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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

Congress Law Of Inertia

A Gandhi never quits? But Rahul Gandhi as party president has not proved to be the galvaniser that Sonia was.

Congress Law Of Inertia
Photograph by PTI
Congress Law Of Inertia
outlookindia.com
2019-05-31T12:09:23+05:30

December, 1985. The Congress, a brute majority in the Lok Sabha on Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s watch, was celebrating its centenary year at a plenary in Bombay—yes, that was before the city changed its name. And in a speech shocked party stalwarts at the session, Rajiv declared that Congress workers were “handicapped, for on their backs ride the brokers of power and influence, who dispense patronage to convert a mass movement into a feudal oligarchy”. For such “brokers of power”, Rajiv added, “the masses do not count” since “their thinking, or lack of it, their self-aggrandisement…their linkages with the vested interests in society… are wholly incompatible with work among the people”.

Nearly 35 years since those prophetic words, the Congress lies in tatters. The BJP’s Narendra Modi spared the “grand old party” 44 seats in 2014 and 52 in 2019. Yet, the Congress remains the “feudal oligarchy” that Rajiv had cautioned against. The abject failure at the hustings has been autopsied threadbare. Rahul Gandhi, the commander who led his men into the amb­ush, told his colleagues in the Congress Working Com­mittee (CWC), the party’s top decision-maker, his wish to step down as party president. A suitable replacement must be found, preferably within a month. Efforts by Congress leaders, including mother Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to persuade Rahul to withdraw his resignation have, so far, drawn a blank.

For the Congress, the deepening crisis is familiar territory, but no one’s willing to learn. Before 2014, when Sonia Gandhi took over as Congress president in 1998 after the brutal exit of Sitaram Kesri, she had spoken about dwindling numbers of her party in Parliament, the “serious erosion” of its support...

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