Jyotiraditya Scindia's jolt to Congress and Rahul Gandhi: Is the party facing an existential crisis?
Faced with one after the other debacle and its inability to hold its flock together, many Congressmen are wondering if they have to adopt a softer approach towards the majority and not lean only towards the minority for appeasement and vote bank politics.
- R Rajagopalan
Jyotiraditya Scindia is in the news. He has created a political turmoil in the Grand old Party Congress. His joining of BJP has created a tsunami in Madhya Pradesh state politics. Insiders in Congress Party like Jairam Ramesh were vocal maintaining that Congress is facing an existential crisis, especially so after its decimation in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Now post Jyotiraditya's departure from Congress, a new theory is being floated by the old-time leaders. They are concerned that Scindia leaving the party will have a psychological and moral impact on Rahul Gandhi's personality. It is a setback for Rahul Gandhi as the exit of Scindia could be a speed breaker for his elevation as Congress President for the second time, which was likely to take place in the next two months.
The mention of the phrase 'let us move on' in Jyotiraditya Scindia's letter of resignation is a food for thought for fence-sitters in Congress who are battling with the multiple onslaughts. Is it an ideological crisis shaping in the Congress? Will it lead to the swing of the pendulum from extreme left to right?
The three Gandhis at the helm of the debacle
It was after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and later the killing of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, the Congress started to take an extreme position of antagonizing the majority vote bank. These two are the turning points for the Congress organisation to get weakened. Congress cannot tilt its ideological positions frequently. Are the old guards blaming the debacle on Sonia Gandhi? The answer for this from within the party is a stoic silence.
Few concerned Congress leaders believe the AK Antony committee report on 2014 debacle of the party to be correct in its assessment. The report said that the Congress failed to drive home the point that minority and majority communalism were equally dangerous for the country. The report submitted that the Congress' minority-appeasement policy proved to be counter-productive. While frequent statements of some Congress leaders on the Muslim quota antagonized and alienated the majority community, the panel noted that the minority community, too, doubted the Congress’ intentions, arguing that there was a huge gap between programs announced by the UPA and their actual delivery on the ground. AK Antony has been saying this in private conversation too. Yet, the three Gandhis went after minority votes even in 2019 and lost badly again.
Panchmari AICC resolution was put to wind. Corruption charges on P Chidambaram further his going to Tihar Jail with his son, CBI cases on many Congress leaders gave a new twist to the public mood on Congress leadership.
In a private conversation, a senior leader commented that transformation of Congress from Sitaram Kesri's line of thinking to far-left ideological thinking of Sitaram Yechury had led to this debacle. Scindia leaving the Congress now has also put question marks over the failure of Sonia Gandhi's leadership.
Frustrated with the repeated charges and counter complaints of groupism among leaders of Congress in Madhya Pradesh was also a main reason for Scindia to leave the party. Rahul Gandhi instead ofnaddressing his concerns was often on a vacation at one or the other foreign location. In fact Jyotiraditya Scindia is said to have brought major concerns of farmers of Madhya Pradesh like that of waiving off farmers loan to Rahul Gandhi's notice but theyn were simply ignored by him. This was said to be the main irritant for Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Gandhis not rising to the occasion
Jairam Ramesh, a veteran Congress leader has openly said that it is high time that Rahul Gandhi takes control of the Party and has categorically said that the party should take a tough stand on secularism and not favor one community. Other seniors in Congress like Sachin Pilot too have said that Congress cannot tilt in favor of one community and should instead have a balanced approach. They have called for rebuilding the party on these lines again.
Leaders like Siddaramaiah and DK Shiv Kumar have said that the three Gandhis should have stood up with the organisation and upped the ante when the cadre of the party were demoralized due to the onslaught of slogans like 'Congress Mukt Bharat' of the BJP. Their failure to rise up to the occasion was also one of the issue flagged by Jyotiraditya Scindia, say party insiders.
Senior leaders like Gulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma Motilal Vora are concerned about the future of Congress. Congressmen realize that it is time for Gandhis to come clear on their ideologies. Internal assessment of AICC is that the Government agencies are unleashed after the three Gandhis everyday and are targeted in one or the other way. The National Herald case, Income Tax notice to AICC,withdrawal of SPG to the three Gandhis, Priyanka Gandhi selling Rajiv Gandhi's painting to Rana Kapoor of Yes Bank, are some of the cases that have demoralized the cadre who are also confused on how to respond to the allegations.
Party insiders say that Amit Shah is focusing on real estate deals of AICC in almost all districts of the Country, which is roughly estimated to be more than twenty thousand crores. They say that Modi Government wants to create legal hindrances for these real estate deals of the party. Despite these negative aspects the Congress still regained in key states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh. But since then the party has found it difficult to keep its flock together.
Scindia was always considered as being close to Rahul Gandhi much before the Congress debacle in 2014 and even during the first government of Narendra Modi they were seen as close confidants. However, the divide began after Scindia felt that Guna parliamentary constituency defeat was engineered by Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath and Rahul did not support him. Scindia is said to have been deliberating with three Gandhis on this aspect. Despite a wait of three or four months, Jyotiraditya did not get a favourable response from any of them.
However one may look at it, the resignation of Jyotiraditya Scindia from Congress and his joining BJP which supports Hindtuva has certainly stirred the mindset of Congress cadre. A rethinking process has begun among the Congressmen if they have to adopt a softer approach towards the majority and not lean only towards the minority for appeasement and vote bank politics.