The drubbings received by the Indian National Congress in the Bihar elections and the by-polls has sparked a yet another mutiny within the grand old party as senior party leaders Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram openly rebelled against the party line. Sibal was particularly harsh in his criticism which led to the Gandhi Family’s minions rain down heavily on Sibal with Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury insinuating that Sibal should look to continue his political career in some other party. Certainly, If Sibal is indeed thrown out of the Congress, the party will never come back to power at the Centre at least for the next 15 years.
As opposition party leaders and Lutyens journalists continue to lament how the INC pulled down the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar which eventually led to the NDA secure a close victory, yet another rebellion of sorts has transpired in the INC with this time around Sibal leading the charge.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Sibal claimed that the people of India don’t consider Congress as a viable alternative while stating that the party is, “in a sorry state of affairs” that has led to its ‘decline.’
He further urged the party to “be brave and willing to recognise them,” as the party was in a decline and the time for introspection was over.
In a move that would have likely irked the Gandhi family, Sibal claimed that he was forced to raise the party’s issues in public, as there was no appropriate forum in the party to express his views. “We are yet to hear from the Congress party their views on our recent performance in Bihar and in the by-elections. Maybe they think all is well and that it should be business as usual,” said Sibal.
Unsurprisingly, the Gandhi family’s minions wasted no time in attacking Sibal with Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot first off the blocks. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was particularly hawkish in his criticism of Sibal’s statements as he said, “If some leaders think that Congress is not the right party for them then they may set up a new party or can join any other party which they think is progressive and according to their interest. But they should not indulge in such embarrassing activities since it can erode the credibility of the Congress.”
He further added, “Such senior leaders should not indulge in such embarrassing sweeping statements. They enjoy proximity to the Gandhi family. They can raise issues before the party leadership or in the right party forum.”
However, Sibal wasn’t alone as P Chidambaram echoed the sentiments of the opposition leaders as he also claimed that the Congress contested on too many seats which eventually became the undoing of the Mahagathbandhan.
“I feel the Congress contested more seats than its organisational strength. The Congress was given 25 seats where the BJP or its allies had been winning for 20 years. The Congress should have refused to contest from these seats. The party should have fielded only 45 candidates,” said the former Finance Minister.
The fact that a senior party leader has insinuated that Sibal would meet the same fate as that of Sanjay Jha presents ominous signs for the party. If Sibal who enjoys close proximity with the Gandhis is indeed ousted from the party, the INC will continue to remain in the Opposition at the Centre for the foreseeable future.
Sibal’s ouster will result in the INC filled with “yes men” who will only act as the lackeys of the Gandhis and refrain from pointing out the glaring leadership inefficiencies from the party top brass.
Now, it is a separate thing that the party performed appallingly in Bihar and the by-elections in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. In fact, under the tutelage of Priyanka Gandhi, the INC ended up losing deposits in four constituencies. However, the fact that the brother-sister duo of Rahul-Priyanka holidaying in Shimla during the counting day goes against the basic tenets of leadership.
It is clear that the future of the INC lies without the Gandhis at the helm and if someone as senior as Sibal is ousted for a dissenting opinion, the party will have to make do with sitting in the opposition benches in the Lok Sabha for the foreseeable future.