Going by past example, it would be highly optimistic to assume that the ongoing debate within the Congress party will lead to any internal reform. That questions are even being raised is due to the recent electoral setbacks it has faced. All it needs is for small successes, such as becoming the tail in Maharashtra’s ruling coalition, for the party to go into extended coma. Everybody knows what the problem is, but with enough number of high functionaries actually describing it as the ‘solution’, there is no headway being made in bringing matters back on track.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, who rose high in the party’s ranks as long ago as Indira Gandhi’s time, has described the problem quite succinctly and, also, offered the way to reform – genuine elections at the initial levels to begin with. Unfortunately, even this obvious solution is being sought to be shot down. The reason is simple – there can be no challenger for the top job, which is reserved for the Nehru-Gandhi family. This would have not mattered so much if these worthies were capable, talented and genuine leaders. The truth is that, based on merit, they would have to swiftly give way to the elected lot. The decline in the Congress came about just for this reason; Sonia Gandhi ensured over the years that no challengers emerged. So, the High Command culture was imposed right down to the grassroots – one had to find favour with the proprietors and their cronies to advance in any way.
It is no wonder then that senior leader Salman Khurshid claims that it should be obvious to everyone who the popular choice is for the party’s leadership. Nobody may have the guts to question the present dispensation from within the party, but it is pretty obvious that the voters live under no such delusion. Votes have been deserting the party in large quantities and the process continues with every election. The geriatric leadership that surrounds Sonia Gandhi is barely functional, leave alone being capable of facing this enormous challenge. Consider the latest statement from former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat – that he would retire from politics only after seeing Rahul Gandhi become Prime Minister. Since the chances of that happening are low in the foreseeable future, does he actually mean he is going to be around forever? More probably, he is still continuing to curry favour with the Gandhis, without which his long career in politics has no value. Sadly, it seems that Congress will remain caught between Mr Bean and Maleficent – there is no getting out of it.