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The Congress is over?
6/16/2019 10:29:31 PM
Early Times Report

JAMMU, June 16: The Congress is a rudderless and directionless ship. It appears. Its chief Rahul Gandhi still remains indecisive over his decision to quit as the AICC president. This is taking a toll on the party's functioning in various States, with infighting coming out in the open. State leaders, including those from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, are at a loss to understand as to how to stem the growing dissidence, with the high command, on whom they have depended for decades to settle their disputes, having plunged into a paralysis following the massive defeat in the recent general election.
The Congress could not win even one seat in as many as 18 states, including Jammu & Kashmir, and it could win only 3 seats from UP, Bihar and Bengal. UP returns 80 members to the Lok Sabha, Bihar 40 and Bengal 42. In other words, the Congress won a paltry 3 seats out of 162 seats in these 3 states.
Some senior party leaders have been openly questioning and insulating Congress's top leadership, which essentially means Rahul Gandhi and his family. They have been claiming that the problems have to do with State leaders and that the high command cannot be held accountable. The fact is that State-level party issues have reached alarming levels precisely because there has been a failure at the high command level to tackle the problems. Only recently, a senior Congress leader said that "the troubles in the State units would not affect the strength of the Congress nationally". He, it seems, has forgotten that, if the Congress continues to lose ground in States, there is little that would be left of it nationally.
In Telangana, where the party fared poorly in the Lok Sabha polls and had done badly in the last State elections, 12 of its 18 MLAs formed a bloc and switched over to the ruling TRS. Congress lamented that the development was the "murder of democracy". Instead of indulging in rhetoric, the party leadership must assess the reasons for the departure of so many of its Legislators. One thing is clear: Congress's high command failed to address the grievances of these public representatives;
In Karnataka, the situation is also bad for the Congress. Two of its senior leaders have openly denounced the party leadership and said "the Modi Government is doing a good job". There are others who are upset with the way the alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) has been operating. There is fresh crisis almost on a daily basis in the State, and there is no saying when the coalition regime will collapse under its own weight and with some help from the BJP which has been viewing the developments with glee from the sidelines.
The crisis has also hit States where the Congress had until recently been on a strong footing. In Madhya Pradesh, where it displaced the BJP rule a few months ago following its victory in Assembly elections, Chief Minister Kamal Nath is facing criticism from within his party for the massive defeat the Congress faced in the 2019 elections. He was accused of having concentrated more on ensuring his son won than heeding the interests of the party. It has been reported that Rahul Gandhi obliquely referred to this when he said that certain leaders were busier in working the victory of their kin. But Kamal Nath couldn't care less, more so because he knows he is dealing with a weak high command, with Rahul Gandhi unsure himself of his continuation as the party's president.
The situation in Rajasthan (where the Congress had won in the Assembly elections a few months ago) is no better. Strong demands are emerging from within the Congress that Ashok Gehlot is replaced by Sachin Pilot. The war between the two camps is now out in the open, with Chief Minister Gehlot stating that Pilot too must take the blame for the party's miserable showing in the State in the Lok Sabha polls. The Chief Minister was especially miffed with the defeat of his son. Like in the previously mentioned cases, the high command comprising the Congress's first family has looked on helplessly.
In Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu is openly challenging the Chief Minister Capt Amrinder Singh. Sidhu's pro-Pakistan line and the manner in which he urged the Muslims to come together and vote in one direction have dented the image of the party to a considerable extent. Both the Captain and Sidhu are virtually not on speaking terms.
As for Jammu & Kashmir, all the top leaders, including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and JKPCC chief GA Mir, are under attack. The situation has climaxed to the point that Congress leaders from Jammu are asking the high command to appoint three presidents in the state, one each for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, saying Jammu & Kashmir is not a normal state. They are holding Azad and Mir responsible for the defeat of the Congress in all the three regions.
Rahul Gandhi has to take a firm decision if he wishes that the Congress should revive and survive failing which the 134-year-old party could become a story of the past.
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