It is a historical fact that Congress party has witnessed its revival twice in the past; eras belong to late Mrs Indira Gandhi in 1980 and Sonia Gandhi in 1998 when both leaders revved the organization after having its image at the lowest ebb.
It is irrefutable that Congress' popularity had dipped to the maximum post emergency excesses period, which had given the birth to a combined opposition in the form of Janata Party, and created hatred in the minds of people. But Mrs Gandhi bounced back. Similarly, lack of charismatic leader and tragic end of Rajiv Gandhi had pushed the party in the zone of non Gandhi family members like Narsimha Rao and Sita Ram Kesari at the helm of affairs which became handy
to some ambitious leaders like Arjun Singh, N.D.Tiwari etc., to work for revival of the party but in vain. At this juncture, a reluctant Sonia Gandhi showed courage and commitment to infuse life in the dead organization which was responsible for twin success in 2004 and 2009 parliamentary elections.
Takeaways from CWC
Analysts believe that now Congress is again passing through the worst crisis of leadership since its inception after Sonia Gandhi quit the presidency. But there are three take aways from recently concluded Congress Working Committee which gives some hope of Rahul Gandhi taking over after the compeletion of election schedule which will still take one year. But the situation is at variance with two earlier revivals as there was not an effective and established leader like Narender Modi who knows all tricks of the game to counter opposition to retain power besides winning the confidence of the people on the basis of his achievements.
First, CWC has reposed faith in the fighting capabilities of Rahul Gandhi and his advantage of being from Gandhi family helps him the most and his mother, Sonia Gandhi wants him to lead from the front against Modi hence he has agreed to consider the plea of all members which seems to be a certainty as it is being done with a well -planned strategy.
Second, Sonia Gandhi has rebuffed G23 members not to speak her through media which is a stern warning to them to fall in line especially when majority of them have enjoyed power for decades despite the truth that barring one or two like Bhupinder Singh Hooda, majority of them
are rootless in their respective states.
Third, party leaders and cadres may be optimistic about the chances of ending the uncertainty over having a regular president and till then organization will be in the hands of Sonia Gandhi and reassertion of her authority will add to the confidence of the demoralized set up of the party. Sonia’s message that she is full president confirms her conviction to set the things in order at centre and states which are plagued by internal dissensions. It will also silence the dissenters like Kapil Sibal who were questioning the authority which had been taking crucial decisions like removing the chief minister of Punjab etc. Now, she has conveyed in clear terms that she is in in-charge and responsible for any decision taken by high command.
Observes assert that Congress high command has got its hand full with pending problems and internal dissensions in some states like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka,Haryana etc which warrant solution without delay as wrong signal is percolating down to cadres besides creating bad impression amongst the people. It is a fact that Rahul and Priyanka had handled the Punjab fiasco which resulted in the unceremonious exit of Amrinder Singh and anointment of Navjot Singh Sidhu also backfired though damage control has been done by convincing the maverick leader to withdraw his resignation letter. It will be an uphill task for the high command to force Sidhu to work in tandem with chief minister, Charanjit Singh Channi, a ‘dalit’ leader whose appointment had sent right signal in the state; and it may prove beneficial during March, 2022 assembly polls. Hooda is restive in Haryana hence he may be given responsibility on time unlike previous assembly polls when he got just six months to set things in order even then congress was almost within the reach of snatching power from BJP.
Congress is also facing yet another crisis due to lack of preparedness, resources, and action plan to face assembly polls next year which are very crucial for its rejuvenation and survival. The assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh will also have serious fallout on the ruling BJP because the outcome will set the tone for 2024 Lok Sabha polls, besides bearing on other state polls.
(K.S.Tomar is a national columnist and political analyst based in New Delhi)