Assembly Election 2017: People have spoken, time for Congress to axe Rahul Gandhi

Two days ago, the Congress came up with an ingenious sales pitch to lure independent MLAs in Goa. Sonia Gandhi, its leaders said, is the paragon of sacrifice. Come to us, we are ready to sacrifice for you too, they said, as they appealed to legislators, whose support the Congress needs to form the government – after the state delivered a fractured mandate in the recent Assembly elections.

In a party that harps on its president's sacrifice, it is time somebody reminds Rahul Gandhi the real meaning of the word. It is time somebody told him that he should make the supreme sacrifice of abdicating the throne, renouncing any position in the party and publicly announce that he would not consider elevation to the party president's post.

Both the country and the Congress have given the heir apparent plenty of opportunities to prove his leadership. Now that he has flunked each one of his big tests, turned into a subject of mirth, ridicule and voter apathy, he should go. For the sake of his own legacy, he should leave the Congress alone.

 Assembly Election 2017: People have spoken, time for Congress to axe Rahul Gandhi

A worker from Congress party holds a broken cut-out of Rahul Gandhi. Reuters

While he is around, nothing good would happen for the Congress. There is no chance of his becoming acceptable to the country in this life. Even if he is the last man left on the political firmament, voters are likely to resort to NOTA.

So, find a new vocation. Find a new interest. Find true love. Find a Wallis Simpson. Do an Edward VIII, who like him was considered sloppy, lazy and disinterested in the throne, to India. Abdicate.

Rahul's insistence on leading the Congress is depriving the country of the balance that is needed in a healthy democracy. Because of his timidity, political naiveté and part-time politics, India is turning uni-polar, the hegemony of a single party. The Opposition space is shrinking like a bad piece of cotton that has been given a solid dhulai.

The Congress explanation that 'defeats are a part of democracy' doesn't wash. In election after election, the Congress is not just getting defeated, it is getting dismembered. If the trend continues, it will soon lose Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh.

In many of these states, there is rising discontent against the ruling BJP. Yet, the BJP may return because people believe in the adage of a known devil being better than an unknown, unreliable deity.

In many ways, the string of defeats the Congress has suffered – and will continue to – is a rejection of Rahul. He has turned into a brand nobody wants to identify with, perhaps like the pagers that became outdated even before they could be launched. His poor choices, lack of political acumen and hubris have become an anathema to not just voters but also men in his own party.

But, the Congress still has a chance. Results in Punjab have shown that the dormant Congress supporters are willing to back the party if it presents a credible leader, who is not the Gandhi family retainer. They are willing to consider the Congress as an option against the BJP and its allies if the alternate is not Rahul. If the party learns its lessons, it can actually go on to win Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and compete with the BJP in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

But, for it to bounce back, the Congress needs to remember a tweaked version of Edmund Burke's famous words: 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of mediocrity is for capable men to do nothing.'

Its leaders, grassroot workers, cadres, supporters need to act now and firmly tell Rahul what Leopold Amery told Neville Chamberlain: ''You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go!''

They need to bang their heads together and ensure that the leadership now passes to someone else, even if it results in a bitter power struggle. If nothing else works, treat the party as a conglomeration of state units, led by capable local leaders who treat Delhi the way India treated Bahadur Shah Zafar.

It all begins with Rahul understanding the meaning of sacrifice and abdication. If he doesn't, take him to Guwahati's Kamakhya Temple, put a tilak on his forehead and let the axe fall on his head.

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Updated Date: Mar 15, 2017 15:50:45 IST