Monday, 30th October 2017

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Resigned Congress registers protest

No sign of fightback in Delhi

  • Published 11.07.19, 1:35 AM
  • Updated 11.07.19, 1:35 AM
  • 2 mins read
Shivakumar (PTI)

The Congress leadership appears resigned to the collapse of the Karnataka government, with the enduring leadership crisis hampering rescue operations.

“The rudderless party has seemed uninterested; even the state leaders have not acted with unity of purpose,” one senior leader told The Telegraph.

A month and a half after Rahul Gandhi resigned, the Congress is struggling to appoint a president.

While the party’s political management has been wanting over the past few years and the BJP has been able to play with the mandate in several states even when there was no leadership crisis, many leaders insisted that this time the topple bid could have been defeated because there was advance knowledge of the operation.

“The BJP had drawn up an elaborate plan to pull down the government before the Lok Sabha election. That plot couldn’t be executed then but the demoralisation after the rout in the election emboldened the BJP to try afresh. We knew what was happening but responded casually. The key state leaders as well as general secretary in-charge K.C. Venugopal cannot escape responsibility. The counter-moves started when things slipped out of our hands,” the senior leader said.

Instead of fighting their hearts out to save the coalition government in Karnataka, the central leadership appeared content with condemning the BJP for the “murder of democracy”.

“If 18 MLAs chose to defect and the party was found sleeping, where is the political management? It is right that we can’t match the BJP’s money power but there is no denying the mismanagement of unrest. We haven’t learnt lessons from Arunachal and Uttarakhand where our party was hijacked by the BJP. The institution of general secretary is almost dead. We can’t fight the BJP with this casual approach,” another senior leader said.

There is, however, another point of view that little can be done when the central government is hell bent on destroying democracy and a sinister operation is launched with unlimited resources and wanton disregard for political morality.

Leaders who took this line of argument pointed to the drama in Mumbai where senior Karnataka minister D.K. Shivakumar, who had arrived to meet the rebel MLAs, was not allowed by police to enter the hotel they were holed up in. His own booking at the hotel was cancelled.

The Congress’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said: “It appears that in Mumbai, especially for Congress, a martial law has been imposed only to prevent the MLAs, who are in captivity of the ruling party, to come forward and talk to Mr Shivakumar.”

Party leader Sanjay Nirupam said: “The police are working like an agent of the BJP, they are following the directives of the political masters instead of following the rules. The hotel owner is pressurised to cancel the booking of the minister.”

Maharashtra state unit chief Ashok Chavan said: “Democracy was throttled.”

But ironically, many leaders in Delhi were not supportive of the valiant efforts of Shivakumar, known for his fighting spirit.

While other top leaders remained aloof, Adhir addressed the media, saying: “The BJP used all the tricks in conspiring to pull down the Karnataka government – coercion, blackmail, money, misuse of power. What happened in Mumbai is an assault on democracy. MLAs were lured first and are now being kept in captivity. Such ugly conspiracies to manipulate people’s mandate in the lust for power is dangerous. It is now proven the ruling BJP has no respect for the constitutional scheme; it is determined to crush all democratic norms to perpetuate its power.”

Rahul Gandhi, who visited Amethi for the first time since his Lok Sabha defeat, did not even tweet about the ugly drama of Karnataka. He chose to comment instead on the cricket World Cup defeat and his 10 million followers on Twitter, a milestone he crossed on Wednesday.