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Can Kanhaiyas entry alone save Congress?
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Jignesh Mewani and Kanhaiya Kumar

The entry of JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and young Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani into the party will help the Congress campaign nationally. But on the same day that Kanhaiya and Mevani stepped into the AICC headquarter, rumours started spreading that senior Punjab leader and former chief minister Amarinder Singh was leaving the party and Navjot Singh Sidhu was resigning as PCC president. On Wednesday, senior leader Kapil Sibal came out saying openly that the party's national leadership had seriously flawed in dealing with the Punjab crisis. In Kerala, the tensions within the Congress leadership are sharpening day by day. Kanhaiya Kumar's was a name that was noticed all over the country during the JNU student struggle. He was the representative of the student union of the CPI and the President of the University Union. Despite the party's low penetration in north India now, Kanhaiya became a star at the national level. The lack of leaders who knew how to speak to the people in plain Hindi was a major weakness of both the Communist parties. It is in such a context that Kanhaiya, who speaks musically in the vernacular, comes to the fore. The young man came to the forefront of the CPI. But differences with the leadership in his home state of Bihar soon erupted. That led to his resignation from the Communist party and now his entry into Congress. Whether the Congress benefits greatly from Kanhaiya or not, it is indeed a loss to the CPI. Kanhaiya Kumar is not someone who has any extraordinary political imagination beyond his excellent oratory. His views on modern politics do not go beyond the traditional left mainstream. But unlike Kanhaiya, Jignesh is one who has shown political imagination far above that. In the special case of Gujarat, it may benefit the Congress, the main opposition party there. It is only that the Congress should be able to integrate the views of people like Jignesh into the party's policy and program.

Parallel to the entry of Jignesh and Kanhaiya, the departure of eminent leaders on the other hand shows the present state of the Congress. The lack of an assertive national leadership is really troubling the party. Kapil Sibal's concern that there is not even a full-time party president reflects it. The first culprit in the party's setbacks in the strongholds of Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh is the ineptness of the central leadership. That is the reason for the current crisis in Punjab too. In the past, the party used to solve all problems by sending senior leaders as governors. Today the Raj Bhavans are not in the hands of the party. There is also the absence of a leader like Ahmed Patel who was known as the troubleshooter. Rahul Gandhi himself does not even know his role within the party. Technically, Sonia Gandhi is the president. However, her service is not available full-time. Even where the party has strong state units, rifts are creeping up and the central leadership is unable to deal with it fairly. If this goes on, the party will not have to wait long to weaken and disappear. The G-23, which includes leaders like Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor and Ghulam Nabi Azad, has been talking for some time about the need to modernize the Congress internally. But the Congress leadership has not been able to take it seriously.

As for f the Sangh Parivar, all its moves are aimed at keeping power at the central level for some time to come. A national alternative that can overcome is yet to be formed. At the same time, there are active political outfits in various states borne out of regional, federal politics. They are strong in all the states outside the Hindi belt; they are in power in many places too. In such a context, the idea of a single national party against the Sangh Parivar is irrelevant. At the same time, the Congress has relevance as a party with a presence all over India. It is their job to unite the various currents against the Sangh Parivar and turn it into a national alternative. That is the party to do it, but old ideas and party practices will not suffice to achieve it. That is why the demand for an organizational and ideological overhaul is emerging from within the Congress itself. Does the Congress leadership get this message? If not, there is no point in showing enthusiasm over Kanhaiya and Mevani's joining the party.

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TAGS:Kanhaiya and Mevani AICC Kapil Sibal G-23 Amarinder Singh 
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