Looking for a Leader: But for Congress, Mukul Wasnik, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia et al are not the answer
In limiting its leadership contest to either pampered dynasts or predictable yes-men, Congress has shown it has forgotten what leadership is all about.
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It takes a Gandhi to tell the Congress that the Gandhis should not be leading the party — and yet, the party members seem to be hoping against hope that one of the Gandhis — Rahul, Sonia or Priyanka — will help them out of their leadership crisis by either choosing to play musical chairs for the president’s post among themselves or assigning a person whom they deem is fit to take the chair.
Anyone but us: Rahul Gandhi has refused the party's presidentship. He has also ruled out Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi. (Photo: PTI)
This is happening because over the years, the culture of acquiescence has weakened democratic structures within the party.
What else is stopping the party from announcing elections to choose a party president? Remember that the Congress appears totally headless when the BJP is taking giant leaps with historic moves like dissolving the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and ending J&K's statehood.
But despite the storm of uncertainty the Congress party seems lost in, so far, no leader has openly come out to stake claim to the top job. On the contrary, leaders seem busy ruling themselves out of the race. Congress leader from Maharashtra, Milind Deora, is a case in point who, even while proposing the names of Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia for the coveted post, ruled himself out.
It is unlikely that no leader in the party wants to occupy the chair — and yet, no leader has definitively thrown his/her hat in the ring.
The problem seems to be that nobody wishes to be seen as ambitious enough to want to be Congress president.
Politics is a competitive field and yet, Congress politicians seem trained to conceal the fact that they want to win competitions. Nobody becomes Prime Minister or chief minister without wanting to be one and yet, these netas tell us that it is for their party to decide on their candidature and they would be content performing any job assigned to them.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh recently said the Congress' leadership baton must be passed on only to its young Turks while Congressman Shashi Tharoor called for immediate elections. This is all apparent altruism — but the operational word here is 'apparent'.
Only the young: Amarinder Singh has been batting for the Congress to have a young leader. (Photo: Twitter/@RahulGandhi)
How can India’s oldest surviving party not have one leader who wants to lead it from the front and has the guts to say so?
We will come to this question later; first, the question of Deora’s choices — Pilot and Scindia.
Exactly what makes Deora think that Pilot and Scindia can take on the combined might of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah?
Scindia lost his own seat of Guna (Madhya Pradesh) in the 2019 General Elections. Worse, Scindia, who was made in-charge of western UP, failed to ensure even one seat for the party from the region.
Pilot is often credited for winning the 2018 Rajasthan Assembly elections, but the state has always had a ‘revolving door’ political system — the incumbent loses. Despite this, Rajasthan saw such a close fight that it did appear at one point that the incumbent could well return to power. In the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress drew a blank from Rajasthan.
Scindia and Pilot are both political dynasts — much like Deora himself. And in pushing for dynasts again, the Congress is only proving that it has learnt no lessons from its defeat.
Privilege galore: Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora and Jyotiraditya Scindia are all political dynasts. (Photos: IANS)
What the Congress needs to counter the Modi-Shah juggernaut is a grass-roots leader trained in the rugged politics of this country, just like the duo s/he is supposed to take on. But no one will name those leaders in the race. Instead, the names of predictable dynasts or malleable loyalists like Mukul Wasnik will do the rounds.
There is no leadership involved in such a contest. It is the exact opposite, in fact.