Congress has reached the “enough is enough” moment. Boris exit shows change is good
BOris Johnson has been described as an “out of control caddy, veering from position to position” by his former adviser and now ardent critic Dominic Cummings. The Indian National Congress, on the other hand, can be described as a shopping cart with locked, rusty tires that refuses to budge. The reason I draw a parallel is that Congress can learn a lot from the Conservative Party, which dethroned the very same party that brought it to power in the UK. He can also learn from Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
It is common sense that rotation within parties in a democracy is good. But does Congress have within its ranks the ability and the will to look for leaders beyond the Gandhis?
For the party now reduced, the moment “enough is enough” has not really arrived yet. And we can’t imagine why. Congressional inertia has truly undone the party. Its oldest president is Sonia Gandhi: 24 and over. Even by Gandhi family standards, this is a stretch given that Indira Gandhi served for eight years, Rajiv Gandhi for seven years and Jawaharlal Nehru for four years.
It almost seems that Congress is more averse to change than to Narendra Modi. No one in the party wants to discuss the process for choosing a new successor to Sonia. The G-23 tried, but their efforts ended in a groan because the rest of the Gandhi family cronies seemed too offended by the idea of a change of direction – something that political thinkers, strategists and even insiders have repeatedly said will do Congress a world of good.
I can guarantee that even the BJP will implode if Modi were to lead the party for 24 years. In fact, the BJP managed to learn this early on, which is why Amit Shah bequeathed the functioning of the party to JP Nadda just six years after taking office as president. And there’s enough chatter about Yogi Adityanath being touted as the next Prime Minister online that’s why the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh is the star campaigner in all the assembly elections whether either in the south or the northeast, so that voters see him as a Pan-India leader as opposed to a simple monk turned Hindi heartland leader.
Also read: Rahul Gandhi must clarify his position on the leadership of the Congress. Chintan Shivirs won’t help
Examples of change before the Congress
Leadership is no longer guaranteed either in the regional parties. The same winds of change are also blowing on All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Shiv Sena. After the death of J. Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK succession race was bitterly contested, which led to the party splitting into two factions, one led by O. Panneerselvam or OPS, and the other by Edappadi K. Palaniswami EPS. And while it can be said that the OPS and EPS factions have weakened the position of AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, which led to DMK returning to power after a decade in 2021, there is no denying that the EPS still holds goodwill among the Dravidians due to his stellar governance during Covid.
Winning 80 seats while facing anti-incumbency and an alliance partner that forced South Indians to speak Hindi is no small feat. Altogether, a party that would have been crippled but for Jayalalithaa has turned over a new leaf through internal churning. The split within the party was perhaps a small price to pay for a better future. On Monday, the AIADMK expelled OPS from the party’s main membership and its position as treasurer.
A similar churning occurred within the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. The Eknath Shinde faction saw 50 of the 55 Shiv Sainiks move from the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to that of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in partnership with the BJP. Uddhav Thackeray was also disappointed with Thane Municipal Corporation where 66 of his 67 corporations joined the Shinde faction. All this in the name of an ideology to which they adhere. A churning that would have seemed impossible in a party led by a Thackeray is now a reality.
Congress now remains Modi’s only self-proclaimed “national” opponent. The truth is that he was barely able to make a dent in the BJP’s electoral base in the last two Lok Sabha elections. He even managed to lose the states he had won. And even the BJP has lowered its volume against Congress, whether it be the “Pappu” jokes or the “Vadra corruption” accusations. Instead, the BJP is now in full frontal attack against the heads of state who pose a greater threat to it than Congress ever did – be it Arvind Kejriwal, Mamata Banerjee, Uddhav Thackeray and now K. Chandrashekar Rao.
How many more years will it take Congress to realize that enough is enough? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
The author is a political observer who tweets @zainabsikander. Views are personal.
(Edited by Prashant)