India desperately needs a strong Opposition party. Sadly, Congress refuses to take that place. Its members always choose the Gandhi family’s wishes over their voters’.
On Wednesday (Oct.19), 80-year-old M. Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress party’s ‘consensus candidate’, beat 66-year-old Shashi Tharoor to be the new non-Gandhi Congress Party President in 27 years.
Only the old fat cats in Congress seem to be jubilant about the outcome of the so-called ‘democratic’ election. That’s probably because they all got fat, thanks to the benevolence of the Gandhis.
That is why senior Karnataka Congress MLA and former Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar, while protesting the ED’s interrogation of the Gandhis, said, “We have made enough for 3-4 generations in the name of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. If we can’t sacrifice this much, it won’t be good!”
The Congress had this election for their President not because they were democratic but because Rahul Gandhi’s claim to the Presidentship had become untenable after leading his party to two consecutive election losses.
So, the Gandhis and their obedient senior Congress leaders, instead of truly getting a new President who could revive the party, used the vacant President’s chair to manage internal power struggles or install another Manmohan Singh.
The Congress hoped to move Ashok Gehlot to Delhi so they could make space for Sachin Pilot in that State. This, they hoped, would stop the infighting in Rajasthan Congress. But it backfired spectacularly as Gehlot refused the offer. Gehlot realised it was better to be the Chief Minister of his State than a puppet in Delhi.
Next, they asked a few senior Congress leaders. All were reluctant until Mallikarjun Kharge agreed and was declared the ‘consensus’ candidate. One wonders why they did not choose a willing and well-qualified Shashi Tharoor as the consensus candidate.
Not just a willing candidate, Tharoor was the only candidate with a manifesto. Additionally, Tharoor is truly liberal and secular, unlike the pseudo-liberalism and pseudo-secularism practised by most senior Congressmen.
These traits of Tharoor would have helped Congress win back its lost vote bank to some extent — the youth and liberal urban Hindu middle-class.
Of course, Tharoor cannot win rural or, as he would call it, ‘cattle-class’ votes, but neither can Kharge. So then, why did they choose Kharge instead of Tharoor as the consensus candidate? Is it because Kharge understands Congress’ culture? Which is following orders from Madam?
Tharoor would not have taken orders from either Rahul or Sonia and, most certainly, would not have entertained the often unreasonable requests of senior Congress leaders. This made him untenable as a Congress consensus candidate.
That fact that not a single member of the G-23, a group of senior leaders of the Congress party, who wanted a more decisive Congress leadership, of which Tharoor was part, did not canvass for him is proof of their fear.
The Congress party does not care about losing good leaders for the sake of Gandhis. And the Gandhis, it seems, would rather lose power than lose control over their leaders. This is a terrible strategy, and Congress is paying the price for it with every passing election.
The list of able leaders who left Congress because of the Gandhis and Congress’ old guard is long — From Mamata Banerjee, who left Congress to form the Trinamool Congress, which now rules Bengal, to Sharad Pawar of NCP, which until recently ruled Maharashtra. From Jagan of the YSR Congress, who now heads Andhra, to Himanta Biswa Sarma, who not only delivered Assam to BJP but also gave a solid foothold for BJP in Northeast India.
In a more glaring example, the Congress party recruited a promising young leader Hardik Patel in Gujarat two years ago. When asked about his political future in Congress, Patel said, “In Congress, you get to bat after fielding.” Two years later, Hardik joined the BJP!
Guess Hardik Patel got tired of fielding while his ex-President Rahul Gandhi keeps batting even when he is not scoring any runs. Worse, Rahul sometimes leaves his teammates confused about who the captain is, like he did with his Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Why is Rahul leading a long and hyper-publicity yatra in the middle of an election for his Party’s Presidentship? Could he not wait for the President to be elected and then have the yatra with the new President leading it? No, Because…
Rahul still wants to be the face of Congress. Rahul wants power without accountability. He has failed twice already, and now he has found a way to keep the strike, but if he can’t score, then the substitute will take the blame.
In Congress, loyalty to the family is supreme, not performance. But Congress must not fear good and aspiring leaders. Gandhis should stop seeing them as a threat.
Rahul Gandhi had a chance to promote Shashi Tharoor, Sachin Pilot and Milind Deora directly into the Congress Working Committee (CWC), but he did not.
He had an opportunity to promote Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia, the young leaders who delivered in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, but he did not. Today Scindia is in BJP, and Pilot is sulking and mulling about an exit.
Congress must realise that Rahul Gandhi is becoming a Political Peter Pan — never growing up to lead decisively. If the Congress has to survive, and survive it must, then the Gandhis must take a backseat or exit.
If Congress has to come back, it has to amputate self-centred old leaders; they have become gangrenous, the Gandhis included. Else they will have to wait for voters to get disgusted with BJP and vote for Congress.
To have a healthy democracy, we need a strong Opposition party; right now, only Congress can fill that void. So, Congress workers choose — and choose now — Democracy or Gandhis? If the answer is “Madam’s family”, then you are doomed, and so are we.
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