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Who will save Congress now?

Who will save Congress now?

Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi chairs the Congress Working Committee meeting, in New Delhi, Sunday, March 13, 2022. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and KC Venugopal are also seen. (PTI Photo)

Last week, when the results of the Assembly elections in five states were announced, and if one asks a question which party suffered the most there can be only one answer: the Indian National Congress In Punjab it suffered a rout due to power tussle and internal strife. In Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa, there was great potential, but due to organizational infirmities, it got relegated to the Opposition. The case in Uttar Pradesh is more pathetic. Despite AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi directly leading the campaign, it won only two seats and 2.33 per cent of the votes. The unfortunate fact is that in addition to suffering repeated defeats, things are moving towards the Sangh Parivar's dream of a 'Congress Mukt Bharat'. The Congress is currently in power in only two states in the country. When compared to the situation in last Lok Sabha election, the Congress' graph is again going down. After the Lok Sabha elections, the party suffered major losses in Kerala and Assam. More pitiable is the fact that none of these successive series of failures has taught the party and its leadership any lesson. This is underlined by the decisions of the Congress Working Committee meeting convened to assess the election defeat and related developments. .

A working committee meeting in Delhi on Sunday came to a judgment that its election strategy was flawed. But despite sitting for four hours, the meeting did not go into the question as to who was responsible for the election debacle or make any introspection about it. The meeting was adjourned after it was decided that Sonia Gandhi would remain at the helm till the end of the organisational elections and that a detailed think tank would be held to assess her defeat. In other words, the leadership was not even prepared to hold any discussion focused on electoral defeat. It all ended as a routine meeting. Two days later, another extraordinary step was also taken by the national president. Sonia Gandhi demanded the resignation of PCC presidents in all the five states where elections were held. It is customary for state presidents to resign, accepting responsibility for electoral setbacks. But before that happened, Sonia demanded their resignation as an advance move. However, no action has been taken against those who led the election campaign in the respective states.

It is in this context that the criticisms of the G23 faction, the rebel group within the leadership, have to be taken at face value. The core of the criticism raised by leaders including Kapil Sibal is that the party's culture of democracy has been lost and the Congress movement has degenerated into a private limited company of a few owners. This is not the first time they have raised this reproach. Two years ago, the AICC team comprising Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad had raised a storm by writing a letter to Sonia urging a comprehensive overhaul of the party. Subsequently, Sonia decided to resign. But, as it happened in the latest meeting, it all ended with a working committee meeting. Since then, although the G23 leaders have occasionally raised some dissident voices, the leadership has not given much heed to it. If any one attributes the electoral collapse to the neglect of such voices, it won't be much off the mark. This crisis of the Congress is not only organizational but also ideological. The organisational part of the crisis could be put at rest to some extent with organizational election and the assumption of AICC leadership by a new team of leaders. But it remains to be seen whether the party will still be able to come up with new action plans in tune with the changing times. It is already a well-known fact that the party has no clarity on how to deal with the extremist Hindutva espoused by the Sangh Parivar under the leadership of the BJP. Even at this stage, the Congress has no tool at its command other than the soft Hindutva gimmick it had used to stay in power.

It is in this context that the question arises why there should be a soft HIndutva Opposition when an extremist Hindutva is ruling the country. In fact, the Congress still has the strength to organize the victims of fascism nationally and to hold the secular parties under one umbrella. However, there is not even any contemplation of such a concerted move on the part of the leadership. The party often resigns itself to the racist politics promoted by Hindutva in the context of issues such as the Ram temple and the hijab. It was the concerns and frustrations over this approach of the rank and file and secular segment in the party. That Kapil Sibal and others have aired over the last few days. While some leaders have tried to construe those criticisms as smacking of RSS leniency, the current fall has to be seen as an inevitable one. May God save the Indian National Congress!

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TAGS:elections in 5 states Congress defeat Sonia & Kapil Sibal G23 leaders 
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