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Missed Opportunity

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The meeting between the G-23 dissidents and the Congress first family proved inconclusive, as expected. The issues are too deep and fundamental to be reconciled through a token acknowledgement of a separate line of thinking within the party. In fact, the outreach, reportedly by Priyanka Vadra was the usually condescending nod towards the hoi polloi than any real effort at finding common ground. In fact, any prospects of an understanding had been scuttled even before the meeting by party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, who declared that 99 percent of party members wanted Rahul Gandhi to be Congress President. This was rubbed in at the meeting when a similar declaration was made to applause by the status-qouists present. G-23 leaders did not take the bait.

While the party officials might choose to project the outcome of the meeting as satisfactory, it is clear that nothing substantial has emerged. Unless this is done, the required reform will not take place and the party will continue to lose ground at the hustings. This is rooted in the complacent belief that much of BJP’s strength is rooted in PM Modi’s charisma and, after him, Rahul Gandhi would emerge as the national alternative. This is wishful thinking as it obviously underestimates the BJP’s ability to throw up leaders that meet the needs of the times.

Suspended leader Sanjay Jha has demanded that Rahul Gandhi step aside as a candidate and allow the party to grow beyond the family. Going by present indications, the party is going to do the exact opposite. It will put its faith in birth and privilege. Effort and merit will be further sidelined in the belief that some people have a divine right to rule. This is of concern not only to the dissident leaders but also those in the country who want a strong national level opposition.

There have been divisions in the Congress in the past, also. Unfortunately, the party rallied behind the Nehru-Gandhi family. This past is also part of the reluctance amidst many to challenge the status quo, but they are obviously not taking into account how much the country has changed. There is still time for the dynasty to step back and allow the few politicians of stature it has to reconstruct the party from scratch. This opportunity will not come in the future because none will remain except for the sycophants. The Congress will have become history.