Their susceptibility for absolute power has been a known matter in the Congress circle, but their being close friends of Rahul Gandhi simply provided them with the openings to stage a coup and manoeuvre the situation to suit them. While Scindia quit the Congress and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in his pursuit to become the chief minister of MP, Pilot too is contemplating to resign for grabbing the chair with the support of his new friend BJP.

Scindia quitting the Congress or Pilot planning to switch his loyalty is not merely about individuals or personality issues. It points to much deeper malaise. While it unravels that the Nehru family has lost its control on the party, the others are only a bunch of onlookers having no moral authority. It at the same times untangles the fact Rahul Gandhi by resigning from the presidentship has virtually crippled the party and turned it rudderless.

The inability of the Congress leadership to address this structural issue has simply aggravated the crisis. The rank and files looks to the leadership for guidance and lead them during the period of crisis. Rahul Gandhi through his statements and tweets might have embarrassed the prime minister Narendra Modi but he has miserably failed to put the BJP on defensive. Rahul has in fact been completing the task of the BJP of making India Congress Mukta.

During the UPA rule the Congress leadership completely finished the regional leadership and helped emerge a group of sycophants and immature careerist youth leaders. These people were devoid of the basic principles of political economy. They simply turned the party into their fiefdom. These leaders changed the nature of social and economic composition of the party. A group of new power brokers emerged. These people have come to realise the importance of having direct intervention in the power house rather than depending on others and playing the second fiddle.

Narendra Modi coming to power in 2014 made the businessmen, middlemen and contractors, who had no clue what the Congress meant as an ideological force, realise the importance of power. Even in this grim backdrop what was quite interesting to watch that the Dalits and Muslims kept their faith in the Congress. But it was irony that the Congress leadership failed to realise this and virtually betrayed them. The ill-treatment meted out to this section by the BJP is testimony to this fact.

On its part the BJP grabbed the opportunity and offered political representation to the new leadership of the Congress at the rural level while pursuing its social agenda. The BJP used its nationalism agenda to further coerce this section and consolidate its base. Its effort was suitably supported by the Congress which conceded its space to the BJP.

In Rajasthan the chief minister Ashok Gehlot has been desperately trying to retrieve the situation. He may succeed for the time being. But the schism has endangered the existence of the party in that state. Though Congress, which had lost Madhya Pradesh to the BJP after a similar long-drawn battle between the old guard and the new leaders, claimed that there was no threat to the Rajasthan government, the fact remains that a sense of mistrust would dictate the future politics.

Shockingly Scindia who is yet to be accorded due respect by the BJP has tried to rub salt to the wound of Pilot by saying; “Sad to see my erstwhile colleague, Sachin Pilot too, being sidelined and persecuted by Rajasthan CM, Ashok Gehlot. Shows that talent and capability find little credence in the Congress”. It obviously implied that forces inimical to Congress have been quite active and determined to finish it even at the cost of their purging from the political institution.

Gehlot could have saved the situation by restraining the police from issuing summons to Pilot. This act has simply projected him as victim. This will weaken the Congress allegation against BJP of engineering split in the party by offering a staggering amount of Rs 20 crores to an MLA. This will simply add to strength of Pilot to be more vocal about his claim to become the chief minister.

Amazingly while Rahul Gandhi was discussing geopolitics and the pandemic with a Harvard professor when some of his party MLAs in Rajasthan were allegedly negotiating a price to wreck the Congress’s prospects in the June 19 Rajya Sabha polls. But he remained oblivion to this development.

The recent postures of Rahul Gandhi gives rise to trepidations that he has been waiting for complete decimation of the current structure of the party before launching the drive to resurrect a new organisation. Yet another reason for not showing his concern might have been his desire to facilitate such power hungry people leave the party. Nevertheless these two possibilities are simply of utopian nature. Once the Congress loses its individuality, ideology and base to the BJP, it would be the toughest proposition for the Congress to retrieve the lost ground and glory.

No amount of shift in the political discourse or inducting new generation or altering the mode and culture could salvage the situation for the Congress. It is argued that a new Congress must replace the old dispensation; it means that representation from the OBCs and intermediary castes, Dalits and Muslims should be encouraged to run the party. No doubt the party requires new and younger faces to catch the imagination of the people and also to appeal to the nation. But this must not be based on the principle of ad hocism.

Little doubt Rahul Gandhi has to come out of his cocoon and take the initiative to revive the party at this crucial juncture. He must take the lesson from Chhatisgarh and allow the regional leadership grow. Bhupesh Baghel a leader of OBC background mobilized local identities and culture as an antidote to Hindutva. He must realise that Congress has to combat the skill and strategy of Modi and Amit Shah. It is an open secret that the move of Pilot has been taken with the blessings of the top BJP leaders.

It is said that the Congress is contemplating to oust armchair leaders and replace them with the Grassroot leaders but it is not so easy. The Congress has to sweat out severely to do away with this baggage politics. Inertia within the party would lead to its demise. But in the existing situation Congress has to decide its priorities. Shedding nepotism and the high command culture is going to be tough for the Congress. Surprisingly this culture has also inflicted the BJP. The challenge before the Congress is frightening. The immediate task however before it is to take the initiative for forming a broader left and democratic alliance to combat the rightist onslaught. (IPA Service)