Congress puts on a brave front despite exits

Rebel Congress MLAs after meeting Speaker Ramendra Chandra Nath in Agartala on Tuesday. Photo: PTI

Rebel Congress MLAs after meeting Speaker Ramendra Chandra Nath in Agartala on Tuesday. Photo: PTI  

The Congress put on a brave face on Tuesday in the wake of a spate of departures — and almost departures — from the party in several States. The official view is that members have left the party for greener pastures even in the past, whenever the party has been out of power, but have never succeeded in weakening it. Simultaneously, there are others who say that it is during trying times that members’ commitment to the party and its ideology is truly tested.

Of course, in the case of senior >Maharashtra leader Gurudas Kamat, who announced his “retirement” from politics though not from public life on Monday, the party is in talks with him. On Tuesday, its communication chief Randeep Surjewala indicated that the leader would be back in the party soon. “Gurudas Kamat is a seasoned and experienced leader of the party and very much a part of the Congress family. He has not resigned from the Congress. These are rumours,” he said. “Regarding his role in the party, he will continue to be a cherished member and the high command will soon announce a bigger role for him.”

But it is clearly a worrying time for the Congress: a day after former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister >Ajit Jogi formed his own outfit and Mr Kamat made his dramatic statement, > six Congress MLAs in Tripura crossed over to the Trinamool Congress. And this comes within months of a rebellion in Arunachal Pradesh resulting in the loss of the Congress government there.

Then former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and nine MLAs chose to align themselves with the BJP in > Uttarakhand , leading to a spell of President’s Rule in that State. Of course, a court-mandated floor test since has ensured that the Congress is back in power — but reports from the State suggest that the problems are far from over.

‘Party can’t be weakened’

Nevertheless on Tuesday, B.K. Hariprasad, party general secretary in charge of Chhattisgarh, referring to Mr. Jogi, said: “He saved us the trouble of expelling him. Those who have been created by the party and given senior positions in it cannot weaken the party by leaving it… In the past, stalwarts like H.N. Bahuguna, V.C. Shukla and Arjun Singh — all groomed by the Congress — left, but could not weaken the party.”

“Ajit Jogi was made Chief Minister, a Congress Working Committee member and MP by the party; Gurudas was made Youth Congress president, general secretary and Central Minister by the party,” former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh told The Hindu. “When the party has given you so much, you should not place your individual self above the party.” It is at a crucial juncture such as this that the party needs to re-discover its collective strength. It’s unfortunate that people should be quitting at such a trying, testing time.”

Privately, however, some senior leaders are expressing their concern at the continuing downslide. On Tuesday, a senior functionary told The Hindu that the exits from the party were symptomatic of a major problem: “The high command has stopped communicating with most of its senior leadership. They are not discussing the next step. Perhaps they have no idea how to solve the problems.”

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 2:10:10 AM |

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