After Delhi debacle, sections of Congress stress on need for strong leadership, but such 'introspection' has yielded little in the past - LiveNow24x7: Latest News, breaking news, 24/7 news,live news

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Tuesday, 25 February 2020

After Delhi debacle, sections of Congress stress on need for strong leadership, but such 'introspection' has yielded little in the past

In the aftermath of the Delhi election results, some voices in the Congress have begun speaking on the issue of the top leadership, and have stressed the need for a strong leader. This is a pattern that has been repeated several times in the recent past.

However, such exercises in introspection have been mere optics and have not produced anything concrete.

The recent remarks made by senior Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Jairam Ramesh on addressing organisational challenges point towards an acute leadership crisis and infighting.

The dismal performance of the Congress in the Lok Sabha and the defeat of Rahul Gandhi in Amethi demoralised the former party president to such an extent that he distanced himself from the party's core activities and stepped down from his post. While Sonia Gandhi was elected as interim president, several Congress have spoken about the crisis in the top leadership, to no avail.

Rahul Gandhi losing from his home turf Amethi in 2019, demoralised the former party president to the extent that he distanced himself from the party's core activities and stepped down from his post. As he refused to come back, Sonia Gandhi was elected as an interim president, and since then several Congress leaders from across the country have raised the issue, but to no avail.

File Image of Congress flags. News18

Speaking to Firstpost, Rasheed Kidwai, political commentator and author of two books on the Congress said, “If the party really wants to revive itself, it needs to work with a timeline in mind. There should be something like an ‘Action Taken Report’ to monitor the progress. But nothing is happening, as the party is displaying a lack of seriousness."

Political experts believe that as long as Sonia is at the top, the older generation of Congress leaders is comfortable. But the new generation desperately wants to see Rahul as party chief.

Immediately after the Lok Sabha poll debacle, Rahul, during a meeting of the Congress Working Committee, had complained that some of the party’s senior leaders didn’t fully cooperate during the campaign. Indeed, a section within the Congress is apparently not willing to accept Rahul’s style of leadership. That is the reason why the demand for a ‘new president to fill the vacuum’ hasn’t come from members of the old guard like Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, etc.

As Sonia has been pivotal in managing the coalition arithmetic in states like Maharashtra and Jharkhand, senior leaders close to her believe that her exit might cause serious disruption.

A Congress leader told Firstpost on the condition of anonymity, “Soniaji wants to be relieved of the president’s post, but who will be next? Rahulji wanted a free hand in his functioning as Congress chief, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. Although Soniaji has been facing health problems, some of the senior leaders want her to remain at the helm of affairs so that they can be comfortable. This is adversely affecting the party’s organisational structure and its winnability in elections.”

The absence of strong leadership in the Congress has also resulted in infighting in the state units of the party.

Within days of the Congress' debacle in Delhi, a war of words erupted between Maharashtra Congress leader Milind Deora and DPCC ex-chief Ajay Maken on Twitter, following the former's praise for the Arvind Kejriwal government.

Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit blamed the senior leadership and Delhi Congress in-charge PC Chacko for the party's poor performance.

Delhi Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee also strongly criticised Chidambaram for praising the Aam Aadmi Party’s performance in the Delhi polls. In a scathing tweet, she said, “With due respect sir, just want to know—has INC outsourced the task of defeating BJP to state parties? If not, then why are we gloating over AAP victory rather than being concerned about our drubbing? And if ‘yes’, then we (PCCs) might as well close shop!”

In the Congress-ruled state of Madhya Pradesh, chief minister Kamal Nath and former Lok Sabha MP from Guna, Jyotiraditya Scindia, are at loggerheads. Scindia lost from his home turf Guna in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Interestingly, barring a few, the leaders who have voiced their concerns over leadership issue in the party or expressed dissent are dynasts and have failed to win elections. As a result, they themselves lack credibility as mass leaders.

Some Congress leaders have highlighted the damage being inflicted to the party by the actions of some individuals.

The Congress leader quoted above also noted “Abhishek Manu Singhvi has raised the issue of leadership. He became a Rajya Sabha MP from West Bengal with the support of Mamata Banerjee. He represents the TMC as a lawyer. On the one hand, he is a Congress leader and on the other hand, he has taken assistance from the TMC. Such actions cause damage to the party’s image and credibility."

Kidwai added, “Congress leaders are also eyeing the 11 Rajya Sabha seats which will fall vacant this year. Some of the leaders who lost the elections like Scindia and Digvijay Singh are desperately trying to get a berth in the Upper House. The game is one of political supremacy and staying relevant in the party.”

Sonia has said in the past that the party would work towards spreading the Congress’ ideology at the grassroots. But that doesn’t seem to be happening due to the lack of ideological clarity and absence of a strong leader who can anchor the operation on a pan-India basis.

February 24, 2020 at 11:28PM

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