gandhi had publicly humiliated Singh as prime minister by ripping up an ordinance brought by his government to help Lalu Prasad Yadav contest elections despite the criminal charges against him.
So what is Gandhi? An angry middle aged man? He will soon turn 50. As Gandhi is slated to takeover as the Congress president again, the country and the Congress are both hoping for answers.
Perhaps, the best answer is to abdicate and allow someone with hunger to take on Modi.