Flowing water is always fresh and potable. Stagnation transforms the water into a stale, muddy mix and turns it into the germination ground of harmful bacteria. The same is true for organisations, especially the political ones. Continuous transformation is one thing that reduces the risk of internal politics in a political party. The Grand Old Party of India has transformed at regular intervals to stay relevant in Indian Politics, while many parties of its era were relegated into annuls of the history. It stayed relevant because whoever controlled the party swiftly kicked out those who were not aligned to the High Command.
When the party draws inspiration from its leaders starting from Mahatma Gandhi, it officially forgets its own leaders before him. And, that is in the DNA of Congress Party. Of course, the current Congress’s DNA does have a signature of Mahatma Gandhi. He was hell of a politician, who knew how to work with systems within the party and outside it. Whether it was forcing Bose out of Congress or favouring Nehru, he did everything, he thought was for the ‘good’ of the party. In a way, his leadership skills were unparalleled. Politics has no space for those who quit the game. And so, in a way, Gandhi created modern Congress exactly the way he wanted it to be. Though not as much as efficient, Nehru could establish his credentials in the party because of the awe he inspired in the immediate aftermath of independence. Except Patel and Ambedkar, he had to fear none including the stalwarts like Rajendra Prasad, Rajaji and even Mookerjee; also, Patel was (more or less) with him.
If exodus of leaders quitting Congress was a continuous affair before Indira, Indira officially performed a purge operation in Congress. In a way, she altered the DNA of the party into a more submissive one. However, the untimely death of Indira Gandhi and the short and chaotic tenure of Rajiv Gandhi allowed the gene to evolve a little bit. This evolution gave India the best Prime Minister it ever had – PV Narasimha Rao. Rao, in an attempt to cleanse the party of its past sins tried hard to kick out the first family that held a vicious grip. But Rao lost 1996 elections. After that It only took two years for the party to again become a submissive entity waiting to be controlled by another Gandhi.
Sonia Gandhi, was propped by a group of Congress leaders without mass base. This group had expertise in politics, administration. All they needed was a person who can help them get votes in an electoral battle. This group was wiser than the group that considered Indira Gandhi a doll. They treated Sonia Gandhi with utmost respect, perhaps more than she deserved for her vote pulling capabilities or political acumen. In less than a decade, they returned the party to power and in the new setup, party president was immune to any administrative mishaps. It was at this juncture; Rahul Gandhi was catapulted into the party organisation – either willingly or unwillingly. In a democracy, no party can rule forever. So, the chances of Congress assuming power are always there i.e., as long as they stay relevant in national politics.
Indira Gandhi grew up observing politics happening in her household, while Rajiv Gandhi considered himself a born royalty. Sonia Gandhi was simply the mascot of the party. Rahul Gandhi was simply being raised to a position where all he had to do was to remain active.
To be fair to Rahul Gandhi, he did try to introduce some organizational structure in the Congress Party. He demanded a bottom-up electoral process that could revive the party. But soon it was clear to him that he was in the party to win elections and become the PM and not to improve or sanitize it. The Congress Coterie wanted him to be another Jawaharlal Nehru, whom the people of India never questioned despite the continuous degradation of the establishment. In their hurry, the new coterie missed a point. That, Rahul Gandhi was no Jawaharlal Nehru and India was hardly the nascent Indian Republic that Nehru ruled.
Also amid the confusion and the tussle between the new and old orders, Rahul Gandhi failed to kick-out those who didn’t think like him. The periodical purge out has not happened in Congress from a long time. The longer the purge is delayed, the more the party would be stale and stagnate.
With the anvil of Narendra Modi on the national scenario, pressure on Rahul and coterie increased exponentially – and so they had to fuse them into one identity. At that point, The party went into pre-2000 mode. The coterie controls the organisation, while the leader remains vote puller.
In between playing the organisational transformer and vote-catcher, Rahul Gandhi had to act as instructed. He knows that he was not much of a public leader. For his mother, it suited even if she read from a script and let other leaders handle interviews. He had to talk on his own, at best remembering from the written script. He was subjected to impromptu questions. And, as expected by the coterie, he failed. The more he failed, the stronger the coterie became. Eventually, the coterie succeeded in making a Pappu out of him. It is a fact that it was Congressmen who celebrated him being called Pappu. Modi too is called Feku by Congressmen, but not by men from his own party.
In this backdrop, Rahul Gandhi will be anointed as The President of Indian National Congress.
He would be elected in another sham election. He cannot afford to rely even on his other not-so-young team mates like Scindia or Pilot. His father relied on his friends and immediately lost his ‘Mr. Clean’ tag.
Whether he likes it or not – he would be the President of Congress. It is something that he will have to live with. And He will not be able to change the party for the next ten years at least, that’s another reality that he will have to live with.
Whether we like him or not – he would be the Prime Minister of India; as and when Congress wins general elections (and it would someday). Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi should decide what he wants to become and how he wants to transform his party. Moreover, not only Modi, even Yogi seems to be an obstacle in his path. The road to power is paved with not only ambitions but ruthless leadership and administrative, manipulative skills. He should first embark on a journey to improve himself.