For a party that was meant to modernise India, bring equality of opportunity in political office, usher in progressive politics and pioneer policy driven democratic contests, the Congress party, ironically has turned out to be the most medieval of India’s major political parties. It has ended up in a state of dynastical dependency, the likes of which may be found in some underdeveloped countries like Syria and previously in Bangladesh. Even Pakistan appears to have kicked the habit.
Is it time for a rebellion in the 132-year-old Congress as highly experienced and competent potential leaders such as Shashi Tharoor and P Chidambaram look on helplessly like sycophants in North Korea’s Kim Jung dynasty?
Even more surprising is that some its members who served in top international institutions, such as Dr Manmohan Singh of World Bank and Shashi Tharoor (Asst Secy Gen) of UN, subserviently bow to the most shameless monopoly of power in democratic India. Even African countries have left behind this form of politics. One has just to look at the admirable way that Zimbabweans kicked out strong man Mugabe when he tried to pass on power within the family.
Over the years the dynasty, actively aided by sycophants, has systematically sidelined capable leaders and popular regional leaders. That is one major reason for the party losing one state after another. The exceptions, like Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh or Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh, survived because they threatened to walk out of the party. Even in the ongoing Gujarat elections, the party sought to cut the wings of its state stalwart, Shankersinh Vaghela, who quit and has formed his own party.
Even as the party is playing out the farce of holding ‘elections’ for the new president of the party, it would a unique chapter in world history where a General who had led his forces to a chain of defeats is anointed the King.
The party, which ruled the country for about 60 years and created a record by bagging over 400 Lok Sabha seats under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi, is now reduced to 44. The only two major states it is ruling are Karnataka and Punjab besides three smaller states.
But it is the insistence of the party to practice servile politics and its inability to move out of the dynastic politics that remains its Achilles heel. Despite having a host of experienced and capable leaders and young dynamic leaders as Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia, the party is unable to hold together without a Nehru-Gandhi scion.
Rahul Gandhi, who has been in active politics for a decade and a half, has not been able to carve a place for himself by merit. Nor has he led campaigns which had resulted in the party regaining lost territories. Yet there is a race among the senior leaders of the party to anoint him the party chief to replace his ailing mother Sonia Gandhi. Top party leaders tried to out do each other in filing nomination papers in favour of Rahul. It is an embarrassing sight to see intellectuals like Tharoor following behind the order like a bridesmaid.
No less than former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh and his former senior colleague in the cabinet, Chidambaram have signed nomination papers in his favour. In another set of papers senior leader like Sushil Kumar Shinde and Anand Sharma have put in their signatures. Senior party leader in Parliament Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge, members of the Congress Working Committee and AICC general secretaries have filed three or four sets of papers. Even Capt Amarinder Singh said he was ‘honoured’ to file nomination papers for Rahul Gandhi.
Obviously it is not that these leaders don’t want to take a chance and ensure that even if some nomination papers are rejected, Rahul’s candidature is not put into jeopardy. Most are there to mark their presence. A total of 89 sets of papers were filed in favour of Rahul Gandhi by top leaders of the party as against 56 sets filed for his mother Sonia Gandhi before she took over as party president in 2010.
Ironically so far there is no one else in the fray to contest against Rahul and even if someone dares to do it, he would do it at at his own peril.
With Modi Government already showing signs of strain with widespread criticism over demonetisation and roll out of GST, there is no guarantee that it is on for a long haul. Therefore the biggest question everyone asking is : What’s the alternative ? Is it Rahul Gandhi led Congress ? Most squirm at that option.
At a time when India faces huge international challenges such next door Chinese emergence asa world power, Pakistan’s continuing terrorism, American interest increasing in the region, the last thing India can afford is an immature inexperienced leader. It is time for saner elements in Congress to speak out and think of the nation instead of the family.