THE GRAND OLD Party of India, the 135 year old Indian National Congress, appears to be on the path to self-destruction. Even the die-hard supporters of the party, which has ruled the country for 60 years, have begun to wonder if the party with its present leadership or the lack of it has any future.
The exit of a promising young leader of the party, Jyotiradha Scindia, is the latest in the series of party stalwarts leaving the party. What is really unfathomable is the fact that the rudderless party, with no clear leadership or clarity over various issues, continues to remain arrogant. Treating such potential leaders as Jyotiradha with disdain and not accepting his basic demand to be nominated to Rajya Sabha after losing his claim to chief ministership of Madhya Pradesh proved to be the proverbial last straw.
Prior to his departure the party had seen a host of former chief ministers, former president of state units and former union ministers deserting the party during the last couple of years.
Despite the one way traffic of leaders away from Congress, the party remains in a mess.
Sonia Gandhi is the interim president after the farce of an election for party presidentship and many believe she is keeping the seat warm for the eventual return of her son Rahul Gandhi as the president.
Rahul has had a disastrous run over the last about 15 years of his political career and has been consistently refusing to learn. Most party leaders appear to have given up on him but the sycophants and others with slavish mentality don’t find any alternative to him.
That the elections held last year for party presidentship were a farce is clear from the fact that none of the prominent young leaders of the party, including Jyotiradya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora or even leaders like P Chidambaram and Shashi Tharoor, who had the potential to give a new lease of life to the party, were encouraged to contest the election.
Some little known leaders were propped up, evidently who could pose no threat to Rahul Gandhi, and they could not secure even two per cent of votes at the election.
Rahul Gandhi, who had publicly declared that he was not running for the post of president of the party, appears to be slowly getting convinced that he was born to lead the party. All important decisions of the party emanate from the residence of Sonia Gandhi who is surrounded by the old guard who want no opposition to Rahul Gandhi.
They don’t seem to realise that while credit can not be taken away from Prime minister Narendra Modi for the stellar victory of his party in Lok Sabha elections, having Rahul Gandhi as his main political rival was a significant contributory factor for the victory.
The later was just no match to Modi and people were left with practically no choice.
Jyotiradia Scindia’s exit has paved the way for BJP getting back to power in Madhya Pradesh where the BJP has lost by a thin margin.
The BJP has also wrested back Karnataka and could do the same in Rajasthan where there is well-known tussle between chief minister Ashok Gehlot and deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot who is regarded as a mature and capable leader who can lead the party in future.
But for the congress party to have a future, it shall have to undergo a complete overhaul including a new leadership at the centre and empowering regional leaders. It just cannot rest on its past laurels or believe that its past glory can ensure that it can always survive.
*(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.)
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