The sooner Rahul Gandhi realises the need for using creative energies of his party men and women to evolve an effective crisis management strategy, the better. Or else, serious dissensions in poll bound states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat will make things much worse for the Congress. Especially worrisome from the Congress party perspective as poor showing in the assembly elections would further weaken its claims of leadership of the opposition space in the 2024 Lok Sabha general elections. Which is why, the Congress High Command in its own interests forms a crisis management group, empowered to take any decisions it must to rejuvenate the party, and also to retain talent that is heading for greener pastures in the BJP.
A thorough overhaul of the party setup and its working is imperative and also a must to send right signals to the leaders and cadres of the party at the state and central level. Rahul Gandhi must without any delay take over the reigns of the party, as he has gained significant traction among the masses for his constant targeting of the Modi government for its alleged mishandling of the Covid19 pandemic.
Acting president Sonia Gandhi must appoint a regular president, who can infuse new energy into party cadres to take on the BJP. It is the right time as the BJP is struggling hard for a makeover of its image that has taken a beating. It may be pertinent to point out that Team Rahul has dithered and unable to deliver, unlike Sanjay Gandhi’s supporters like Amrinder Singh, Kamal Nath, Ram Lal Thakur, ex CM Himachal Pradesh, who emerged as strong leaders in their own right.
Congress lost Rahul Gandhi’s close aide Jitin Prasad, a Brahmin leader from Uttar Pradesh, to the BJP and may lose Sachin Pilot, Navjyot Singh Sidhu. Many others like Milind Deora, Sandeep Dikshit, Manish Tewari, Madhu Yaski Goud, Deepender Hooda and RPN Singh are said to be far from satisfied. Pilot was retained with promises, none of which have been fulfilled so far, and operation topple Gehlot could happen anytime. Punjab too does not seem very happy for the Congress at this point in time.
Absence of a single point, crisis management team, and a strategy, is responsible for the exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was boxed in by former MP CM Kamalnath and Digivjay Singh. Scindia headed for the BJP as some elders in the party describe it as embedded philosophy of corporate culture and sense entitlement as most of them paradropped into positions of power and never had to struggle their way upwards from lower echelons of the Congress.
In Punjab, situation is very critical as CM Captain Amrinder Singh, a leader in his own right, if ill treated by the Congress high command it would play into the hands of the opposition. In Uttar Pradesh, CM Aditya Nath is seen ignoring the diktats of BJP high command and is ignoring demands to accommodate PM’s confident, Arvind Kumar Sharma, ex Gujrat cadre bureaucrat, into the cabinet.
Haryana unit too faces a dismal scenario as former CM Bhpinder Hooda is one of the G23 members who demanded the overhaul of the organisation. Hooda could have captured power in Haryana had there been Crisis Management Strategy in place to declare him as the face one year in advance. The high command is still trying to bank on his rivals who do not have mass base in Haryana, which could again lead to political mistakes that could help CM Manohar Lal Khattar of the BJP.
Political observers say Congress has got no strategy for states which will go to polls in next only eight months or so, whereas the BJP has been preparing since past two years, except in Uttar
Pradesh where Yogi’s ‘Rajputvaad’ is worrying high command; hence it is a desperate attempt to please Brahmin community when Jitin Prasada has been promised good position to placate the Brahmin community.
Observers believe that Sonia Gandhi might be feeling the absence of her political trouble-shooter due to untimely demise of the strategist and experienced crisis handler, Ahmed Patel. He could evolve consensus in contractions which defused the volatile situations in states and centre. Some RSS leaders believe that borrowed elements may be helpful in the short run, but may cost the party dear in the long run as original leaders and workers are bound to feel demoralized, and subsequently lose aggression and commitment.
K.S.Tomar is a political analyst