With the continued drubbing in electoral politics, the voices of dissent are increasing within the Congress party. Whether the Grand Old Party of Bharat will respond to the crisis situation or again hide itself in the 'save family' mode is the critical question...
The party headquarters’ of any national party normally attracts workers, dignitaries, officials, Members of the Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies from across the nation to Delhi in the case of any election win. A rout always leaves headquarters in deserted and shamble look. But recent drubbing in four State Assembly elections has reversed the normal pattern of push and pull for Congress. These days, many Congress stalwarts, old warriors along with workers and young aspirants can be seen making rounds at its Akbar Road headquarter in Delhi. They are coming here either to save their own position in the party or to vent their pent up feelings against the first family of Congress or against the leaders who have surrounded the first family. Routs of Assam and Kerala Assembly elections have shattered the Congressmen from inside. Writing are on the wall for a complete rejig in the organisational structure and everyone wants a booty in the coming change.
Many leaders are raising voice
Earlier any voice of Opposition was always dealt with stern hands however this time the mood within the party is boiling. Every second leader who has some suggestions for the president or vice president is free to float his/her anguish or suggestions without any repercussions. Members of the Parliament Shashi Tharoor and Abhishek Singhvi, Party General Secretary Digvijay Singh, former Tribal and Panchayti Raj Affairs Minister Kishor Chandra Deo, former Law and Petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily and a Rajya Sabha Member Satyavrat Chaturvedi are few among those leaders who have openly expressed their suggestions keeping their focus on leaders who are close to the top family and are enjoying plum positions in the organisation.
Same set of faces
“Though demands are being raised to overhaul the organisational structure and to replace old faces by new and young leaders since the rout of 2014 Lok Sabha elections, yet somehow old warriors were able to retain their chairs with some minor changes or cuts,” said a Congress leader anonymously, who wants to play an good inning in party. Whenever Congress president or vice president reshuffles the pack of old set of lot only some minor changes are done . “If you see the past past record of the Congress Party you will notice that the same set of faces have occupied the chairs in the organisation. After every loss of election, general secretary in-charge gets a new responsibility and new office in 24 Akbar Road,” said a prominent leader of Congress, who on many occasions had also expressed his wisdom openly through social media.
Like this leader two more former ministers of UPA along with Digvijay Singh had come forward to suggest their pills for ailment to party president Sonia Gandhi. While Singh suggested “major surgery”, Kishore Chandra Deo and M Veerappa Moily called to fix accountability for the losing base of party. Similarly former Minister of State in the Ministry of HRD and Foreign Affairs Shashi Tharoor expressed dismay after party lost his home State, Kerala. ”The time for introspection is now past. Time for action has come……..for a couple of years after 2014, the process for consideration, reflection, introspection and so on has been taking place. It is time for the leadership to draw on the conclusion from their introspection and take necessary action,” said Tharoor.
Why this crescendo of
Year 2014 was the worst year in the annals of the Grand Old Party of the country. It reached the ebb of graph of seats won in any election of the Lok Sabha. Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi drove the party in Lower House with 424 (vote share 48.12 per cent) seats riding on the sympathy wave which had gripped the nation after gruesome assassination of Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi . In 2014, when Congress had touched the lowest point of its telly with just 44 seats, vote share also touched below 20 per cent mark. In fact, its downfall has been started since 2013. It has lost Assembly elections of Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Congress was in power in 17 states along with Centre before the year 2014.Many leaders in their private talks also laments about the fate of the party in coming years. “After humiliating debacle of 2014 Lok Sabha no tangible steps were taken to put party back on track. The AICC has not met for over two years. For every quarry about the rout, party refers to the A K Antony Committee report. Source in the party indicates that this committee has not submitted any report till date. In this sense, the committee is also known as ant-heen committee (endless committee) . However, Congress officially maintains that Report was compiled and given to the Congress President. Any other common Congress man has not seen this report so far.
Despite all these uproar for reforms in the organisational edifice, not a single voice is being heard against the members of Nehru Gandhi family. Defending first family Moily said both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi couldn’t be held responsible for the losses. “How can you blame Soniaji or Rahulji? They may not have been given the correct picture by the General Secretary concerned. What can they do then?” Senior spokesperson of party Abhishek Singhvi went a step further to defend the leadership. In response to a question raised about various suggestions, he said there was no gag order against any suggestion provided; they are aimed at destabilising the party by aiming “unifocal look” at the top leaders. Except Puducherry, where party has gained reins of power, it has lost power in Assam and Kerala and able to retain second position in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu with alliance partners.
Another theory is roaming around behind the rout in the recently concluded Assembly election in the party. It says the leadership is busy in saving its skin form the burns of National Herald and Augusta Westland cases. Top leaders have been entangled in the vicious circle of corruption in these cases.
Clearly a state of trust deficit has come in Congress. Situation has reached to such a low level that a State unit of party forced its newly elected legislatures to file a 100 rupees bond to show their loyalty towards Sonia and Rahul. Perhaps, this is because those who are holding posts in AICC are busy to police their politics and position. No one seems to bother about the party.
To explain his point, a senior journalist said after the conference held in AICC headquarters, on the occasion of second anniversary of Modi government, “In the age of super technology if you can not impress your audience, supporters and voters in first attempt then you will be nowhere in electoral battlefield. Despite repeatedly accepting publicly your inability to market your views against Modi’s strategy, still the party has not made any serious attempts to cover up the deficit area. Presentation and tagline of media campaign were not impressive. On the other hand, top leadership of BJP personally monitors each and every thing of publicity minutely.”
Congress Party is clearly grappling with the trust deficit crisis for which it needs to review the structures, strategies and roles. Inevitably, the role of ‘first family’ within the party will be under scrutiny. Who will bell the cat is a critical dilemma for the main national Opposition Party.
(The writer is a senior journalist )