Senior Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor who expressed concern that the uncertainty existing in Congress party now is frustrating, has also stated openly that the lack of clarity in leadership has let down party workers and sympathisers.
Tharoor's comments have triggered reactions for and against it. While leaders AK Antony, KC Venugopal and Mullappally Ramachandran have rejected his remarks and consoled that Congress will soon have a new president, none of them has been able to contradict on the basis of facts what Shashi Tharoor, a close colleague of Rahul Gandhi said for the simple reason that his statement pointed to an undeniable fact. Rahul Gandhi who relinquished the post accepting full responsibility for the electoral setback, has stuck to his position spurning the persistent pressure from the Congress Working Committee and the state units of the party. He has reiterated not only that he is not going to be president, but no one from Nehru family should be elected to the post of president either. And his mother Sonia and sister Priyanka have also declared solidarity with him on this. Regardless of the merit or otherwise of this position, Shashi Tharoor is evidently upset by the question how long the party can move forward without a leader that actually leads.
What strikes one more is that all this uncertainty exists when incidents keep happening one after the other that should shake Congress. The latest in that series happened in Karnataka, where the JDS-Congress coalition, which had come to power raising hopes of the secular opposition parties and stopped BJP from coming to power, crashed through the defection of a few power-hungry legislators from both parties. Despite the best efforts of Congress leadership in Karnataka, the defecting MLAs could not be wooed back from their move. And it is in this same context that in Goa, where Congress had been in a desperate attempt to overthrow BJP from power, the majority of Congress MLAs jumped over the fence and helped the saffron party consolidate power. In Maharashtra, BJP claims that about fifty MLAs from Congress and NCP are in queue to join BJP. When all these developments occur, with no leader in Congress to say No, who is to be held to account?
When Shashi Tharoor calls for an end to the lack of clarity on leadership, he also suggests that the next leader should be from youth and that the restructuring of the party should be via elections from the lower levels. There are no disputing the fact that the more democratic the party, the greater its internal stability and robustness. One main reason for the decay of Congress is that not opportunity was offered to elect people with merit from booth level to the top. It is this same failing that led to its current crisis. Once an individual-focused and family-centric culture has evolved, and when some icons crash, it is quite natural for a vacuum to be created. If that were not the case, there are scores of leaders in this party with merit and ability. When they formed groups in search of positions and power, party discipline became a mirage. And those who lose in the bargain, immediately forget about the fundamental principles and lean towards far-right and fascist movements. Those who remain in the party try to make their position safe through short cuts. It is a simple fact that in a fight against the forces with infinite power and money, only those with similar strength can offer resistance. When in Karnataka, the drama enacted by Yediyurappa with the help of the Centre, throwing crores of rupees into the game, found its natural result, how could Congress counter it without having matching money or power?
Shashi Tharoor also expresses the hope that the Congress Working Committee will seriously consider this situation expeditiously in an attempt for resolution. The solution he envisages is to elect an interim working president and to conduct fresh elections to bodies including Working Committee. He also opines that AICC and PCC representatives could collectively decide who is to be the permanent president. All Congress leaders need not necessarily agree with Tharoor's views. Nor need the disagreement be necessarily driven by the desire to save the party and democratic India. The deadly disease eating into the party is the order of priority followed by partymen, i.e. personal interests first, family second, group next and only finally the party. The true reason behind Rahul Gandhi's quitting the post is his being fed up when he recognised this fact. And in the process, were the voters of Kerala being taken for a ride, when out of hope of bringing down the fascist outfits in the battle of ballots and of voting a secular government to power to protect the constitutionn, they cast their vote massively in favour of the hand symbol of Congress? It is leaders, including Shashi Tharoor, who owe the people a reply to this.