‘Kisi ko itna bhi mat darao ki uska dar hi khatam ho jaye.’ This is a famous dialogue from the film Mary Kom. Here, we don’t comment on the movie but on Congress, as it has been inflicted with the same phenomenon. The Congress party is plagued by the dynastic dominance of the Nehru-Gandhi family. All that the supposed high command, the Nehru-Gandhi family, has done is, they have nurtured loyalists. However, the recent incidents suggest that the concept of Gandhi loyalists is nearing extinction and there exists no high command to which leaders report.
Gehlot and his supporters refuse to listen to the Gandhis
Before leaving for her foreign tour in August along with her children Rahul and Priyanka, Sonia Gandhi met with Congress old fox Ashok Gehlot behind closed doors and asked him to take over the reins of the Congress.
In the follow-up, Gehlot decided to contest for the Congress party’s presidential elections. Gehlot was asked to leave the CM post, citing the ‘One Person, One Post’ resolution that Congress took up during the Udaipur declaration.
This triggered a massive political crisis in the state of Rajasthan and more than 80 MLAs of the Congress camp submitted their resignation to the assembly speaker CP Joshi. The MLAs were protesting against Gehlot’s removal from the CM post and the canvassing for Sachin Pilot.
Ashok Gehlot was often addressed as a Gandhi loyalist. However, with this move he has once again proved that Congress party does not stand at the national level and the Congress CMs operate as independent mini PMs, catering to their state units.
How Congress lost its high-command
Committing one scam after another like 2G, commonwealth, the list of scams and frauds under the UPA 2.0 is non-ending. The diminishing of Congress has been a gradual process that began with the advent of UPA 2.0 and hit its surge during 2012-2014.
The leaders who had invested decades in the Congress party were side-lined to make way for the dynasts born with a silver spoon. This is what harmed the Congress at the party level and led to decline in the credibility of the Congress High Command.
Congress leadership failed at talent management and ended up losing their big names. To add on, the ones still associated with the party formed the G-23 grouping, demanding reforms. The leadership that claims to have got the party through their will failed at their role, thus forcing Congress towards a bleak future. Congress, again and again, received drubbing in the electoral spectrum and this forced the state level leaders function independently to save their own heads.
2014 onwards, How Congress CMs became mini PMs
With the Modi wave, Congress and its netas realised that it was just impossible to sustain at the national level with the weak central leadership of the Gandhis. The leaders, defying the party high command, ran for their states and CM chairs.
The most prominent and recent example is from Punjab. The tussle between Navjot Singh Sidhu and then CM Captain Amrinder Singh was always over the matter of seeking validation from the Gandhis and Sidhu challenged the authority of Captain. This was the reason behind the disrespectful change of guards that took place in Punjab.
Taking a lesson from the neighbour’s book, the former CM of Haryana has opened his arsenal against the Gandhis, despite being a long time Gandhi loyalist. Hooda was also among those who attacked the Congress party over opposition to abolition of Article 370.
Hooda was also ready to sacrifice Gandhi son-in-law Robert Vadra, and came across as the last defence of Robert Vadra in DLF land grab case. As Bhupinder Singh Hooda drifts away from the Congress Gandhi leadership, chances are he might throw Robert Vadra and the whole Gandhi lot under the bus for forcing corrupt land deals.
The curious case of Gogoi and Rangaswamy
The Congress party has lost many young and dynamic leaders over leadership issues, and it is not limited to the Gehlot-Pilot crisis. A similar script had played out in the southern part of India, that is Puducherry, when the sitting Congress CM N Rangaswamy was forcibly removed to appoint V Vaithilingam.
Rangaswamy left the Congress party, formed NR Congress and bounced back to power. Through this he told the Congress that the grand old party was surviving in the union territory only on his shoulders. Rangaswamy is the current CM of the Union Territory (in partnership with the BJP) and Congress holds no base in the state. Till he remained in the party, he kept the Gandhis in check.
The same was the case with Tarun Gogoi. Gogoi during his chief ministership had turned the Gandhis into a political nobody in Assam. While he had turned Assam into his own fiefdom, it was not a surprise in Gogoi’s Assam to see posters of Congress and Gogoi with no Gandhi on it.
Gogoi often missed Congress high command meetings and he deliberately did not allow the second line of leadership to grow in the state. Till Gogoi was in the state, the doors remained closed for the Gandhis.
Understanding the Baghel way of functioning
Bhupesh Baghel, the Chhattisgarh CM, who enjoys pan-India popularity. Baghel is an OBC leader from Chhattisgarh plains. He became the party chief after the vacuum that the killing of Vidya Charan Shukla, Nand Kumar Patel and Mahendra Karma had left. He became the CM of the state by cutting the chances of TS Singhdeo.
But anyone who thinks that Baghel is the Congress’ CM in the state, can be considered as a naysayer, as far as Indian politics is considered. Because it is based on the popularity and schemes of Bhupesh Baghel upon which the fortunes of Congress rests.
Baghel, unlike the other Gandhi loyalists, never engages in a tussle with the centre and has been availing full benefits of the central schemes. Baghel has been running a government of his own with no say of the mother-son duo.
There are ample of examples that prove that the Congress CMs who can be counted on fingers seek no validation from the supposed high command and are acting as mini-PMs of their own states.
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