Resignations of PCC chiefs won’t help Congress; party must strengthen Seva Dal, show door to dynastic non-performers
Unless Congress party sets accountability for each and every leader, and show the door to non-performers, the same set of senior leaders will be visible in the CWC meetings, brainstorming on their debacle after the Lok Sabha election in 2024
Even after facing a heavy loss in 2014 Lok Sabha election, Congress continued with its sympathetic approach to losers and unproductive leaders
Congress needs to adopt a ruthless approach towards its leaders when it comes to performance, rather than a mere formality
Even though the CWC had decided to rejuvenate the Seva Dal, the grassroots frontal organisation of the Congress, in practice nothing happened
If Congress wants to revive, survive and fight BJP in future, it has to retire unproductive leaders who are continuing only because they are close to the Nehru-Gandhi family
After Congress president Rahul Gandhi offered to resign, which was anyway not accepted at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Saturday, there’s flurry of resignations offered either by the Pradesh Congress Committee PCC chiefs or state and district level leaders.
While Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan tendered his resignation over the party’s dismal performance in the state on Saturday, the other state presidents who followed suit are Jharkhand’s Ajoy Kumar, Punjab’s Sunil Jakhar, Assam’s Ripun Bora, Odisha’s Niranjan Patnaik, etc. Jakhar resigned after he lost to actor and BJP candidate Sunny Deol from Gurdaspur seat.
In total, there are at least 13 Congress leaders in different states and districts who’ve offered their resignations. By offering to resign, whether or not it would be accepted, these Congress leaders probably wanted to redeem themselves of the defeat that the party has faced in this Lok Sabha election.
But the most important question is — will these resignations help? If these resignations are not accepted, as happened in the case of Rahul, they will continue in their authoritative position. And, if they are accepted, does Congress have an alternative plan or next level of leaders to take over?
The Congress debacle has opened a can of worms, as dissent within the party at state-level have become public.
After Rahul's apparent remark in the CWC meeting about senior leaders who had put the interests of their sons above that of the party during the Lok Sabha polls, two ministers of the Rajasthan cabinet have demanded introspection and accountability in their state. They clearly pointed fingers at Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who spent considerable time campaigning for his son Vaibhav Gehlot. Congress scored zero in Rajasthan.
The other two leaders are Kamal Nath and P Chidambaram, whose sons Nakul Nath and Karti Chidambaram, respectively, contested from Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Both their sons got elected from Chhindwara and Sivaganga, respectively.
The continuous victory of the BJP is the result of the party’s professional approach. Chhattisgarh is a case in point, where the BJP after its debacle in the Assembly election 2018, didn’t think twice in replacing all 11 candidates, including 10 sitting MPs ahead of the Lok Sabha election. The saffron party won nine seats in the Congress-ruled state.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehabooba Mufti aptly remarked while congratulating Narendra Modi on the party's success in the Lok Sabha elections. She tweeted, “Time for Congress to get an Amit Shah.”
Her rival Omar Abdullah tweeted, “PM Modi Sahib and Amit Shah put together a winning alliance and a very professional campaign.”
Even after facing a heavy loss in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the Congress party continued with its sympathetic approach to losers and unproductive leaders. The grand old party of India needs to adopt a ruthless approach towards its leaders when it comes to performance, rather than a mere formality.
The latest Lok Sabha poll results also show how disconnected the Congress has become from the grassroots over the years.
Except giving statements, Congress virtually made no concrete effort to strengthen the organisation. It was discussed in one of the CWC meetings that the Seva Dal — the grassroots frontal organisation of the Congress — would be rejuvenated, but in practice nothing happened. Today, it has become a redundant body. After becoming Congress president, Rahul had emphasised on the importance of the revival of Seva Dal.
The credit of the BJP victory across the country is often attributed to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for the latter’s grassroots connectivity. The RSS was founded in 1925, a year after Seva Dal (1924). After Jawaharlal Nehru’s regime, the role and function of Seva Dal gradually took a back seat.
A large number of old guards in the party, who haven’t won an election for years and have lost their connectivity with voters at the grassroots are continuing in important positions as deadwood.
At a meeting of CWC, the party’s topmost decision-making body, on Saturday, barring UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, there wasn’t any leader who won the 2019 election.
If the Congress wants to revive, survive and fight the BJP in future, it has to retire a generation of leaders who are unproductive and non-performers, but are continuing as they have been close to the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Despite having tall leaders like Ashok Gehlot and CP Joshi in Rajasthan, and Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh, Congress failed to increase its tally. This is despite the fact that these are Congress-ruled states. In fact, in Madhya Pradesh, the party' seats reduced from three to one. Punjab is the only exception among Congress-ruled states where the party actually won a considerable number of seat. The party won eight of 13 seats in Punjab under Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Giving tickets to sons and daughters of its top leaders, is another area that had cost dear to the Congress. In the recent election, the party gave tickets to children and relatives of several leaders, and a majority of them have lost.
This gave Modi an opportunity to attack the party on 'dynasty issue'. The results show the voters rejected the candidates with a family tag, including Rahul, who lost from his family borough Amethi.
This formality of resignation won’t help anymore. Unless Congress party sets accountability for each and every leader, and show the door to non-performers, the same set of senior leaders will be visible in the CWC meetings, brainstorming on their debacle after 2024 Lok Sabha election.
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