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By Our Correspondent Syed Ali Mujtaba, The India observer, TIO, NJ: With senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad gone, the Congress graveyard is full. Even the BJP’s graveyard has little space left for the Congress Cast Away. With only a few men left standing and Rahul Gandhi all set to take the charge, people are eagerly watching if will he do something to repair the leaking Titanic or preside over its sink. Undoubtedly, India’s oldest Party is now facing an existential crisis.
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This discussion has become shriller in India after senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad resigned from the Congress alleging that the situation in the party had changed after Rahul Gandhi took over the reins “since 2013.” Azad alleged that all senior and experienced leaders were sidelined and a new coterie of inexperienced sycophants started running the affairs of the Congress party.”
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Azad alleged; that Sonia Gandhi’s success as Congress chief depended on her ability to “heed counsel”, but her son demolished that “consultative mechanism.”
Azad pointed out that his committee’s action plan to revitalize the Congress, proposed and approved in the Jaipur Plenary of 2013, was “lying in the storeroom of AICC” for nine years, even after his repeated reminders.
Hours after the resignation of Ghulam Nabi Azad, six Congress leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, including former Minister RS Chib resigned from the Congress.
Not only Azad but several high-profile leaders have also quit Congress this year making it difficult for the party to find its feet in the upcoming elections.
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Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill quit the party stating that the decision-making of the Congress party is not in consonance with the ground reality and in the public interest but is influenced by sycophancy. Shergill said sycophancy is “eating the Congress like ‘termites'”. I’ve been seeking time from Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi & Priyanka Gandhi for more than a year, but we are not welcomed in their offices,” Shergill said. “The primary reason for his resignation is that the ideology and the vision of the current decision-makers of the Congress are no longer in sync with the aspirations of the youth of modern India,” Shergill wrote in his resignation letter.
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Earlier this year in May, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, a prominent face of the G-23 group of dissenting Congress leaders, gave another blow to the party, after he sent his resignation. Kapil Sibal resigned after openly asking the Gandhi family to step aside from the leadership roles and give others a chance to lead the party. This idea was not entertained and he had to file nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha elections as an independent candidate backed by the Samajwadi Party (SP).
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Former Punjab Congress Chief Sunil Jakhar too parted ways with the Congress in May this year. Jakhar on his Facebook page wrote: Good luck and goodbye to Congress.” Jakhar’s resignation came when Congress served a show-cause notice to him for criticizing then Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi. Jakhar said he held no position in the party and yet he was issued a show-cause notice, lamenting at the affairs of the Congress party. Jakhar in his resignation letter said; “Three generations of my family served the Congress party over the last 50 years.
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Today, I have broken the 50-year-old tie with Congress over issues of nationalism, unity, and brotherhood in Punjab.” He openly said that the Congress party was facing an existential crisis and yet there is no intent being made to save the party. Jakhar later joined the BJP.
RPN Singh too quit the Congress when the party saddled him with the charge to face the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election. He tweeted, sharing his resignation letter, “Today, at a time, we are celebrating the formation of our great Republic; I begin a new chapter in my political journey. Jai Hind.”
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Soon after parting his ways with Congress, Singh joined hands with BJP. Later speaking to the media, he said, he was in Congress for 32 years but the “party is no longer what it used to be before.”
Former Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar in February resigned from Congress after a long association of 46 years with the party. “Having given my thoughtful consideration to the matter, I have concluded that the present circumstances are inconsistent with my dignity,” Kumar said in his resignation letter. The former Union Law Minister took a potshot at the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, “We don’t have a transformative and inspiring leadership to lead the party.”
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Gujarat Patidar leader Hardik Patel resigned from the Congress party after he felt that he was being “ignored”. He wrote, “Whenever our country faced challenges and when the Congress needed leadership, Congress leaders were enjoying abroad. “Be it building the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, revocation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, or implementation of GST, India wanted solutions for these subjects for a long time and Congress only played the role of a roadblock and always was in obstructive mode.
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Patel added, “When it came to issues related to India, Gujarat and my Patidar community, the Congress’s only stand was to oppose whatever the Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi did. Congress today has been rejected in almost every state of India because the party and its leadership have not been able to present a basic road map to the people.”
Patel’s letter spoke of his disappointment when party workers like him traveled 500-600 km to attend a meeting and discuss issues but found the local leaders busy trying to ensure that some senior Congress leader from Delhi was served “his chicken sandwich on time”.
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“When Rahul comes to Gujarat, he did not talk about the problem faced by the people of Gujarat. Party leaders are busy arranging chicken sandwiches and Diet Coke for Rahul Gandhi. There are talks in the party that people will vote for Congress when they get bored with the BJP. I have spoken to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi and mentioned the problems of Gujarat. He asked me what the problems were and I told him. That’s when I felt I was being ignored. I decided to leave the party not with sadness but with courage,” said Hardik Patel. Later he joined the BJP some two weeks after quitting the Congress party.
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The former Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh resigned from the Congress party over the appointment of Navjot Singh Sidhu as the President of the Punjab Congress Committee. He was disgruntled by the Congress leadership and the way he was treated in the party. Subsequently, in the assembly election, Congress lost Punjab badly due to its poor judgment on the change of its leadership.
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Another Congress heavyweight Jyotiraditya Scindia the scion of Gwalior princely state resigned from the Congress party on March 9, 2020. He was having a continuous fight with the party leadership in Madhya Pradesh and the party high command never tried to sort it out. He later joined the BJP and is now a minister in Modi’s cabinet.
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Jitin Prasada, one of the signatories to the letter written by the “G-23” to Sonia Gandhi, demanding major course correction within the party resigned, when this was not happening. He resigned on June 9, 2021, and joined the BJP.
Congress party’s Rajya Sabha MP and chief whip, Bhubaneswar Kalita resigned opposing the party’s stand on the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
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Another Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Assam Sanjay Singh resigned accusing the party of living in the past and being unaware of the future. He too joined the BJP.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna resigned from the Congress party citing “constant interference” by the then-party President Rahul Gandhi. He too joined the BJP.
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It seeks to reason that something terrible is wrong with the Congress party, otherwise, there may not have been so much desertion. The oldest party is facing one of the toughest phases in Indian politics, finding ways and means to reinvent itself.
The ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ that’s starting on September 7, 2022, is one such attempt to revive the party’s sagging fortunes at the grassroots level. The revival of the party depends on the success of this mass contact programme. The people of the country have pinned lots of hope on this mega event.
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Their expectation is a brand new Congress will emerge at the end of this Jan Andolan. It is expected that the Congress party will be in a position to lead the country once again.
Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai
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