Tussle between Old Guard and newbies in Congress preventing decision
New Delhi: Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi refuses to unshackle the Congress of the dynasty and its sycophants. As such, the ‘zamindars’ who dominate the back rooms of the amorphous Congress party are similarly unwilling to cede ground.
Sonia Gandhi and the Old Guard want to retain control over the narrative. For 38 days since May 25 when Rahul Gandhi handed in his resignation to the Congress Working Committee, this drama has played out with Gandhi Junior acolytes like Randeep Surjewala remaining in denial, unwilling to accept that the Prince or King has run away from his would-be coronation.
This unwillingness on both sides of the divide – Old Guard and Young Turks – in accepting that Rahul Gandhi doesn’t want to continue has created confusion and dissonance. The ‘zamindars and jagirdars’ on both sides of the divide don’t want to lose operational control. Sonia Gandhi wants to use her trusted team to retain power over the apparatus while Rahul Gandhi’s depleted team of newbies wants to exert the control that it had managed to get since he was appointed party president.
The situation is now so precarious that since the old won’t relent and the new don’t want to give up, it is Catch-22. The logical way forward for the Congress would be to cut the umbilical cord with the past at this crucial juncture, but the hangers-on and power brokers with wide and varied deep-rooted interests will not let go. To start afresh, a younger leadership team has to be installed to provide a fresh direction and impetus to what is clearly a beleaguered and embattled realm — a realm which cannot distance itself from its own hoary past, nor can it accept reality as it unfolds.
A resurgent BJP has come back to power on the back of Hindu nationalism and jingoism, a majority government with a majoritarianism embeded in it, one that has understood the dynamic at the bottom of the pyramid. It is voted back to power because it has delivered on a unique populist development model.
Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot would be the two most obvious names from the Young Turks to emerge from this Congress apocalypse. Scindia, unfortunately lost, while Pilot has won earlier as an MLA and is Deputy Chief Minister in Rajasthan. Of the names being bandied about – Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mukul Wasnik and Mallikarjun Kharge, none inspires confidence as a national leader who can electioneer across the country and garner votes for the hobbled Congress.
A new president assisted by a slew of vice-presidents who represent regional aspirations and consideration should be the way forward. Rebuilding the party with renewed vigour has to be the focus, not holding on to petty territiories. If the Congress has to play the role of a genuine opposition since bipolarity is the lifeblood of democracy, it has to reinvent itself and not hold on to the baggage of the past.