Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Why Rahul Gandhi should stop sulking and get back to work

The Congress party is looking at a chasm. A chasm that is likely to get bigger because its biggest rival, the BJP, is all set to make national parties a relic of the past. Why Rahul Gandhi should stop sulking and get back to work Why Rahul Gandhi should stop sulking and get back to work
The Congress party is riven by factionalism and Rahul Gandhi should act before it is too late.




It is the season of sulks. Instead of acting like mature leaders, our political netas are behaving like spoilt brats whose favourite toy has been snatched away.


Look at West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. Still smarting after being out-flanked by Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo in the general elections, Didi has said she wouldn't come to New Delhi for a Niti Aayog meeting.



Mamata Banerjee has her reasons to skip the June 15 meeting; but it is more a case of licking her wounds than a case of opposition based on ideology.

Janata Dal (United)'s president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is another person who is chafing inwardly. Nitish Kumar is said to have asked for three JD (U) MPs to be inducted in Narendra Modi's cabinet - one each of cabinet rank, minister of state (with independent charge) and minister of state.

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Modi offered one post to JD (U). A stunned Nitish Kumar decided to stay away from the Modi government. In a tit-for-tat move, the Bihar CM expanded his cabinet and offered BJP a single berth.

Nitish Kumar shouldn't forget the numbers. With 303 seats in Parliament, Modi was being generous to JD (U) by offering to share power. And by winning all the 17 Lok Sabha seats that it contested in Bihar, BJP's grip on the state is only getting stronger.

But if there is a king of mopes in Indian politics today then the crown should go to Rahul Gandhi.

Leaving in a huff

 Source: GettyImages

On May 25 he quit from the post of Congress president saying that there were many leaders who were working for their sons rather than the party. Gandhi's resignation led to a chorus of lamentations in the Congress Working Committee.

The Red Tea Detox

Since leaving the Congress top job in a huff, Rahul Gandhi has gone incommunicado. He is back in Delhi after his thanksgiving trip to Wayanad. And it is time he gets back to work. Work being to helm the Congress party. And he has an uphill task ahead.

The Congress party is looking at a chasm. A chasm that is likely to get bigger because its biggest rival, the BJP, is all set to make national parties a relic of the past.

If Rahul Gandhi doesn't quickly retract his resignation then his party would slowly but inexorably roll towards oblivion. Congress is in a shambles across the country. There is grim news for Rahul Gandhi.

In Mahrashtra, the Congress is on the verge of a split. Veteran lawmaker and former leader of opposition in the assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil has quit Congress and is all set to join the BJP. Most likely he will get a berth in Devendra Fadnavis cabinet.

According to the Indian Express four other Congress MLAs -- Kalidas Kolambkar, Nitesh Rane, Abdul Sattar and Jaykumar Gore -- are likely to join the BJP. There have been desertions at the district levels too.

Maharashtra will elect a new assembly later this year. If Rahul Gandhi doesn't get a grip on the situation, Congress may not even get the 42 seats it got in 2014. Maharashtra assembly's strength is 288. Considering that the party won just one Lok Sabha seat (of the 48 on offer), the Congress faces an uphill task.

If in Maharashtra Congress is on the verge of breaking up, it already has in Telangana. Earlier this month 12 of Congress's 19 legislators joined the Telangana Rashtra Samithi of Chief Minister K Chandrsekhar Rao.

Congress legislative party leader Bhatti Vikramarka sat on a token hunger strike, accusations of money exchanging hands were in the air but the reality remains that the Congress state unit is looking lost.

Captain has a complaint

In Punjab, its only stronghold in the north, the Congress is all set to implode. The rift between Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is growing wider every passing day. The situation has become particularly acute after the Lok Sabha results were declared.

 
Navjot Singh Sidhu met Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday. (Source: Twitter/@sherryontopp)

In a recent cabinet rejig Captain stripped Sidhu of some key portfolios. Sidhu met Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday and apprised them of the mess that is Congress in Punjab now.

In recent years Congress has been plagued by factionalism. The situation in Madhya Pradesh should give the Congress the jitters. Out of the 230 seats in the assembly, Congress has 114 and BJP 109. For now the Congress has the support of the lone Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) MLAs as well as four Independents.

The Kamal Nath government in Bhopal is shaky. Defections can be engineered. And the party's pathetic show in the Lok Sabha elections -- of the 29 seats it managed to win just one -- isn't helping the party herd its workers.

A similar story is being played out in Rajasthan. That Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot do not vibe well is no more a secret. And that translated into a drubbing in the recent parliamentary elections -- not winning a single of the 25 Lok Sabha seats.

In the assembly too Congress is barely holding on. Of the 200 assembly seats, Congress won 100 and the BJP 73 in the 2018 assembly polls. There are 13 Independents in the House. Toppling the government will be child's play for BJP, which is in power at the Centre.

A long list of things to do


 
Gandhi in a roadshow during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. (File image: Pankaj Nangia)

For Rahul Gandhi to shirk the responsibility of keeping the Congress flock together will be criminal. The party has been wiped out in West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Haryana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

Rahul Gandhi should first get down to organisational restructuring. Get Priyanka Gandhi, who has a great connect to the people, to reach out to the workers. Meet local leaders and put the vim back into the party.

Appoint a working president if need be but resigning can never be an option. For democracy to thrive, India needs a strong opposition led by the Congress-India Today



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