The Modi government’s surprising move to abrogate Article 370 has caught Congress party completely off-guard and as such there seems to be no consensus in the party as to how to respond to that. Perhaps the clearest indication of this dilemma was evident during the speech of Congress leader of the party, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, in Lok Sabha.
Don’t miss Sonia Gandhi’s reaction when Adhir Ranjan Choudhury made his ludicrous blunder in Lok Sabha earlier today: pic.twitter.com/STJxuEmgbI
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) August 6, 2019
Toeing a line almost identical to that of Pakistan, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury stated, “Our question is how can this be considered as an internal matter? Some days ago, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar spoke to (US secretary of state Mike) Pompeo and then too it was said that this was a bilateral issue. We need to resolve this. You will have to clarify on this. Whether it is internal, bilateral and whether you can do it on your own or not.”
More than the response of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the reaction of Sonia Gandhi caught people’s attention. It seemed as if Sonia Gandhi has been caught completely off-guard and was not aware of the remarks his own leader of the party in Lok Sabha was going to take on the issue. And this, precisely, demonstrates the leadership crisis in Congress and how it is undermining the party’s stance on issues leading to confusion.
In fact, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is not alone in singing a different tune within the party on this vital issue.
The high command of the party has decided to oppose the Modi government’s move to abolish Article 370 but many other leaders chose to differ from the decision. Some leaders chose to support government’s decision as they see it as a matter of national importance. However, the elitist top brass of the Congress is not ready to support the abrogation and bifurcation.
Some prominent state leaders like Raebareli MLA unconditionally supported the Modi government’s decision, some supported the decision but criticized the process, and few other gave tacit approval to abolition personally but clarified that they will support whatever central leadership decides.
Would have been better if constitutional process had been followed. No questions could have been raised then. Nevertheless, this is in our country’s interest and I support this.
— Jyotiraditya M. Scindia (@JM_Scindia) August 6, 2019
“I support the move on #JammuAndKashmir & #Ladakh and its full integration into union of India. Would have been better if constitutional process had been followed. No questions could have been raised then. Nevertheless, this is in our country’s interest and I support this,” tweeted Jyotiraditya Scindia, former union minister and popular face of Congress in North India. He supported the decision of the Modi government with a rider.
Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) general secretary NP Singh was not subtle in his support and he chose to resign from the party over its decision to opposition of abolition of Article 370. “In view of the stand taken by the Congress party on the scrapping of articles 370 and 35A in Kashmir in Parliament, which is against the national interest and also against unity and integrity of our country, I resign from the post of general secretary of UPCC and also from the party’s primary membership with immediate effect,” said Singh in his resignation letter.
Deepender Hooda, a senior leader of Haryana Congress and three times MP has also supported the move but asked the government to it should be implemented in peaceful and trustworthy environment. ‘I have opined before that Article 370 is irrelevant in the 21st century and it should be removed. The abolition is crucial to the integrity of the country and beneficial for the people of Jammu & Kashmir’, tweeted Hooda.
मेरा पहले से ये विचार रहा है कि 21वी सदी मे अनुच्छेद 370 का औचित्य नही है और इसको हटना चाहिये।ऐसा देश की अखण्डता व जम्मू-कश्मीर की जनता जो हमारे देश का अभिन्न अंग है के हित मे भी है।
मगर पूर्णत: मौजूदा सरकार की ज़िम्मेदारी है की इस का क्रियान्वरण शांति व विश्वास के वातावरण मे हो pic.twitter.com/6A7i1l5KNn
— Deepender S Hooda (@DeependerSHooda) August 5, 2019
Milind Deora, former Union Minister and a prominent face of Maharashtra Congress was more subtle is his support. He asked the parties to put aside ideological fixations and debate over the issue which is related to ‘sovereignty’ of the country. He also tweeted a counterview written by left-liberal academic Pratap Bhanu Mehta.
Very unfortunate that Article 370 is being converted into a liberal vs conservative debate.
Parties should put aside ideological fixations & debate what’s best for India’s sovereignty & federalism, peace in J&K, jobs for Kashmiri youth & justice for Kashmiri Pandits.
— Milind Deora मिलिंद देवरा (@milinddeora) August 5, 2019
“BJP thinks it is going to Indianise Kashmir. Instead, we will see, potentially, the Kashmirisation of India”
— Milind Deora मिलिंद देवरा (@milinddeora) August 6, 2019
United we stand! Jai Hind #Article370,” tweeted Aditi Singh, MLA Raebareli Sadar and a popular leader of Congress party in Uttar Pradesh. When a user pointed out that “Aap to Congressi ho” which literally translates into ‘you are Congress member’, Singh replied that “Main ek Hindustani hoon” which translates into ‘I am Indian’.
United we stand!
— Aditi Singh (@AditiSinghINC) August 5, 2019
Congress chief whip in Rajya Sabha, Bhubaneswar Kalita has resigned over the party’s stand on Modi government’s decision to abolish Article 370. “I have resigned from the Rajya Sabha membership today,” tweeted Kalita. According to Kalita, “whip was against the nation’s sentiments.” In the resignation letter, he also said, “The Congress leadership is trying to completely destroy the party. No one can stop the Congress party from destruction.”
I have resigned from the Rajya Sabha membership today. #Assam
— Bhubaneswar Kalita (@BKalitaAssam) August 5, 2019
These leaders of Congress party, unlike Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, are aware of the sentiments of the common people and have supported the decision of the government. These leaders know that almost every commoner of the country wants Kashmir to be an ‘integral’ part of India.
The ‘elitist’ and ‘feudal’ top brass of the Congress have failed to recognize increasing belief of ‘New India’ in meritocracy performance based competitive politics. The top brass of the party is filled with semi-feudal leaders and therefore it is often dubbed as ‘semi feudal party’. If the Congress party does not choose to ‘realign’ itself on the ideological spectrum, soon the party will die.
The party continued to dynastic politics and kept the unpopular Nehru Gandhi family at the top. It failed to feel the pulse of the nation which became vehemently opposed to dynastic politics over the years.
The lack of strong and popular central leadership has made the Congress party a liberal debating group where everyone has their opinion on ideological issues. If the Congress party does not choose to ‘realign’ itself on the ideological spectrum, and provide a strong non dynastic leadership at the top, soon the party will die.