Hobson’s choice for Congress loyalists and the art of self denial in Congress

By: Pathikrit
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Hobson's choice for Cong loyalists
The script was perfected to the core and the drama was choreographed to precision. Much like most of the Bollywood movies though, even before the drama unfolded, the result was known to all. On Monday, the much hyped meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) ended with both Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi retaining their positions in the party after having offered to resign which, in an apparently rehearsed and scripted manner, was rejected by all CWC members and Gandhi loyalists.

The shrill cry in unison was as expected, that Gandhis are indispensable for the party, especially in such tough times when the very existence of the grand old party is in jeopardy. But while Narendra Modi has delivered on his promise of a Congress free India, one wonders whether the Gandhis and especially Rahul Gandhi would be able to do justice to the faith once again reposed on him by his party men and resurrect the grand old party.

Who Will Bell the Cat?

In the hindsight, even while the media and the people at large having been wondering as to why Rahul Gandhi, in spite of his most unimaginative and uninspiring leadership as well as the unprecedented debacle that he gifted to Congress, has been spared, one has to understand the predicament and the Hobson's choice that most Congressmen are often left with.

It is a foregone conclusion and beyond any doubt that in spite of the rhetoric of inner party democracy, Congress is no less a family run political party than a Samajwadi Party or a Rashtriya Janata Dal. Therefore, for most of the top Congress leaders, their existence in the party, their political elevation till date has been primarily because of their allegiance to the FAMILY and their loyalty to it rather than any kind of grassroots level hard work and contribution to the organisation that is a prerequisite in cadre based parties like BJP.

Can blind loyalists ever question the Master?

Therefore, to expect such people to even question the legitimacy of the leadership and seek accountability from the Gandhis is like expecting a fish to climb up the tree with elan. In the recent past in an interview to The New Indian Express newspaper, it was exemplified by the then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde who had (shockingly) stated with pride that he is a loyal soldier of Sonia Gandhi and if Sonia Gandhi asks her to shoot someone, he would shoot (Read here).

In the same interview Sushil Kumar Shinde had stated about Sonia Gandhi, "Our leader is so intelligent, talented and understanding; knows fully well what work has to be given to whom,". Therefore, to expect the likes of Sushil Kumar Shinde to even think about questioning the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and her son would be like expecting him to do harakiri.

In retrospect thus, by reaffirming their faith in the Gandhis, the top leaders of Congress were thus merely securing their own position in the party as going with the tide is better than being against the tide. Further, keep aside the most uninspiring leadership skills of Rahul Gandhi which got a massive drubbing in this election, perhaps the Congressmen were thinking of the alternate scenario which would have been much more cataclysmic for the party.

A Non-Gandhi at the top would create more heartburn

Fact of the matter is that for most Congress top leaders, a Rahul Gandhi with 44 Lok Sabha seats to his credit is much better than a non-Gandhi being elevated to the top position. That would create more heartburn and disgust among the loyalists even if it is to be better for the grand old party in the long run.

In other words, most Congressmen would rather prefer Rahul Gandhi taking down Congress even further and reduce it to 30 seats in the next Lok Sabha elections than to witness a non Gandhi being elevated to the top position and ending up with a better performance by winning more seats in the next Lok Sabha election than what Rahul Gandhi achieved in 2014. If that were to happen, then it would not have been appreciated by the Gandhis either since it would have put their own position in jeopardy.

The Harmless and Submissive Scapegoat- Manmohan Singh

The shocker from CWC was not just the drama of the resignation of the Gandhis and the rejection of the same by CWC but the manner in which Manmohan Singh took responsibility for the poll debacle. In the press conference after the CWC meeting, Congress General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi quoted Manmohan Singh having stated, "I take responsibility for the shortcomings of my government.....We were not able to communicate satisfactorily with the people on the issues of price rise and corruption, and the situations that arose because of it." [Read here]

Whether Manmohan Singh stated it in volition or the outgoing PM was made the susceptible scapegoat and was made to say this would always remain a million dollar question. But the manner in which his statement was read out in the press conference, it seemed apparent that Congress was too eager to make Manmohan Sigh take prime responsibility of the poll debacle.

If his governance was the reason for the poll debacle then it is no more a secret that he was a mere rubber stamp and the real power of decision making lay with 10 Janpath. Sanjay Baru's book, ‘The Accidental Prime Minister' has cleared all remaining doubts about this issue.

Rejection in Election was of Rahul Gandhi's Congress and not of Manmohan Singh

Besides, the rejection of Congress by the electorate in this election was not of Manmohan Singh but of the Congress as a whole led by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. The entire nation knows it but the Congress party continues to be not only in self denial but is making major effort to make the country believe their version of things.

A performing Modi Government would seal the fate of Congress forever

With the decisive mandate strong beside him, if Narendra Modi delivers on his promises, and chances are that he would deliver on most counts, then it would be like the final death knell for Congress if it continues to repose faith in the unimaginative and lacklustre leadership of a reluctant Rahul Gandhi.

With the possibility of the Modi Government taking the investigation of scams during the UPA regime to its conclusion, Congress might find it extremely difficult to even make a modest comeback as a national party leave alone regaining power.

The nation has moved on and is no more enchanted with melodrama of dynasty. But for most Congressmen, they are yet to come to terms with this reality and are still hoping this to be a passing phase. Self denial and sycophancy has no cure. That is the bitter reality.

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