It was a blunder on the part of the Gandhi siblings to depend on the undependable and support Navjot Singh Sidhu all the way. Sidhu has been playing the sikh communal card and as Captain Amarinder Singh said the former cricketer is ‘unstable.’ The captain proved right when Sidhu had dashed resignation letter to a stunned Sonia Gandhi on an issue that could be resolved through consultations which ultimately happened when he met the new chief minister, Charanjit Singh Channi on Thursday. Sidhu is reportedly staying back. One does not know whether he would continue to play truant in the name of his ethics and his agenda which appear to be above that of his party which made him president of the state unit.
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One can understand the sense of resentment Gandhis entertain towards the captain since he never cared for them. He did not heed to Sonia Gandhi’s advice nor did he show any respect for young Gandhis. In fact, he never met the brother and sister in the whole saga. Being a Rajiv schoolmate, he thought he was entitled to a special position in the party handled by the former prime minister’s wife and children. He must have thought he would not be disturbed until at least the next elections which are less than four months away. He obviously underestimated Rahul Gandhi’s impatience and recklessness with which he acted when he asked the veteran leader to put in his papers. Gandhis’ first priority was to get rid of the captain who, they thought, has been looking down upon the family. The choice before them was an equally belligerent younger sardar who has no respect for reputations.
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Listen to the seniors
The G-23 members also lost their patience and asked Sonia Gandhi to convene a meeting of the working committee to discuss what is going on in the party and to know who is taking decisions. The group comprises senior leaders who worked with Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao and Sonia Gandhi. They have experience, tenacity and abundant commonsense. Their loyalty to the party is unquestionable. They cannot fit into any other political formation in the country. The Gandhis would do well to listen to their collective advice and get them back into the party fold by all means. Some of them are grass root leaders and the rest are articulate and intelligent. The party needs both the types. The announcement made by the party’s spokesman Randeep Surjewala that working committee meeting would be held soon and Sonia Gandhi had instructed them to organize one before she left for Shimla is a good augury.
No more whimsical decisions
Rahul Gandhi has to realize that he cannot keep on taking important decisions without consulting anyone except his inexperienced sister. After he resigned from the post of party president taking moral responsibility for the defeat in 2019 elections, the family did not relinquish authority. It did not elect a new president. Organisational elections were not held. The family continues to act as high command in a whimsical and tentative manner. They have no legitimacy. If Rahul wants to lead the party, he should go for elections and get elected as president in right royal way. That is not going to be difficult since none in the G-23 group or the leaders in the party is an aspirant to the position nor is there any popular leader who can beat a Gandhi in open and transparent elections.
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The immediate task before the party high command is to do something about the forthcoming elections in UP, a bellwether State. Priyanka has been in charge of the largest state for years but she is yet to focus on elections. Periodic visits and motivational speeches are not going to help. She has to live in Lucknow and stand up as chief ministerial candidate contesting the assembly elections. It is already late for her to jump into the fray. Better late than never and never think about the outcome. It is an opportunity to prove her worth as a fighter in the path shown by her grandmother. If she fails to take the plunge, she would prove unequal to the challenge and the Congress in UP will remain a poor fourth. The result of 2022 elections in UP will impact the 2024 general elections. If you fight in UP you will be considered a fighter in general elections.
Rahul’s impatience with old guard understandable
One can understand Rahul Gandhi’s, and his sister’s, desire to reduce dependence on aged leaders and opt for young and energetic ones like Kanhaiya Kumar and Jignesh Mevani. The party has many such talented youth. It also has seniors whose egos matter. A leader of a political party like the Congress has to be in constant touch with the young and old and carry them forward. It has to recognize and encourage the younger leaders and listen to the seniors. The party cannot afford to put the aged leaders out of the reckoning altogether. As the party moves on, the old and the tired would opt out and only the young and the energetic would continue to march. It is for the leadership to chalk out such a dynamic and inspiring roadmap.
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Election strategist Prashant Kishor may have asked a Goan Congress leader to join Trinamool Congress, but Mamata’s party is not going to be alternative to the BJP at national level. There is no alternative to the Congress as a party that can take on the BJP in 2024 elections. Any opposition group has to be led by the Congress. It is also a fact that there is no alternative to Rahul Gandhi among the Congress leaders if he is keen on continuing in politics in a combative way. However, he cannot change the chief ministers at will, but has to follow a standard procedure as was done by his mother, father and grandmother. All the three had their way but consultation process and diligence were never skirted. It is not too late for the Gandhis to save and rejuvenate the good old party. Get into the act or get out of it, for heavens’ sake!
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