Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the Congress leaders from the state units are leaving the party. A series of exit of high-profile leaders has left the party rattled. In a big setback to the Congress in Gujarat, its MLA Asha Patel quit the party on Saturday, accusing the party of factionalism and divisive politics. She resigned as MLA and also quit the party.
Asha Patel also hailed PM Modi. In her resignation letter to party president Rahul Gandhi, she said, “On one hand Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given 10 percent quota for Economically Weaker Section, while the Congress is trying to create a rift between different castes here.”
— Rajendra Trivedi (@trajendrabjp) February 2, 2019
When asked whether she would join the BJP, Asha Patel said that she would take the opinion of the people of her constituency then she will take any decision.
Last year, one of the Gujarat Congress leaders and MLA Kunvarji Bavaliya had also left the party and joined the BJP. He was made Minister Of Water Supply, Animal Husbandry, Rural Housing in Gujarat government.
According to India Today report, Bavaliya was unhappy with the Congress, and he accused the Congress President Rahul Gandhi of playing caste politics. He was also unhappy with the way Congress party was functioning in the state. According to a PTI report, he had said, “The way Rahulji is playing casteist politics, I realised I will not be able to succeed in working in the Congress anymore. I was not getting a chance to work the way I wanted to in the Congress due to constant infighting. This government is moving ahead with a mission, and I will be able to succeed in fulfilling the expectations of people, rural populace, the poor and farmers.”
In Andhra Pradesh, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister under UPA government Kishore Chandra Deo quit the Congress on Sunday. Deo said that Congress President Rahul Gandhi had not even given him time to meet since November. He said, “We are in February now. From November, I have been seeking time to meet the Congress president. Of course, I appreciate the fact that he was busy with election campaigning. But I am sure that within that hectic schedule several people met him.”
Deo also said, “In the last 4-5 months, people who are in charge are doing everything they can to see that the party is completely liquidated. This is not something which has come suddenly. I have waited for four-and-a-half years patiently that they will do something for the party. I have apprised the high command, written a note to them. When Chandy came as general secretary, I thought he will do something. But unfortunately he has also fallen into the trap of that four-five people who actually have no political base but are controlling the party in Andhra.” He also added, “The only reason for my resignation is that what will I do, my party is not visible in Andhra Pradesh. I will not contest for Parliament… but my staying in this party, if I am not even heard, if my views are not taken into consideration… that means I am unwanted. What will I do staying?… I have always been in central politics. I have never been an MLA or in state politics. But this is my state and this is my base. And my party does not exist here and if my party does not listen to me… they don’t need to implement everything… but at least acknowledge.”
In Odisha, former Congress MLA Jogesh Singh officially joined the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Wednesday, three weeks after he quit the Congress. He quit the Congress on ‘moral ground’ on January 18 after he was suspended by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) for making alleged anti-party remarks. He resigned as a legislator on January 22, and also declared that he will not attend meetings of Rahul Gandhi in Bhubaneswar. According to The Indian Express report, his entry into the BJD coincided with Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Odisha to address rallies at Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district and Rourkela in Sundrgarh district on Wednesday. Jogesh Singh represented Sundargarh Assembly seat.
Before Jogesh Singh, last month, the Congress’ Working President and Jharsuguda MLA Naba Kishore Das had also resigned from the primary membership of the party. He is a popular leader in Jharsuguda district. Under his leadership, the Congress swept Jharsuguda during the rural election in February 2017.
And now, probably the most severe jolt has come from senior Congress leader Milind Deora who has expressed his displeasure publicly over the infighting within the party. He is the latest to join the disgruntled Congress leaders. In a series of tweets, he claimed that the infighting was threatening to erode the party’s “base in Mumbai”.
@INCIndia is leading a powerful, united campaign across India. Infighting cannot, and should not, be allowed to threaten our base in Mumbai. I appeal to all Congress leaders in Mumbai to unite as a team. We owe this much to our party and to Congress President @RahulGandhi.
— Milind Deora (@milinddeora) February 5, 2019
He also said, “The Mumbai Congress cannot become a cricket pitch for sectarian politics, with leaders pitted against one other.”
In a city like Mumbai, which is our economic and cultural capital, we need to bring people together. The Mumbai Congress cannot become a cricket pitch for sectarian politics, with leaders pitted against one other.
— Milind Deora (@milinddeora) February 5, 2019
According to The Hindu report, his tweets were a response to the high command’s “lack of interest” in demand for a change of guard. It has quoted the party leader and former minister saying, “When we last met Mr. Gandhi, he assured us the issue will be addressed. We had complained about Mr. Nirupam’s style of functioning, his attempts to take money and distribute tickets during the corporation elections in Mumbai. He has been running the city unit like his fiefdom.”
Barely few months before 2019 Lok Sabha elections, these series of exits and disenchantment within the party state units point to the fact that the grip of central command over its state units has substantially weakened owing to weak leadership. Weak leadership of Rahul Gandhi combined with weak state units is a recipe of disaster.