Editorial

Congress Zero

The Congress’s >failure to win even a single seat in the Assembly elections in Delhi, a State it ruled for an unbroken 15 years till end-2013, only confirmed its members’ worst fears. The Grand Old Party is in free fall and in the nine months since it lost power at the Centre, its leadership has done little to arrest the downward spiral. In quick succession last year, the Congress lost Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, States it had been in power on its own or in a coalition. Its ranks have witnessed a steady depletion with several high-profile exits, such as that of G.K. Vasan and Jayanthi Natarajan in Tamil Nadu, Krishna Tirath in Delhi, Jagmeet Brar in Punjab and Birender Singh and Rao Inderjeet Singh in Haryana (the last two before the Lok Sabha polls), making headlines. Further, the division of Andhra Pradesh, a Congress bastion till recently, has virtually wiped the party out in both halves. Continuing feuds in State units, from Punjab to Maharashtra to Haryana, to name just three, simmer on. Yet another Antony Committee report, the post-mortem after its Lok Sabha rout, has predictably not been shared even within the party. A series of structured discussions led neither to a plan of action nor a reorganisation of the party. All decisions were postponed, citing the need to focus on the slew of Assembly elections, now all over, and this year’s scheduled party organisational elections.

But the real reason for the delay in instituting changes is the resistance within the party — and not merely, though primarily among members of the old guard — to installing heir apparent Rahul Gandhi as party president this year. The resistance comes not only from those who fear they may be pensioned off, but also from those younger leaders who do not see a future for themselves under his leadership. An overwhelming majority in the party believes he does not have what it takes: he has neither demonstrated the ability to sustain an idea or the hard work demanded of a full-time politician in a leadership role. There are now open whispers in party circles of a possible split in the party should Mr. Gandhi be elevated. The electoral verdict from Delhi has not come a day too soon: if the BJP was trounced, the Congress lost almost its entire vote base to the AAP. The Congress party has to urgently recover this lost ground by ensuring a return to its foundational principles that had won it the faith of millions in the past decades. Otherwise it will face the prospect of extinction as other political formations take its place in the contestation with the principal party in power, the BJP.


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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 1:24:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/congress-zero/article6883341.ece

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