After facing another humiliating electoral defeat in the 2019 general elections, speculations over Rahul Gandhi continuing as the Congress President are ripe, both within and outside the party. Congress, this election, might have added a few seats to its total of 44 in 2014 to arrive at a dismal 52 this general election; but nevertheless, the margin of victory has been considerably reduced. Tall leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge, Jyotiraditya Scindia even Rahul Gandhi have lost from their erstwhile strong holds.
With a dismal performance, the ground is open for the blame game between the party cadre. Several top leaders of the Congress are coming out with their analysis of the election outcomes. Some leaders have even blamed the Congress President, Rahul Gandhi and some have praised PM Narendra Modi for his electoral success. However, this unprecedented dissent within the party has been attracting authoritarian actions from the party’s leadership. In a similar incident, senior Congress leader and former MP and MLA from Kerala, AP Abdullakutty came under the radar.
The grand old party on Monday sacked AP Abdullakutty for praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a Facebook post. AP Abdullakutty, in a Facebook post had said that the secret of what made Narendra Modi popular is his Gandhian values. He also praised the Modi government’s several welfare schemes like Swachh Bharat and Ujwala Yojana. He had also made remarks against senior congress leaders. The sight of a fellow Congressman criticizing the leadership and praising PM Modi raised some eyebrows. The grand old party, in a few days of the Facebook post, had activated its damage control mechanism and through an editorial in a mouthpiece by the name of ‘Veekshanam’ said:
“Praising BJP while being inside Congress is completely unacceptable. Like a migratory bird, Abdullakutty came to Congress from CPI(M) riding on hopes of being in power. He is pinning his hopes on the saffron party to migrate there. It is better to drop Abdullakutty who plans to contest as a BJP candidate from Manjeshwar Assembly seat,”
“He (Abdullakutty) was making insulting remarks against senior Congress leaders through the media, thus violating the party discipline,” the Congress’ Kerala unit chief said.
When asked about party’s decision to expel him, he said, “It’s sad news. I expected it from Mullappally Ramachandran (KPCC President). I am not an opportunist. I am a person who took a stand on developmental issues.”
Over the decades, political observers have maintained that Congress’ culture does not allow for dissent against the party leadership especially against the Gandhi-Nehru-Vadra family and this incident just adds a link to the long chain of the party’s culture. Even after this massive electoral whitewash, the party is yet to take any lessons and recent events only point towards perpetuation of the dynastical culture in the grand old party. All the introspective critical comments from within the party are also been treated with blatant disregard and their proponents are being publically humiliated through party actions.
However, this is not the first time Abdullakutty has praised PM Modi. He was also removed from The Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 2009 for praising Modi, who was then the chief minister of Gujarat. Abdullakutty, who was elected to Parliament from Kannur in 1999 and 2004, joined the Congress after that. Nonetheless, the conduct of the grand old party to sack any leader which dissents against the Gandhi-Nehru-Vadra family are surely just signs of insecurity which runs deep in the minds of Congress leadership.