The letter writers in the Congress party are nothing but all those who benefited by the Darbari politics of the party. They are comfortable in the current situation and don’t want any radical ideological shift of the party. Most of them would be happy with their Rajya Sabha seats or party leaders without taking Modi and RSS head-on. This is what I called the Brahmanical lobby in the Congress which never wanted any change in the party at the first place. It resisted all the change-making process which Rahul Gandhi wanted and it is these who actually sabotaged Rahul’s efforts, leaked internal matters of the party in the media and made him look like Pappu. Those who enjoyed every power in UPA, sold India to private cronies, never bothered to speak about the atrocities on Dalits and minorities, today are ‘worried’ about the affairs of the party.
I agree that Congress Party needs to make a decision but things are not simple. When Rahul Gandhi was made President of the party prior to general elections or even in 2014 when he was vice president, the coterie actually wanted him there but remain dominant and decisive factor within the party. Now, BJP and RSS have not attacked anyone else than Gandhi. They mocked at Sonia and lampooned Rahul Gandhi. Congress leaders allowed this to happen as most of them felt Rahul Gandhi is just novice and don’t know anything. They were holding on as they felt that Gandhi family is not merely the glue which unite Congress but also a vote catcher but as Rahul Gandhi speak bigger issues of land acquisition, Dalit participation, minority rights, China question, this group has suddenly become restive.
One is surprised at their ‘concernn’. Drawing room manipulators claiming to be leaders always mocked at Rahul Gandhi for knowing nothing and kind of ‘bewakoof’ but as in the last few months, Rahul Gandhi’s interventions and articulations compelled even his opponents to think that he is not just a brainless person as being made out but has a mind of own and very refined one. After all, where is the opposition speaking at the moment? You can have a look at all the opposition parties and the issues they have raised so far. How many Congresspersons raised the people’s issues? Well Barkha Dutt want Jitin Prasad or Shashi Tharoor to be the president of the party but except for Brahmin pride, what do these two leaders offer to the party.
I think the Gandhi family is right when it says someone else should become the party president so that they can devote more time on connecting with masses and raising people’s issues. I think Rahul’s reluctance was basically asking the party leaders to allow him focus on people’s issues and let the organisational work be done by some other person. That way, he was trying to assert not merely his neutrality in the party but also keeping away from the groupism there but it seems that the old guards and some of those with no difference with BJP, feel that an assertive Rahul Gandhi with ideological clarity is dangerous to those who have enjoyed fruits of power in the Congress party without doing anything.
It is these leaders who never bothered the way Rahul Gandhi, as well as Sonia Gandhi, have been joked by the vicious troll army in the social media. None of them bothered to speak up against this attack. Suddenly, all of them who enjoyed back door entry in the party are now talking about ‘democracy’. The problem with the Congress Party is that they don’t have an Amit Shah to assist Rahul Gandhi. Most of the so-called youth ‘icons’ felt that they have more ‘knowledge’ than Rahul Gandhi. So somewhere, Congress party, its leaders were responsible for the creation of Rahul Gandhi’s image and in person they would say it the same way. Many like Jyotiraditya, Manish Tiwari, Sanjay Jha, Anand Sharma have the upper caste arrogance and would never like the issues of social justice and representation of the Dalits-OBCs in the party.
Things move slowly in the party. I feel Rahul Gandhi is reluctant because he hands have been tied up and now when he is asserting, the old lobby does not want him because they know it well that once he becomes the president this lobby won’t get anything. After the defeat of Congress party, none of these leaders defended the party leaders. They did not take BJP and Narendra Modi head on. None of them repeated those issues which Rahul was raising. In fact, many of them were waiting for him to fail.
Whatever be the reason one thing is clear that Gandhi family will be the uniting factor of the Congress Party. Second, in terms of pan India appeal, people know them well and will trust them more. It is also a factor that BJP and its media want us to believe that Gandhis have become irrelevant but then they should enjoy it and allow the party to do its own things. Why is BJP so bothered and irritated whenever Rahul Gandhi speak anything. Why is there a line of top leaders not responding to Rahul’s questions but attacking him in absolute filthy way?
It is also a fact that Rahul and Priyanka will be perhaps the last of the Gandhi generation that would lead Congress or can lead them. Congress party will have to nurture leaders across the communities all Ove the country. The fact is that BJP is still a north Indian party in terms of its ideology and perception. The dominance of Gujarat people in bureaucracy as advisors of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is not a hidden factor. Everyone knows that two industrialists from Gujarat have been the biggest beneficiaries of the current regime that even Kerala Airport has been handed over on a platter to Adani against the wishes of the state government. All such things are happening and Congress leaders don’t speak. They keep quiet and suddenly they wake up and want ‘organisational’ changes. When they were ministers in UPA, none of them bothered to speak to the Karykartas and their issues. Don’t we know how the gap between the government and Karykartas grew up that time? Don’t we know that Food Security Act, RTI, NREGA, Forest Rights Act, Land Acquisition Act were the contribution of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi against pressure from the corporate lobby and those of the economic rights of the party?
We have critiqued Congress in the past. I always mentioned that it drifted from the ideology of Nehru and only middlemen and contractors getting spaces there. In the last few years, things were changing. Obviously, those enjoying power, never had the ideological strength as they felt politics is not ‘ideology’ but ‘jugad’ and now they have realised ‘bleak’ future of the party or for themselves and that is why such issues which will not help. Parties must discuss the issues and resolve but deliberately leaking the issues to the media and attacking your party leaders who have been mocked by the Sanghi media, was not a great strategy and has only created a crisis which was not there.
Every party goes through a process. Right now, we are in a different age. Things are different here. Chandra Shekhar, Vajpayee, Advani remained in opposition for so many years and non-asked them to retire just because they were not coming in power. Electing party president is an internal matter of the party and they should do it but don’t discuss an issue because the media want it. Congress leaders have allowed themselves to be used by the media just because they don’t want Rahul Gandhi lead the party or they don’t want him to even suggest because all they are accusing him is that he is taking a decision from the back. The same people had no issue when Sonia Gandhi was guiding Man Mohan Singh from the back, which many in the opposition were calling ‘controlling’ the government but in democracies, it is the political party that runs a government and it has a right to ask the government to do certain things in the greater interest of the people.
Congress party needs a clean-up operation. It needs strong leaders from all over the country who are dedicated to social justice, secularism and democratic values. Congress must become a party of the social coalition for India’s huge diversity which is lacking at the moment in the ruling party. It must ratify its past mistakes, assure the people of India, that it has a solution to India’s problem and it is willing to learn from the past mistakes and move forward. In a democracy, we require multiple parties and at the moment, a destabilised and demoralised Congress would be the last thing that any politically understanding Indian would ask for in the greater interest of democracy and secularism.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
August 24th, 2020