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Editorial: Think fast

Top-heavy Congress needs to democratize itself and find its relevance
Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi
Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi
File picture

The Editorial Board   |   Published 16.03.22, 12:32 AM

Brainstorming sessions need to be a cerebral engagement. Unfortunately, the Congress Working Committee’s chintan baithaks, made necessary by disastrous election results, demonstrate the trappings of a puppet show. The Gandhis ritually make noises of withdrawing from the party: on this occasion too, Sonia Gandhi, effectively a titular leader, reportedly stated that she is ready to take a step back if there was consensus about the ineffectual nature of her leadership. In their response, senior leaders, including the ‘dissidents’, typically feign horror and plead with her not to put word into action and then proceed to issue statements endorsing the need for her leadership, unity and organizational reform. The show thus goes on. Even after its pitiable performance in five states, the prevailing mood in the last CWC meeting was one of procrastination. There was no urgency to usher in a change of ‘leadership’. Ironically, the Congress is without a visible leader with Rahul Gandhi, in spite of several requests to take over the mantle formally, deciding to call the shots from under the protective shadow of his mother. The organizational elections were not expedited. There was no urgency to douse the perpetual inner feuding: the claws are already out over Rahul Gandhi’s choice of C.S. Channi in Punjab that slipped out of the party’s hands. Apparently another chintan shivir is necessary to reflect on the contours of change. The Congress should know that the slow-moving tortoise did beat the hare in the race but that took place in a fable, not in real life politics.

The dilemma lies elsewhere. There have been calls for the Gandhis’ ouster but such an untangling looks difficult. This is because the entanglement of Party and Family are deep, organic, and mutually beneficial. History, as well as a history of servitude, deepened the bond in the past. The compulsion remains unchanged at present. Whatever his political deficiencies, it is difficult to deny that Rahul Gandhi has been one of the consistent and courageous critics of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its vision for India. The dissidents who pontificate on ‘entitlement’ are unlikely to win a public mandate even in a local election. The Congress, just like any other top-heavy, bloated, disconnected entity, needs to democratize itself and make it relevant to the people’s aspirations. The leadership and the cadre must be accountable. The transformation, if any, must be a collective exercise. And at the earliest.



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