By Arun Srivastava


Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has constituted a number of committees and put the so called rebels in these committees. Through this move an impression is being created that the dissident leaders, like Kapil Sibal, Shasi Tharoor, P Chidambaram are opposing the leadership for sharing power. Loyalist to the leadership systematically tried to create the impression that these leaders are out to grab the office of the party president obviously with the aim to become the future prime minister. 


One must appreciate the imaginary skill of the loyalists. While it has been an astute move to deflect the criticism and protect Rahul Gandhi from humiliation, it also aimed at smearing the leaders who raised the issue of revival and rejuvenation of the party.


It is a debatable issue whether at all these 23 leaders who had written letter to the Congress chief about rejuvenating the party could at all be described as dissidents.  Before describing them as dissidents, the loyalists and the leadership must know the real meaning of dissident. The word dissident is used when a person or group of persons oppose the policy of the party. They were not opposing the policy of the party. In this case they were expressing their anguish at the style of the functioning of the leadership. They had expressed their fear that the party would be decimated if no serious move is undertaken to revive and rejuvenate the party. They were feeling frustrated at the inability of the party to evolve a mechanism to fight the misrule of the Modi government.


Unfortunately the loyalists, resorting to the highest form of sycophancy, projected this demand as a move to dethrone Rahul Gandhi. They ought to have realised that Rahul had already resigned and is sulking at home. These leaders were of the view that Rahul must review his stand and stage a comeback. In case he is not willing then in that case somebody should take the charge.  The party cannot continue to be headless. This arbitrary functioning of Rahul has inflicted a massive damage to the organisation.


Only for the sake of registering his presence, he used to issue occasional statements. At no stage did he make any sincere effort to synchronise the voice of protest against Modi. No doubt through his occasional attacks he has been embarrassing Modi, but what benefit the party was getting out of these occasional outbursts. Modi certainly does not take him seriously. Ordinary Congress workers, down to the level of block, were feeling frustrated. They enthusiastically respond to his outbursts, but there is complete absence of a mechanism to channelize it, give in a shape and implement it at the ground level. This malaise has been haunting the organisation and the cadres.


The result of the Bihar assembly elections simply endorses it. The party failed to exploit the ground swell. Rahul has miserably failed to strengthen the organisation. If there had been an agile organisation in Bihar the party must have won many seats, at least succeed in retaining its 27 seats it had in previous house.


Least to speak of the so-called dissident leaders, even the loyalists are not sure about the timing and process of Rahul Gandhi’s return as party president. He must throw out the premonition that Congress cannot survive without him, if he stops commenting on the functioning of Modi. There is no doubt none of the 23 leaders have all India stature. But a new president must strive to coordinate the function of the party at all India basis, give a direction to its functioning, activate the workers, which Rahul has not been doing.


To counter Modi it is imperative that the Congress must have an agile and dynamic president who can coordinate the functioning nationally. At a time when the politics has been radicalised, it is more imperative. With BJP under Modi resorting to this nature of politics there is no other party which can challenge the BJP. MIM of Owaisi has also been pursuing this line. In fact almost all the smaller parties in the states have been following this political line.


This nature of politics will ultimately harm the political institution and damage the political structure of the country. If the Congress has been a vibrant organisation in the states, then this nature of politics could have been checked to a greater extent. It is wrong to say that the older leaders of Congress were not willing to take the BJP, especially Modi head on. The Congress must reply what it did to check the Modi government from adopting the three bills relating to citizenship issue. The Congress might have opposed it on the floor of the parliament, but it did it hit the street as was done by the Shaheen Bag protestors. What prevented the Congress to identify itself with the people. Was it afraid of losing the Hindu votes. Unfortunately by maintaining a passive silence it has lost the credibility of being the pioneer of the secular forces and secularism.      


The BJP which has been maintaining silence on this issue in recent days, is planning to implement it just ahead of the Bengal election. Ironically the Congress is still busy with the polemics whether to have seat adjustment with the CPI(M) and TMC. Central security agencies have been conducting an analysis of the demographic and economic profiles of populations along the Bangladesh border, especially pockets with sizeable concentrations of Muslims in Bengal. The survey has already triggered fears of religious profiling ahead of the Bengal Assembly elections next year. Such a survey is bound to send a wrong signal to the minority community because of the prevalence of a sharp anti-Muslim narrative and could trigger apprehensions of being systematically spied on and investigated.


Congress hopes that the Muslims will support it. But on its part it has not been sensitive to the issues which affects Muslims or Dalits or other minorities. In the Independent India for the first time the labourers and the daily workers have to face immense humiliation and insult at the hands of the government. The country witnessed a vertical divide between the capitalist order and the proletariat; the Modi government was more concerned to serve its rich and middle class friends during the pandemic, than taking care of the poor labourers. The Congress should have identified it with the aspiration of the poor. But it failed.


One is not sure whether the Congress leadership is aware of the changing character of the RSS itself.  The RSS has brought about massive change in its ideological approach and orientation. The new ideological mantra is “Savarkarism”. Their strategy to push the Muslims at the periphery of the politics and political structure of the country is the basic ingredient of this ideology. The Congress, particularly Rahul Gandhi must realise that Modi is not at all bothered by any criticism for his failure to put the economic functioning and economy on track.  He is also not concerned about the spike in coronavirus. His primary mission is to clean the path for transforming India into Hindu Rashtra or Bharatvarsha. 


The committees formed by Sonia Gandhi would function like shadow ministries, as is prevalent in the UK, but these will cease to have any impact on the Modi government or on Modi himself.  It is unlikely that these committees’ reports and assessments will succeed in cornering the government. The Congress has consistently criticised the government’s handling of the economy over the years, alleging wrong measures were being taken and expert advice was being ignored. But Modi has not taken them seriously. (IPA Service)


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