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Has Nehru-Gandhi’s Congress come to an end?

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Rahul Gandhi decided to step down from the position of the party chief after the abysmal performance in the Lok Sabha election and he made it clear that he is sticking to his determination and would not be involved in the process of the selection of the new party chief.

A dynastic control combined with a lack of accountability has been the critics’ big grouse against the Congress, which became loud after the party’s rout in the recent national election. For the second time in a row, the party got devastated, getting only 52 seats – a marginal rise over its score of 44 in the 2014 election. What accentuated the defeat was Gandhi’s loss from Amethi, his family turf, to BJP’s Smriti Irani.

Days after the results were declared, Rahul Gandhi took “100 per cent” responsibility for the party’s failure and told the 52-member Congress Working Committee that he would like to exit as its top boss. Meanwhile, Congress refused to accept Rahul Gandhi’s decision and over the last weeks, has stuck to the template. We all know only the Gandhi family can hold the Congress together. Gandhi minus family has no meaning. Since Independence, the Congress always had the Gandhis’ at the helm, except for several years after Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991.

However, the party did not do well under Sitaram Kesri and several leaders had convinced Sonia Gandhi to enter active politics and take the reins of the party. Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia would, however, remain in the Congress and work for the party.

I personally respect Rahul more than any other Congress leaders because he seems to be pure from heart, innocent, and childish. He has compassion and no greed. He is well-mannered and has humble conduct. He might have failed as a politician but he has won many hearts as a human. The only thing he lacks is maturity, seriousness, and street-smart approach that a leader must have.

However, he alone pulled the Congress cart standing tall against Modi and Shah. This election was for Modi as the PM and winning 55 seats was also a task. The arrogance of the Congress leaders, the loopholes in the UPA government, the vacuum between the leadership, and the citizens of the country lead to their big downfall. It’s not easy to overcome over-hyped Modi’s era unless the Modi government performs very badly. The Congress could manage to add only a few seats to its 2014 tally of 44 seats. Rahul said that there are a lot of people who believe in Congress’s ideology and he would like to assure them that there is nothing to worry. There are many Congress leaders who are not as active as they should be and they have not taken the loss seriously; there are some Congress leaders who are here to make their children’s career.

Gandhi is the primary heir to the ultimate political dynasty. His great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first and longest-serving Prime Minister of India. His grandmother Indira Gandhi was the first female Prime Minister of the country and his father was India’s youngest Prime Minister.

Congress Party of the present is playing a game where the opponents of the main leader are cut off totally. The leaders who questioned Rajiv’s dealing in defense contracts or Sonia’s foreign origin were all abruptly thrown out. In 1998, Sitaram Kesri was thrown off the leadership saying that he lost the elections to BJP. However, in 1999 when Congress lost, even more, no one dared to question the effectiveness of his successor – Sonia.

Kesri and other leaders had the ignominy of roughed by their own party members in the headquarters of the party he headed. There were occasional stretches of brilliance from the Congress. For instance, Narasimha Rao stunned everyone in what he was capable of. However, he was silenced by the end of his term and in a short time was forgotten.

While Congress continued to name all government programs on Rajiv and Indira, hardly anything is named after Rao or others. Nand Kumar Gujral was an upright man and among the nicest leaders, India had. He tried his best to protect democracy from the clutches of Indira. See the reward he got – thrown off the cabinet. Later when he became the PM through a coalition arrangement, Congress played drama with Jain Commission reports and destroyed his government – among the best ones in foreign policy and economy.

In such a scenario, where you are roughed by your own party and forgotten by your own party even after doing great things for your nation, hardly any self-respecting leader can stay within the party. Almost every last leader with respect have quit and thus by self-selection, the ones remaining are those who would not question. People talk about Sachin Pilot, Shashi Tharoor, etc. None of them would survive outside Congress. Pilot was a minister only because of his daddy’s legacy. Tharoor, while definitely intelligent, is not cut out for big league politics and showed no indication of running a people movement of his own. Sonia is far smarter in politics than them and they better not throw away their advantages of sticking on.

In summary, the reason why Congress leaders don’t question Nehru family is that they cannot remain long within the party. Those who could not accept that kind of dictatorial proceedings found almost all major political parties in India. The reason why no Congress leader opposes the Gandhi Parivar is that they are such pathological compulsive boot-lickers and they can’t help it. The so-called elite leaders of Congress know that none of them have any pan-Indian appeal and also cannot win even a few seats by themselves even in their own backyards. They are all ambitious and prone to the pronounced Indian crab culture, and as at present, the Nehru-Gandhis are the glue who bound these disparate leaders together and still keep the Party intact.

Like it or not, politics in India, and to some extent elsewhere, is heavily dependent on personalities rather than policies or programs. That way the Nehru-Gandhis are a brand in themselves for Congress just as Narendra Modi or Arvind Kejriwal are brands or the USP for BJP and AAP respectively because they are the most known faces and vote catchers for their parties.

We have seen in recent times what befell the elite leaders of both BJP and AAP when they decided to defy Modi or Kejriwal. Please also note that even in the worst drubbing the party ever got in 2014, the Congress still managed to get a vote share of almost 20 per cent whereas BJP riding on the anti-incumbency wave and Modi magic could by itself manage only a little over 30 per cent. So, there are people out there who still vote for the Nehru-Gandhis even though the people on social media are averse to the dynasty and consider Rahul Gandhi as Pappu. The elite leaders can never challenge the dynasty and for that, we need mass leaders with grassroots level support, like late K. Kamaraj and YSR or like Mamata, Nitish Kumar, and Chandrababu Naidu of today. Finally, Gandhis have come to terms and gave up their ambition to remain on the higher position of party politics. Let’s see, with this change whether Congress bounces back or sinks further.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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