After the bouquets must come the brickbats, – especially now that elections to four states and a union territory have been called. But it appears the bouquets must continue to be exchanged even now – at least a faction within the Congress thinks so.
The encomiums showered upon the Congress veteran by Prime Minister Modi in the parliament in a veiled strategy are beginning to pay him off. The Congress veteran seems to have embarked on a different journey in Jammu that places him differently from the course followed by Gandhis in cornering the ruling party and upbraiding its leaders over the current state of Indian democracy. Instead, the senior party leader along with other members of “G-23” held a protest campaign where the leader showered praises – not on the young Gandhis who have shown valour in the face of adversity but – on the Prime Minister who “hasn’t forgotten his roots” and asked other “people to learn from Narendra Modi”.
The estranged Congress leader did not question why Narendra Modi, who hadn’t “forgotten his roots”, did not similarly feel the burden of the common man who faces joblessness, fuel and LPG price rise and why he doesn’t see their woes as a “chaiwalla” when the rising fuel prices have raised the transportation costs and in turn the cost of “chai” itself.
What Narendra Modi did achieve was to divide the Congress with the leader of G-23 falling for the Prime Minister’s praise and assembling G-23 members in Jammu for support – because the senior leader who knows “the pulse of every state” was not re-nominated to the Rajya Sabha.
Dissenting against the party and its leadership at a time when many states face election only weakens the party through a public display of “We have gathered because…Congress is weakening”.
Members of G-23 had already sent a message when they wrote a letter to the party supremo demanding an “overhaul” and the party was already planning to take appropriate steps. But instead of uniting to support its leadership and show the way to party grassroots during election time the G-23 has put itself before the party. The senior leaders must recognise that there are many party workers who without “posts” have continued to support and strengthen the party, and without reaching the same position they have enjoyed all these years.
Praising the leader of the ruling dispensation and showing open dissent to Congress leadership at a time when the economy is in shambles, borders are occupied by China, civil liberties and constitutional freedoms are at peril only undoes the work the party and its leadership have been relentlessly doing in cornering the ruling government on every front.
The public show of dissent from the high seats of popularity that they now enjoy because of the party also betrays their allegiance to the very tree that nurtured them.
G-23 Congress leaders have expressed unhappiness over the party’s tie-ups and alliances but to publicly express dissatisfaction and de-motivate state Congress leaders – when the issues could have been flagged at party forums – does not send a right message to the public, and to the Congress workers who they should be helping at this time. It is difficult to see how Congress’ alliance with secular parties in West Bengal goes against the core ideology and secularism advocated by Gandhi and Nehru. Or have few Congress leaders forgotten to stand with and show support for minorities with secular credentials because the current atmosphere favours the majority?
A dream for a split to improve the chances of success are but insinuations of the ruling devil. Holding fast to the core ideology without expectations of reward and believing in Gandhian leadership is the way forward.