The failed troika: On Congress’ CWC meeting

The Congress has precluded the possibility of any honest conversation at a proposed brainstorming on its plight by hailing the leadership of Sonia Gandhi beforehand. Ms. Gandhi and her two children, Rahul and Priyanka, control the party, but it would be illogical to attribute the collapse of the Congress party entirely to the Gandhi family. The meltdown of the Congress has been caused by a combination of several factors that evolved over decades. At the same time, the Gandhis cannot wash their hands of the debacle that they have led the Congress into. They failed to see the ground shifting under their feet and showed no imagination or willingness to work hard. Popular leaders were routinely sidelined and a cabal of court jesters was allowed to capture Rajya Sabha seats and control power. Mr. Gandhi who famously did not get along with the coterie that surrounded his mother, built a rootless, clueless one of his own, and made some disastrous choices such as appointing Navjot Singh Sidhu to lead the campaign in Punjab. In Uttarakhand, even in the face of a confused Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress could not get its act together.

In some contexts, dynastic politics continue to flourish, but for the Congress, it has become a huge burden to carry. It is not that the party will miraculously revive if all three members of the Gandhi family move away from the party, as Ms. Gandhi suggested before the Congress Working Committee meeting on Sunday. What is clear is that the current arrangement that involves Ms. Gandhi as titular head, and her children functioning as two unaccountable power centres, has become untenable. Whether the Congress party has the capacity to hold itself together without the ritual of deifying the family remains an open question, but it can no longer shy away from making an honest effort to explore the possibilities of an alternative leadership that is more accountable and accessible. The Gandhis too must reflect upon their competence and utility for the Congress. The proposed brainstorming must focus on the existential crisis that stares at the party, and should not be used as yet another opportunity to find excuses to maintain the status quo. The party had appointed a committee to examine the causes of its performance in the 2021 Assembly polls in five States/Union Territory. The report was submitted, but rather than discuss it, the party chose to lock it away. The party must look for ideas and leaders from within its ranks to attempt a revival. It is an uphill task and anything short of a brutally honest introspection is doomed to fail at the outset.

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