Where is Cong headed?
Ever since it got a new president and five working presidents, the Maharashtra unit has stopped talking in one voice
With Sonia Gandhi's comeback in the saddle, the grand old party's stability can now be assured, say the Congress's rank and file that was thrown in a void after Rahul Gandhi's resignation and refusal to helm the party affairs. The Gandhi scion had his reasons — while he put some in a public domain, the exact nature of other decision-makers that discouraged him from taking up the job again may never surface even when the party's modern history is written. A long-time Congress leader from Maharashtra who has done his politics in New Delhi for most of his career said that the party's control now rested with the veterans who were a guiding force for Sonia in her first term of 19 years as the national president of the once most powerful political force in the country.
A senior journalist friend in New Delhi, who has been following the Congress for decades, said a common feeling in the party is that Rahul worked very hard and yet the Congress couldn't deliver the expected results in the Lok Sabha polls. Why? He says the analysis by the party's veterans has spelt out one reason that can be corrected in due course of time. "There was a great disconnect between the upper and lower level of the party. The working style of Team Rahul was entirely different from that of Team Sonia which comprised veterans who always had a sense of reality," said the journalist, adding that the veterans who have been close to Sonia Gandhi should now be leading from the front, making the 'aspiring' younger lot even more nervous. Can the veterans, including Sonia Gandhi, prevent this feeling of nervousness from weakening the party further? We will have to wait for some time to see how it happens.
Three states including Maharashtra will go to the Assembly polls in the next two months. Before the president's issue could be settled, the party went haywire because of a poor Lok Sabha show and nation-wide defections to the BJP. There was a time when people speculated a split in the party. But with Sonia's placement, a possibility of the worst happening is out of the question. The challenge now is to reorganise the party, treat a strained relationship between the old guard and young Turks who have suddenly vanished from the space available, the cyber space included.
The BJP hasn't stopped being aggressive. It has started delivering the manifesto promises such as abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir. The issue divided the Congress leaders as some supported the BJP's move showing that the party does not have a uniform thought process. The Centre's supporters were rebuked but not punished even when a majority in the party felt that those speaking against the agenda should be handed an exemplary sentence.
Groupism in Mumbai
Mumbai Congress unit was embarrassed when its young president Milind Deora, who was brought in ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, tweeted in contradiction to the party's official line on Article 370 and had earlier made some statements that were not in sync with the party's policy. His recent tweet calling an ailing BJP leader Arun Jaitley his mentor has received flak. Former MLA Kripashankar Singh has been criticised for his proximity to BJP.
Deora had quit as Mumbai president but told to stay on after the party appointed veteran Congressman Eknath Gaikwad as a working president. And as the election dates are to be announced soon, the Mumbai Congress is back to its old self — groupism has resurfaced, and nepotism seem to be the key word as several old-timers have asked for tickets for their sons from the city where they had received a sound drubbing at the hands of BJP and Shiv Sena.
Mumbai and its extended metropolitan region account for a fourth of the lower house seats. Mumbai and Maharashtra units govern the district party units here. The lurking danger of defections hounds Congress across the state. The scouts from the BJP and Sena are hunting prospective winners ahead of the Assembly polls. The Congress has accused the ruling party of misusing power to induct turncoats. The accusations may hold ground in particular cases, but not all defections fall in the same category. Some prominent leaders have quit the Congress because of the party's bad affairs and ill-treatment at the hands of seniors. Don't be surprised if more from Mumbai and the state switch sides in coming days.
Six leaders, six voices
Ever since it got a new president and five working presidents, the Maharashtra unit has stopped talking in one voice. There is cut-throat competition between the six in making statements of their choice. Yet another leader who is of a very aggressive kind sans civility adds to the chaos. The former president does not fall short of efforts in reaching out with a statement or two. Poor spokespersons have been rendered jobless. But the positive side of it is that the party unit appears to be alert and reactive in nature. However, the Mumbai unit is far from the activity that should be in sync with the demands of current politics. It appears to have accepted defeat in advance.
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