Shiver and seizure: On the list of Congress Rajya Sabha candidates

Not many people expected the Congress to practise what it said it would at the Chintan Shivir or brainstorming in Udaipur, Rajasthan, from May 13 to 15, but its list of candidates for the Rajya Sabha seems to have confirmed the views of the most cynical. Rarely has a political party abandoned a set of principles within days of announcing it with such boisterous aplomb and self-righteousness as the Congress has done in this case. The Udaipur Shivir resolved that the “principle of ‘one family, one ticket’ should be ensured”. A retirement age for leaders for elected posts was suggested, though no specific decision was made. These moves would have been a good start, though not in the least sufficient, to stir some fresh thought, infuse some new blood and breathe new life into the party. But far from making any serious attempts to adhere to this modest reform agenda, the Congress party trampled all over it, if not in letter, most certainly in spirit. The exclusion of Anand Sharma and Ghulam Nabi Azab, who have been in the Upper House for four and five terms, respectively, merely shows that scores have been settled rather than fidelity shown to any principles. Who will now be waiting for its 2024 Lok Sabha candidate list in which the Congress has promised to include 50% of those below 50 years of age?

At the end, of the 10 members the Congress will send to the Upper House, there are at least two who are the second members of their family to represent the party at the State legislature or Parliament; all five seats that the party can win in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh — the last two States where it has Chief Ministers — have gone to leaders from outside. Even the candidature of Randeep Singh Surjewala is not from his home State of Haryana, but Rajasthan. As it happens, the Congress is holding State-level congregations across the country on June 1 and 2 to communicate the decisions taken in Udaipur. The Rajya Sabha list hardly forms an inspiring backdrop to that exercise. The party demands blood and sweat from its workers, and offers bounties to a select few. All this has naturally triggered resentment in the party, as there are no objective and defensible criteria that the Congress has followed. This utter disregard, and in fact, humiliation of the ordinary worker has already brought the Congress to its knees. Any other party would have held those responsible for its string of defeats to account. The Congress brand of politics has been reduced to deal making among the small club of managers and power brokers without a support base. While that might suit those who control it, any analysis that pins hope on the Congress to be a source of democratic revival in India must be tempered by a cold shower of sobriety.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 5:40:30 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/shiver-and-seizure/article65476863.ece