Rahul Gandhi, the party scion is behaving as the spoilt child of the Congress party. Ever since the announcement of Navjot Singh Sidhu as the Punjab State Unit Chief, bypassing Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s diktat, one can be assured that those appearing to grow taller than Rahul and in this case Captain, are simply rooted out, undermined and later cut to size.
Amarinder Singh, the two-time Chief Minister, time and again told the party high command that pushing Sidhu to the top party position against his wishes could have consequences. As reported by TFI, in a letter recently shot out by Captain to Congress matriarch Sonia Gandhi, the CM remarked that the political fallout of such a move could be for both party and the government.
Captain wrote in the letter, “The party and the government may both have to bear the consequences of such a move,”
While Captain has quietly accepted Sidhu’s elevation, at the moment — the fissures within the party are expected to grow wider, as the assembly elections dates draw closer. There is no denying the fact that Captain has carved a separate identity for himself, independent to that of Congress. Singh is not a Yes-Man who nods his head to any directive passed along by the party high command.
Captain had left Congress after Operation Blue Star in 1984 and only when he came back to the party, Congress was able to rejuvenate itself in Punjab. It wouldn’t be a hyperbole to say that without him, Congress would have lost the 2017 elections and without him, the 2022 election appear a lost battle too.
The Gandhi clan knows it and feared that if Sidhu wasn’t made the state party president, a boisterous Captain would grow in confidence and eventually come for Rahul Gandhi. The musical chair contest between the mother-son duo of Sonia-Rahul for the post of Congress President post explains how much they want the power to remain within the doors of 10, Janpath.
Thus, Sidhu who had always been close and loyal to the Gandhi family was used as a proxy by Rahul Gandhi to send an indirect message to Captain that he might be ambitious but he cannot rise above and touch anyone having the Gandhi surname.
Similarly in Karnataka, infighting amongst the party ranks was the reason Congress-JD(S) alliance lost the trust vote in Karnataka Assembly in 2019 and eventually ceded power to BJP’s BS Yediyurappa. With two years to go for the next assembly elections, fissures have started to widen in Karnataka Congress once again as Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar factions battle for supremacy in the party.
Both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar are seen as the potential CM faces if the party returns to power in 2023. However, by agreeing to let HD Kumaraswamy become the CM, in order to keep the BJP out of the state, Siddaramaiah had made quite a sacrifice and thus the senior leader was expecting a direct endorsement from the top Congress brass as the CM face this time around.
However, while the kerfuffle within the party continues to rise, the Gandhi clan is unwilling to come down and restore the parity. Both leaders are popular and could be potentially dangerous for Rahul Gandhi in the future and thus the top family has decided to stay away so that one can cut the other to size and make the work easier.
And this is not the story of a couple of states, the Gandhi family is presiding over the conflict in Chhattisgarh as well. Like Captain Amarinder Singh, Bhupesh Baghel, the state CM won the previous assembly election based on his work and image, not on the Gandhi family’s superficial credentials. T.S. Singh Deo, a powerful minister in the state cabinet is vying for the top position in the state and Congress’s first family is allowing the conflict to widen.
It is being rumoured that to cut both party leaders to size, Rahul Gandhi has suggested a power-sharing formula where each of the two leaders will reign for two and a half years. Such an arrangement will help Gandhi to keep Baghel at an arm’s length.
Meanwhile, reported extensively by TFI, in Rajasthan, a coming of age young leader in Sachin Pilot was kept away from a central position because it would have meant a tall leader rising in the Western State and dwarfing the stature of Rahul. Ashok Gehlot is the obedient and subservient sepoy who has no ambition to outmuscle the Gandhi clan. Seemingly in the last stretch of his political career, Gehlot wants to reign in the shadow of Gandhi and peacefully retire. And thus, Pilot has been put in his place for the last one and a half years while his compatriot in Jyotiraditya Scindia takes charge of a meaty cabinet post.
History is replete with such examples where Congress and its top family stomped on any ambitious leader and their uprising. Mamata Banerjee, the current CM of West Bengal, once loitered in the compounds of 10, Janpath, looking for a more decisive say in the national politics, but was ultimately shot down. As a result, she took off, launched her own party and is now a three-time CM. Yesteryear political stalwarts like PV Narasimha Rao, Arjun Singh, VP Singh are the other specimens that point to this power play tradition prevalent within the Gandhi clan.
The game is simple, don’t rise above any Gandhi family member and you’ll have an easy tide in the party but once you do the unthinkable, the mighty crown family will come baying for your blood.