Bickering and strife within Congress an existential threat to party
New Delhi, July 09: It would not be wrong to say that the Congress is going through really bad times which is undoubtedly one of the worst phases it ever had to face since the independence. Not only has the party been reduced to double digits in the Lok Sabha for second time in a row, there are internal conflicts, strifes and factionalism within party in many parts of the country.
After the Lok Sabha polls drubbing, Rahul Gandhi decided to step down as the Congress chief, but not before pointing out that during campaigning, he sometimes felt 'all alone' fighting the BJP. Also, on May 25 when Rahul first offered to resign, he was reportedly miffed at some senior leaders like Ashok Gehlot for campaigning more for his son than party in Rajasthan.
Even months before the general elections, when Congress won assembly elections in three states, the process to choose the Chief Ministers left many frowning. Rahul's decision to step down was not just because of the loss in general elections, it was also because he was unable to bring about a change in the party's mindset and the way of functioning.
There are layers in the Congress. What is called as the old guard comprising of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi loyalists, and the new guard comprising of new breed of leaders. The reluctance of the old guard to change has come to the fore many times. Handing over of power to the new guard has been a problem.
Rahul, many say, wanted to bring in sweeping changes in the party, but was met with silent resistance, from the old guard who wield considerable power within the party. For example, when it came to choosing chief ministers for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, after Congress won assembly elections in three states last year, it was visible how old timers were unwilling to pass on the baton to new breed of leaders.
In Rajasthan, both Sachin Pilot, who managed the campaign and is popular among the youth, and Ashok Gehlot, a veteran and former CM, staked a claim to the post. Many rounds of meetings were held, and Sachin Pilot even reportedly remained defiant. But, the final outcome was that Gehlot was chosen. That was the time, party could have shown its willingness to change, something which the BJP has time and again pointed out.
Similar thing happened when Kamal Nath was chosen over Jyotiraditya Scindia for Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister's post. Scindia supporters were out on the streets of Bhopal, and almost seemed ready to rebel.
The time has now come to free the grand old party from the clutches of the 'old guard'. In many states, things are the way it should be for the Congress.
In Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu are bickering. In Karnataka, nothing is right and the most leaders are unhappy with the coalition with the JDS. In Maharashtra, Milind Deora resigned as the state chief and what has now come out is that Urmila Matondkar had written a letter to Deora stating "issues like failure of party leadership at local level and infighting created hurdles and obstacles in my entire political campaign."
If Congress has to stand up again and give the BJP a fight, then first it must set its own house in the order. BJP is a formidable party with good internal working mechanism which has yeilded results for it. Congress shouls shun its old mindset and show progressiveness, it ought to be donw in such a way that people feel that the grand old party is changing. What Congress needs badly at this moment is a total image overhaul.