After the second term of the Modi Government, the three states that wreaked havoc in the perfect saffron graph of the BJP were the Hindi Belt states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. What made Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh buzzworthy were the power-packed campaigns reigned by two young and strong faces of the Congress leadership- Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot. It was expected that these leaders will be the new faces of the party that has been a Gandhi threshold for decades now. But as soon as Gandhi comes into perspective- there is a vision of an army of lions led by a sheep.
I have maintained spectator’s silence on the Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan politics. Why these two states, and not Chhattisgarh or Maharashtra matter more for the renaissance of the first political organisation of our country, was the rise of young faces that could reverse the dwindling trajectory of the INC and become its foray into the Centre. The possibility was meek, not just because of a strong central government with a defined hierarchy which captivated the conscience of the Bhartiya, not “Indian”; but also because these knights in shining armour overshadowed a prince who has been failing time and again to conquer the Indian polity, whose territory resides in the heart of our nation’s populace.
Elaborating on the family politics of the INC will prove to be a digression, because it has been 15 years since the entire nation has witnessed the unfolding of Rahul Gandhi’s political career with bated breath, only to find him as a disappointment when compared to the personality and leadership of his father, Late Former PM Rajiv Gandhi.
When Smt Indira Gandhi was inducted into the Congress, she was called a ‘Gungi Gudiya’ (dumb doll). India’s first PM, Pt Nehru’s daughter engraved her footing in the party and became the ‘only man in the cabinet’, after a firm debacle, leading to a sharp uprise of her party. The same was seen when Sonia Gandhi commanded the INC, with dissatisfied leaders leaving on the pretext of not having a ‘foreigner’ command them.
Then why has Rahul Gandhi failed to make an impact? And more so, why is the Congress Party unwelcoming to rising, young leaders?
Comparisons are not new to politics. It has been a visible trend- starkids of yesteryear stalwarts are not received well because of unfair comparisons in the film industry. There, money is the player and producers form an oligopoly- giving actors a chance till they fail to prove themselves on a streak and then bring on the next set of performers.
The INC, or rather politics is governed by power rather than money, and the quality of power is that it isn’t eay to let go. Hence, there is little change in central party leadership, and mostly it is hierarchal- ironically the same phenomenon we have been grappling with since the British Era and swore to eradicate in our Constitution.
Coming back to our knights in shining armour, the Congress leadership tactfully overshadowed them with loyalists like Kamal Nath in MP and Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan. It was evident that a power struggle ensued, and even though elections were won- the CM face was under wraps.
The Bhartiya Janta Party has made a new normal in Indian politics of defection- like a Pied Piper, master strategist and Home Minister Amit Shah entices rival party MLAs to resign, or better join the BJP and form a government in regions where they lost initially.
From Bihar to Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh is the third state where the BJP rose back to power after MLAs defected from the Congress Faction to the BJP. The commander-in-chief of this operation was Jyotiraditya Scindia, a generational loyalist of the Gandhis whose father Madhavrao Scindia was a veteran Congressman.
Sachin Pilot’s exit was a storm in the making, because even though he was the Deputy CM of the Rajasthan Congress Government, he was at loggerheads with CM Ashok Gehlot. With MLAs being taken to BJP-ruled Haryana’s Gurugram and Manesar, the public geared for another political drama. Pilot wanted the CM post or threatened quitting, as the Congress High Command tried to pacify him.
Pilot was not ready to bow and accept the BJP patka, when people assumed it was his only way out. It would have left him at a low bargain, but his bird-eye view was clear and unwavering- it was the CM post, or nothing.
Closed door discussions now turned public, as CM Gehlot publicly lashed at his deputy, calling him ‘useless’ and ‘inciting fights within the party’.
“I still didn’t question this in party’s interest. Nobody can believe that he, having an innocent face and influence over media, can do this.”
The Congress was prepared to corner the BJP once things went haywire in Rajasthan after the MP debacle, and Union Minister Gajendra Singh’ Shekhawat’s audio tapes were released accusing him of horsetrading. A different battle of unethical phone tapping has ensued.
As senior leaders called Pilot ‘ungrateful’ for ‘achieving everything in a young age’, one is only reminded of how Rahul Gandhi was the General Secretary of the Congress in no time after his entry, becoming equal with leaders who had worked their way up. From there, he went on to be the Vice President and later the President of the INC, but sadly the party lost one election after the other in his leadership.
And what about the MLAs? They sit in armchairs enjoying movies and hotel stays, being herded from one faction to another- the primary motive being power. Are they to blame, when the examples they look upto have been subject to the same poison they are now indulging in?
And not much has changed- even as we can see what happens behind closed doors, we cannot jostle the stakeholders into a consciousness of their wrongdoing.
We need to question- is the Congress debacle paving a way for an autocracy that will be a blow in citizenry chest, with each quitter contributing to the demolition of political choice, and further accountability, in our democracy?