Dynastic Policies (Of The Inc)
The Indian National Congress (INC), the oldest political party of India, was founded by Allan Octavian Hume (June 4, 1829 – July 31, 1912) on December 28, 1885. Hume – a British member of the Imperial Civil Service, a political reformer, an ornithologist and a botanist who worked in British India – used to be referred to as “the Pope of Indian Ornithology“. Later, the INC became the first modern nationalist movement to emerge in the British Empire in Asia and Africa. Under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948), the Congress became the principal leader of the Indian Freedom Movement after 1920, leading the South Asian nation to Independence from the UK. The Congress is often called the Grand Old Party because of its enduring history. The INC, currently India’s main Opposition party, is widely considered as a big tent party whose platform is generally considered to lie at the centre of Indian Politics.
After India gained her Independence in 1947, the Congress emerged as a catch-all party under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (November 14, 1889 – May 27, 1964), the first Prime Minister of India, and dominated the National Politics for the next 20 years. Later, Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi (November 19, 1917 – October 31, 1984) and her son Rajiv Gandhi (August 20, 1944 – May 21, 1991) served as Prime Ministers of India. Rajiv’s wife Sonia Gandhi Maino (b. December 9, 1946) became the Leader of the INC in 1998. Since then, Sonia, and her children Rahul Gandhi (b. June 19, 1970) and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (b. January 12, 1972) have been in charge of the party. However, the Congress has been gradually losing its popularity since 2014, as the people of India get disillusioned with Dynastic Politics of the Nehru-Gandhi family. The INC performed poorly in Provincial Elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur held in March 2022. While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won the polls in Punjab, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged victorious in other four provinces.
Sonia Gandhi’s three-year tenure as the Interim President of the Congress shall be completed in the next couple of months. Addressing a party meeting after a series of electoral debacles in the third week of March, Sonia said that she and her family were ready to make any kind of sacrifice in order to save the party. Meanwhile, the majority of the Congress leaders said that they did not want that to happen. Terming this as a theatre would be an insult to this particular form of dramatic art. Party members, present at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee on March 13, unanimously said that they had full confidence in her leadership. In other words, the world can fall into an abyss, but they shall never come out of the shadow of the Nehru-Gandhi family. During the meeting, party leaders also said that the Family could still encourage the voters, despite knowing the fact that the Gandhis have become not-so-relevant in Indian Politics. Perhaps, they fear that there might be a power struggle between the various factions and leaders of the party, with the end of the Dynastic Leadership. The Congress, it seems, shall no longer exist without the Dynastic leadership, as the Nehru-Gandhi family can only help the party serve its (vested) interests.
The Congress had faced a similar situation in the past. After the sudden and tragic demise of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, the party leaders requested Sonia to save the party. At that period of time, they lost faith in the leadership of the then Party President, Sitaram Kesari (November 15, 1919 – October 24, 2000). The Indians still remember the fate of former Prime Minister Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Rao (June 28, 1921 – December 23, 2004). Rao is considered as the saviour of the Indian Economy, as he liberalised the economy in 1991-92. However, Sonia Gandhi had thrown him away due to his growing popularity!
It is often being heard that no one can save the Congress today, as the Nehru-Gandhi family has become a burden on the party… and, the family is solely responsible for this situation. According to political analysts, Rahul Gandhi would have to take the blame, as he has failed to lead the Congress in a proper manner even after getting an opportunity to become the leader of a national party, thanks to his family legacy. His sister Priyanka, too, has disheartened the Congress supporters with her amateurish approach. It seems that their irresponsible approach towards politics has made the Indians realise that they could not depend on a particular family anymore for the overall development of the country.
This time, former Finance Minister of India P Chidambaram and other rebel Congress leaders have issued a statement, saying that the party should abandon its High Command culture. They have also said that decisions should be made in consultation with party members at different levels. The rebel leaders have advised the party to talk with other like-minded parties in order to create a credible alternative platform ahead of the 2024 Parliamentary Elections. Senior party leaders, like Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, are of the opinion that Rahul Gandhi should not influence the party policies with the help of younger leaders, such as K C Venugopal, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Ajay Maken, K Raju and Sachin Rao. According to sources close to the Congress, Sibal may have to pay the price for openly criticising the Gandhi Family.
Unfortunately, the Gandhis are yet to realise the fact that majority of the Indians are not in favour of the Congress’ Dynastic Politics. Hence, they are still eager to hold the leadership positions. Although there are a number of seasoned politicians in the Congress, like Shashi Tharoor (who had served as the UN Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information in 2002-07); Sonia Gandhi and her children are reluctant to hand over the leadership to outsiders. It is also a fact that this plight from the part of the Congress is also detrimental to Indian Democracy. The importance of Tolerant and Secular Politics is immense to counter the Communal and Nationalist Politics of the ruling BJP. For the regional parties, it might not be possible to create troubles for the BJP, and the 2019 Parliamentary Polls were a great example of this. This is why the role of the Congress is quite important.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is well aware of this fact. So, he has stressed on a Congress-free India (Congress-mukt Bharat), time and again. Interestingly, the stereotyped, rigid and Dynasty-based politics of the Congress has created troubles for the party, itself. Experts are of the opinion that the Nehru-Gandhi family may soon fulfil the aspiration of Prime Minister Modi by destroying the Congress. It’s time for the Congress leaders and the party High Command to desert the family for the sake of Indian Democracy. Instead, they should concentrate on Internal Democracy and Decentralisation of the party in order to revive the Congress’ fate. Else, the Grand Old Party shall find its place in a museum.
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