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“Without The Gandhis, The Congress Would Be Much Easier To Kill”

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The Gandhis are blamed for the Congress’ downfall, but will dropping them help the party regain its former glory?

Like the Father, Son and Donkey story, these days, everybody, including the BJP, offers unsolicited advice for the reversal of the dwindling fortunes of the Congress Party. It has been said that Congress’ only problem is weak leadership at the top and that Congress will start winning elections as soon as the Gandhis (Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka) leave the party.

However, given several Congress leaders switched their allegiance to BJP in recent years, there is no guarantee that the next leader will not merge the Congress with the BJP.

Slipped away opportunities to form governments in Goa and Manipur, where Congress emerged as the single largest party, and the governments that fell in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka suggest that no national leader wants to shoulder any responsibility in the absence of the Gandhis.

In July 2020, the Rajasthan government came very close to collapse but was saved only when the Gandhis finally intervened.

Are the Gandhis Really Weak Leaders?

If the Gandhis were so weak and irrelevant, the BJP would not be so paranoid and obsessed with them. Regardless of their electoral performance today, BJP knows that Congress and Gandhis are the only real threat, at least at the national level.

I would compare the Congress without the Gandhis to Karna of Mahabharat without his kavach and kundal. Without the Gandhis, Congress would be much easier to kill. So, bullying and enticing Congress to dump the Gandhis is in BJPs interest and not Congress’.

I despise the Congress and the Gandhis myself for what they did to my state of Andhra Pradesh just before they lost power in 2014. However, bullying anyone into leaving politics is undemocratic and poor taste.

Rahul, Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi
The Gandhis.

The arguments against the Gandhis are incoherent and contradictory. They are accused of being too weak to control the party and of preventing other leaders from growing, in the same breath. Could the Syndicate stop Indira Gandhi from growing? Could L K Advani stop Narendra Modi from growing?

The Gandhis are expected to make way for newer and stronger leadership but stay on to support the new leader. Why would the new strong leader need the support of the weak Gandhis? Such an experiment during P V Narasimha Rao’s tenure as PM and party president had already left a bitter taste.

Congress Members Want Power But No Responsibility

The Congress leaders are used to power handed over to them, without working for it. After all, it was the Gandhis who won the elections in 1991, 2004 and 2009. Whatever may be the circumstances, none of the Gandhis held any constitutional positions and allowed the others to enjoy the kursi, during those 15 years.

These leaders now feel like a fish out of water but don’t have the drive. They expect the Gandhis to get their act together and win elections but are reluctant to shoulder that responsibility themselves. After several months of existence, the G23 was nowhere to be found during the Tamil Nadu, Bengal and Kerala elections. It was up to the Gandhis and the local leadership to fight it out.

The expectation that Gandhis hold party elections without participating, train and nurture the new leaders and then disappear into the wilderness is unreasonable. Would the new leaders be as gracious, or would they treat the Gandhis like BJP now treats L K Advani and M M Joshi?


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Nobody handed Mahatma Gandhi the Congress presidency and millions of volunteers and instructed him to get our independence. In 1919 when Rowlatt Acts were imposed, Gandhi seized on the vacuum created by the death of his mentor Gopala Krishna Gokhale and the absence of Bal Gangadhar Tilak from the country to rally Indians against the tyranny of the colonial rulers.

Today, nobody even recognises the name of the Congress President at that time. People followed Gandhi because they were inspired by him and not because some Congress President ordered them to do so.

Ideological Bankruptcy

In my opinion, Congress’ problem is not leadership but ideological bankruptcy. People are not inspired by leaders themselves but by their ideology. People rallied behind Mahatma Gandhi and later Jawaharlal Nehru because they were inspired by what they represented and stood for.

Today Congress’ only identity is, “We are not the BJP.” Without any ideology, Congress has been drifting whichever way the wind blows, like a rudderless ship. Such a party not only fails to inspire people but is dangerous for the country. It can be and had been hijacked by vested interests, including the BJP.

Today, BJP wins elections against Congress, not because of strong leadership but its ideology. One may not agree with that ideology or believe that the stated ideology is just a cover for a sinister agenda. But the BJPs own ranks believe that ideology and are inspired by it.

Congress Too Scared to Own Jawaharlal Nehru

nehru and indira gandhi
Congress has abandoned Nehru and their idol is Indira Gandhi.

Everyone that I personally know, including my family and friends, believe that Nehru destroyed their lives and laid India to waste during his 17-year tenure. For the record, most of these people have done extremely well in life, whether in India or abroad.

The Congress’ men and women have grown up in the same environment as the rest of the Indians and believe this narrative themselves. This has been a tectonic shift after PV Narasimha Rao, who never kept his admiration for Nehru a secret.

Congress has since abandoned Nehru and will not touch Nehru even with a ten-foot pole. Their idol is Indira Gandhi. Even Sonia Gandhi never met Nehru.

BJP, with help from “modern historians“, has not only spread misinformation about Nehru but accused Congress of favouring Nehru and his family over others. The fact that Congress expelled Nehru’s daughter twice from the party seems to be forgotten.

Pavan Varma, who was once with Janata Dal (United) and now a member of the All India Trinamool Congress, appears on TV debates with a picture of Nehru in the background. Any Congress spokesperson displaying such a gesture towards Nehru is unimaginable.

Congress Stands for Nothing

Today, Congress doesn’t even pretend to represent anything except for “Democracy” and “Secularism”. It will neither own up to any values it held dearly during the early years of independence nor does the party have any courage to defend Nehru’s actions publicly.

As I have already written in the context of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, Congress’ claim of commitment to democracy is a falsehood. Further, their brand of secularism, aptly termed as pseudo-secularism by critics, is very different from Gandhi’s or Nehru’s pluralism which represented not just religion but the region, language and other hues.

In a recent interview, Pavan Varma has suggested that the Trinamool Congress will embrace the values of the freedom movement and the early years of independence. However, whether Pavan Varma has enough influence in his new party and if Nehru will get his due in a new party is yet to be seen.

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