Ever since the devastating defeat on May 23 faced by the Indian National Congress, workers of the party are in disarray but not more than their commanders at the top. The top brass of the Congress is on the lookout for a scapegoat, amid calls for the Congress President Rahul Gandhi to resign, and it looks like they have found one. The head of the Data Analytics Department of the Congress, Praveen Chakravarty is being projected as a villainous fraud who duped Congress and Rahul Gandhi into believing that a massive political resurgence was in their cards.
The hunt for the guy that takes the fall started with Rahul Gandhi blaming former Union Minister P Chidambaram, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, quite ironically, for having placed their respective sons before the party’s interests. All the seats that Priyanka Gandhi campaigned in were lost barring Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad in Kerala and Sonia Gandhi’s Raebareli. Even Amethi, Rahul Gandhi’s longstanding bastion was lost to the BJP’s Smriti Irani but Priyanka Gandhi, in a speech in Raebareli, was quick to rebuke the workers and threatened to find those who did not perform. She even blamed the top brass of the party for allegedly having left Rahul Gandhi to fend for himself and that “No one supported Congress president in taking forward the narrative of Rafale and ‘chowkidar chor hai'”.
Pretentious resignations clearly did not do the trick, and a stern and valid reason to stay head of the party still evades Rahul Gandhi. But until the bitter truth does not get buried again, Praveen Chakravarty’s failures in assessing the pulse of the nation have come to the fore, perhaps with the hope that the Gandhis’ stark inefficiencies are overshadowed.
In the last few days, two big investigative stories have come out all quoting anonymous sources from within the party. The theme is similar in both the stories- Praveen Chakravarty misled the Congress. He has been blamed for ‘working in silos’, ‘being arrogant’, ‘un-cooperative’ and other such epithets. In fact, in the ET story, one party insider even terms him a ‘super president’ of the party for the last six months, essentially saying everything that happened in the Congress party was done through Chakravarty and he was the single point of contact of Congress party president with the rest of the party and the real world. Hence, Rahul Gandhi could not make clear decisions as Chakravarty was misleading him. A Sunday Guardian story even calls Chakravarty a ‘mole of BJP’, quoting a Congress leader.
Chakravarty had parented Project Shakti wherein a massive database of party workers and supporters was to be created. Shakti required registrations in lakhs from every state and was set out as major tasks for state party workers who are alleged to have faked large chunks of the database to meet their targets. One primary cause for this mess was that Shakti lacked a unique identity verification method and ironically, Chakravarty is said to have earlier worked under Nandan Nilekani, Aadhar’s chief architect. He should have seen it coming but more so other leaders of the grand old party should have smacked the placebos being fed to Rahul Gandhi right off his hand if that’s what it takes a party president to finally open his eyes to the mood of the people on the ground. This screams the lack of true leaders and democracy in the Congress and therefore we might just understand why their work is half-hearted, and their campaign issues, banal: loud but banal.
Chakravarty is accused of having been parroting whatever the prince found solace in including his predictions that the Congress could win 180 seats in the Lok Sabha elections and that he created an echo-chamber for Congress leaders but it appears that the Congress did everything it could to avoid engaging with the masses at the grass-root level.
The pattern is clear. Rahul Gandhi’s inefficiencies and dearth of credible achievements to bank on come around to haunt him every now and then and this time, since the Gandhis are clearly not going to take the fall, Praveen Chakravarty, a failure himself but not a bigger failure than the party president, has been locked as the nemesis to rally around against and the masses are being made to believe that the top leadership of the party could not make informed decisions since they were being fed misleading information from an overpaid IT guy. It could be possible that the whisper campaign against Praveen Chakravarty is not spontaneous reporting but an agenda of party insiders. Both the reports have relied heavily on the information provided by the leaders of Congress. This certainly has the hallmark of a concerted campaign to shirk responsibility for the debacle and focus on one individual’s doing.