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  Opinion   The Age Debate  16 Mar 2017  Time for change of guard?

Time for change of guard?

Published : Mar 16, 2017, 2:11 am IST
Updated : Mar 29, 2017, 11:58 pm IST

The Congress must look beyond the Gandhis if it has to have a future.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. (Photo: PTI)
 Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. (Photo: PTI)

Hard work is the only key to success: Virender Sachdeva, The writer is a member of the BJP’s National Good Governance Team

When we look at our political scenario, it seems the Congress is intoxicated in the same old period of “rajyog”. The Congress started ruling India from 1947 to 1977, and started seeing its downfall after that. The people retained some faith in the party and again gave it a chance in 1980, 1984, 1991, 2004 and 2009. The first major downfall was a signal, which should have raised the instincts of any leader with rational thinking. If we look into the history of the Congress, it never lacked leaders with skills. From founder leaders like A.O. Hume, Dadabhai Naoroji to its Prime Ministers like Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P.V. Narsimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. Every time they came to power, we find realistic reasons behind it.


Take Nehru: he was a leader from the freedom struggle who had witnessed various revolutions and could well understand the ground realities of the country in terms of caste, religion, and not only could understand but also manage them. He even had an unforetold charisma of his own which brought him to power again and again. People had relentless faith in him. The personality enterprise was again gained by Indira Gandhi and even her ruling magic left an indelible mark on the minds of people, which shook only after her death. After her death, Rajiv Gandhi came to power in 1984 on the strength of a sympathy wave.

Although 1991 was a period of turmoil for the Congress, it could regain power because of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. 1998 was the time when Sonia Gandhi took to active politics, but the NDA succeeded in forming the government. The Congress again saw its golden days in 2004 and 2009, but it was not because of successful leadership, rather due to the shortcomings of their opponents.


In 2004, Rahul Gandhi announced his entry into politics by saying that he would contest the May 2004 elections, standing for his father’s former constituency of Amethi. Stepping into politics and winning an election was like being fed with a silver spoon. But he got a setback after contesting from the same seat in 2014, which he just sneaked by to win, realising that politics was no more a “family epic”. Finally, with the result of the recent UP elections, people have now entered an era wherein work speaks. Not allowing an able leader like Manmohan Singh to function was a setback for the Congress. The leadership failed to look beyond the window of the Gandhi clan, which brought them to its current position, where even its workers feel ashamed to be associated with the party.


Leaders and the party need to be empathetic about the problems of the people rather than flaunting their families. Work speaks. The family of Narendra Modi is also being spoken of but only for its grassroots growth, where no advantage is being taken from politics. Hence the Gandhis need to learn that growth will be achieved only when you will work.

Mandate was for Congress in 3 states: K.C. Mittal, The writer is AICC secretary in charge of the legal and human rights cell

Let’s talk about Punjab, where the Congress won by a landslide. It is perhaps the first time in the last 25 years that such a massive mandate has come to any party in the state. It was Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who had extensively campaigned in Punjab. He was instrumental in getting Navjot Singh Sidhu on board. In fact, pretty early in the fight for Punjab, the Congress appointed Capt. Amarinder Singh as state unit chief. This was a wise call, and so this model was a success.


No doubt the election results in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand are a setback. We strived and hoped to do better; unfortunately, our performance was nothing to write home about. But apportioning blame to Mr Gandhi is certainly not done. In the last couple of days there is a hatchet job, which is being done against Mr Gandhi. In fact, he had “structural changes” are needed in the Congress.

In Uttarakhand, the government changes every term. We were in power, but we will bounce back. If you look at UP, we were in the process of strengthening our party and were in alliance. We have been out of power in the state for almost 27 years now. So the alliance lost. Yes, we could have done better. If you look at Goa, there was the might of the BJP and defence minister Manohar Parrikar, who has now been sworn in as chief minister, but the Congress managed to be the single-largest party with a sizeable difference from the BJP. The BJP swooped in biggies with all resources at their command and formed the government in the state. Everybody in the state knows the mandate this time was for the Congress, and certainly not for the BJP.


In Manipur too, our chief minister was seeking a third term. In spite of anti-incumbency, which is natural for any government that has stayed in power for 15 years, the Congress is the single largest party. Again, by machinations of the BJP, they have formed the government. It is once again obvious that the mandate to govern is with the Congress and not with the BJP. It is with a very heavy heart that I have to say the governments in Manipur and Goa are unconstitutional. The governor’s role in both states is highly questionable. Even eminent jurists have started saying this. So the BJP model is: if they cannot win elections, criticise the Congress leadership and get a backdoor entry by misusing the governor’s office.


Many naysayers have been writing off the Congress for far too long now. It was Indira Gandhi who bounced back then, it was our president Sonia Gandhiji under whom the Congress came back in 2004 when nobody was expecting it to come back. This year there are several other elections lined up, we will see then. The civic polls in Delhi are also around the corner. A word to people who are counting us and our leadership out, they will have to wait. We as an organisation are here to stay.

Tags: nationalist congress party (ncp), rahul gandhi, debate