After 21 years, the Congress party has finally decided to hold an election to elect the party’s president. Several names are doing the rounds. A section of people believe that the Gandhi family will back Ashok Gehlot, the chief minister of Rajasthan, in this post, and there is also the name of MP Shashi Tharoor doing the rounds. The grand old party, which should be the key opposition to maintaining a balance in the democracy of India, struggles to maintain their internal democracy.
These are the mere names of different leaders. The reality is that the Congress has little scope to function without the shadow of the Gandhi family. Rahul, Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi both oppose the Congress party’s independence. The status quo will continue if a Gandhi family member becomes president once more. If someone other than the Gandhis is elected president, that person will either be reliant on their decisions or will be unable to carry out their own ideas.
Enemy of Congress
Gandhis must acknowledge that the family centrism, not Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the Bharatiya Janata Party, is the real threat to the Congress party. There is no doubt that the first tenure of Sonia Gandhi was remarkable. But the Congress party will have to accept that from the time of the formation of the UPA2, the party’s popularity has only declined. The BJP and the charisma of Narendra Modi have only added to the decline of the grand old party.
In the past few years, many leaders have left the party – former CM Captain Amarinder Singh, MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jiten Prasada, Kapil Sibal, and Ghulam Nabi Azad, among others. All these were noted leaders of the party. Some people joined the BJP and others formed a new party. The common is their discontent with the leadership. All have questioned the decision-making process of the party. It can be argued how important these leaders were to the party. It could be also argued that no one is irreplaceable. But human resources are also crucial in politics.
Many may wonder why, given how frequently these topics are discussed, people continue to write against the Congress party. Thanks to democracy. India deserves a better opposition political party. India deserves the political party that played a key role in achieving its independence. The nation needs trustworthy leaders who are capable of questioning the status quo from a distance. However, the Congress party will need credibility to accomplish all of these goals. The integrity of the Congress party is currently declining with each passing day. The Congress, which cannot even manage its own internal democracy, cannot expect people to believe they can have faith in this political party. The battle at the national level is against the BJP.
It is a pipedream for the Gandhi family to think that one day Indians will become hopeless about the BJP’s rule and turn to Congress. It is rare for such miracles to occur in Indian politics. The people’s trust in congress depends on its ability to connect with them and earn their support. The BJP did not become what it is in a single day. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power, the BJP lacked the majority and was forced to form a coalition government. Vajpayee was compelled to step back because he lacked support. But the BJP never gave up and persisted in its efforts until it succeeded. The Congress has massive potential and that potential is the loyalty of the people. They have never looked at this potential but only waited for a miracle.
There are still supporters of the Congress party. About 20% of all votes cast in the general election of 2019 went to the Congress party. Due to their loyalty, voters for this party cast their ballots. However, the Congress disregarded them. The Gandhi family only wants to hear compliments about themselves. Only those who are blind and unable to see beyond the family are believed by the Gandhi family. They are unable to see the people and their potential. This is why the Gandhis choose to ignore their support, which no other political party in India has besides the BJP.
Change is welcome
Having said that, any departure from the Congress Party’s current course is welcome. It is important to fight elections with the ideals and pride of democracy in mind. Since this is an opportunity to defend the internal democracy of the grand old party, more and more individuals should run for president within the Congress party. The internal democracy in Congress must be upheld by each and every member. The Gandhi family ought to permit a non-Gandhi to lead the Congress party and promote the same. Additionally, they ought to permit this person, if elected, to operate freely and fairly.
The Congress Party needs to recognise its potential and acknowledge that it cannot stand up to the juggernaut of the Narendra Modi-led BJP alone. The party will need to leave its perch and engage the other anti-BJP political forces. In order to create a coalition that the public will support, the Congress party should cooperate with all of the anti-BJP forces. Every political party, as well as the leaders, are accountable for ensuring the success of democracy.
The writer is an independent journalist and columnist based in Kolkata and a former policy research fellow at the Delhi Assembly Research Centre. He tweets as @sayantan_gh. Views expressed are personal