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Congress has proven, more things change, more things remain the same

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New Delhi, Aug 27: The Congress faced yet another crisis after 23 senior sought for an introspection. A stormy meeting of the Congress Working Committee was held and Sonia Gandhi was asked to continue as the interim president until a new leader is elected.

Is the crisis over or is there is more to come? OneIndia caught up with leading psephologist, Dr. Sandeep Shastri to discuss the issue.

Congress has proven, more things change, more things remain the same

Dr Shastri says that Congress has proven that more things change, more things remain the same. This is an existential crisis for the Congress party, where I think the situation seems too be right and appropriate towards a non-dynasty leader.

Indian politics has reached a stage where dynasty politics alone is not sufficient to win.

The party has not come to power on its own for the past 3 decades. If it needs to remain relevant, then it needs to re-invent itself. Rahul Gandhi resigned in 2019 and took responsibility for his party's defeat. We have noticed across the world, in a parliamentary system, when a leader steps down it is to make way for a new leader. When he resigned and said that he does not want to be back, the party should have seen it as a wonderful opportunity and bitten the bullet. Instead, they went back to Sonia Gandhi.

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Dr. Shastri says that his reading of the situation is that the cabal that is close to the leadership is interested in the dynasty continuing. They have a vested interest. Most of them have not won an election for a long time and their source of power is the proximity to the leadership. If the leadership changes, they will be uncomfortable with the change and hence they keep bringing back the dynasty.

If some within the Congress believe that the dynasty is needed for the unity of the party, then I think that the dynasty should remain as a national leadership, Dr. Shastri says. The party would then have to bring in mass leaders to run the party and not arm chair leaders. The party does not need back room boys who are good at scheming, but are bad at ground level politics.

The 135-year-old party has to adjust to the needs of the 21st century. Congress has been in this drift since 2014 and if this continues the BJP will be more than happy.
A parliamentary system needs a strong ruling party and a forceful opposition. The Congress has left the opposition space open and it is the state based parties that are filling in.

On Rahul Gandhi, Dr. Shastri says that sometimes leaders become loose cannons. They fire, but do not know in which direction the cannon will go. Unpredictability, lack of clear focus is something that you see in his responses. It could be argued that he is raising the right issues, but not approaching it in the best way.

When you in opposition, there should be synchronisation in your response. That is not there in Rahul Gandhi. One must recall the incident when he tore an ordinance, when Dr. Manmohan Singh was in power. Sometimes his responses today is a reminder of that approach.

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    There is a small group of people advising him, but the question is does it have the party's approval? He needs to work in tandem with the party's line. Once he says something, the rest of the party scurry around to understand what the party's line is, Dr. Sandeep Shastri says.

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