At The Cross-Roads - III

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 30 Dec 2017 12:36:36

Currently, Congress, as an organisation, does not exist. It is a loose collection of people with varied interests standing under one big banner and holding many small banners in their hands, indicating their separate shops. Mr. Rahul Gandhi is not even faintly aware of this reality.

Rival camps hold separate Congress Foundation Day celebrations
-- A newspaper headline
describing local rivalries in Congress party.

OF COURSE, as all of us know, such instances have always been part of Congress party’s history of 131 years. Internal feuds, intense group rivalries, intentional sabotages of other camps’ programmes, separate celebrations of common causes have often been parts of the Congress party’s internal story all these years.

To such ridiculous extents does this happen that the party also saw in 1939 a very serious internal political battle for party’s control when Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose declared his candidature in election to Congress President’s post. He did so because Mahatma Gandhi was unwilling to consider things from the younger people’s perspective.

Even before the Tripuri Congress where netaji defeated Gandhiji’s candidate, the Congress party had witnessed bitter internal rivalries, though borne out of ideological differences as some may claim. There were two groups, the extremist group and the moderate group. Both fought bitter internal battles for party’s control.

In subsequent years, it was Mrs. Indira Gandhi who engineered a split in the party and took control of the organisation. In later years, the Congress party has seen many a split or many an internal rivalry, though each such event was often described in ideological jargon that made little sense to the people in general. Let alone that, in most cases factually, ideology plays no role and personal egos and interests of leaders clash, in the process weakening the party organisation in a big way.

As Mr. Rahul Gandhi presides over the country’s oldest political party, his first challenge is to take steps to make a large united monolith out of the Congress. His success in making this achievement possible will be the deciding factor for all its future action and subsequent positive results. However, it is difficult to know what definition of ‘positive results’ Mr Rahul Gandhi harbours in his head and heart. True, there are reasons to believe that he does not give much consideration to building the organisation on solid footing in an assertive unity.

There are also reasons to believe that Mr. Rahul Gandhi does not see anything beyond elections. His total energies seem focused at the moment only on winning elections. So obsessed is he with winning elections that he refused to see Himachal Pradesh slip out of his party’s grip, but felt extremely happy with the gain of just 16 seats in Gujarat. With such a myopic view, it may never be possible for Mr. Rahul Gandhi to steer the Congress party to ultimate victory even in elections. For, as the party faces elections, all its internal systems come under severe strain, threatening to cause serious differences in rank and file.

It is doubtful if Mr. Rahul Gandhi will ever understand the pathology of such situations in an organisation.
Frankly and factually, this should be his first short-term goal as Congress President. He should start understanding the organisational behaviour first and then organise the party on solid principles of absolute and uncompromisable unity. This may not be an easy affair to handle. Form when absolute unity is the long-term goal, then short-term actions must be in consonance with the cherished destination. So, Mr. Gandhi will to start taking a very serious view of any intra-party squabbles and discourage those with an iron hand, no matter if that calls for sacking certain elements from the organisation at the first step.

Those who has studied Mr. Gandhi’s personality, however, do not feel that he has the determination to take such a stern action whenever internal fights erupt without reason. For, if such steps are to be taken, then the central leader has to prove himself as someone who is totally above feuds and factional fights. Given his track record so far, there are reasons to suspect that Mr. Gandhi may never be able to act as a non-partisan referee and declare fouls and punish the people who wish to spoil the party.

Most unfortunately, Mr. Rahul Gandhi belongs to a tradition of leaders who have often taken sides and allowed major chunks of rank and file unnerved and dissatisfied. That included even Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, a man who was known to be of a poetic mindset. The history of Congress party is full of such instances, which the leaders tried to hide behind the facade of internal democracy in within the party. One does not know if Mr. Rahul Gandhi would ever understand this reality.

Interpreting Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s actions and statements, an impression doe get created that he is most inconsistent on many issues and feels happy scoring a few brownie points while on the directionless move rather than score decisive victories. So, when it comes to thinking of the Congress party’s organisational building up, any observer would infer that Mr. Gandhi has limited goals and refuses to look too much into future. Winning elections is his goal and nothing beyond.

As said earlier, Mr. Gandhi is not a leader who would think of a long-term vision and build the party, a process that may take a good deal of time and energy. His motivation is to win elections somehow.

And that is his weakness.
Any leader who does not build the organisation with a long-term planning is bound to suffer in the short term. And once that process is set in motion, the leader loses the sight of long-term goal as well. There are quite a few political observers who suspect that such a fate would befall Mr. Rahul Gandhi.

Currently, Congress, as an organisation, does not exist. It is a loose collection of people with varied interests standing under one big banner and holding many small banners in their hands, indicating their separate shops. Mr. Rahul Gandhi is not even faintly aware of this reality. To some extent, he is at fault as he has never tried to understand the process of organisationl maturation. But to a bigger extent, his party colleagues at higher level never allowed him an exposure to the reality on the ground -- that there is nothing called organisation in the name of Congress, under the banner of Congress. All he has at his disposal is a mob whose frenzy he is in a position to kick up at any time.

Such an organisation cannot even think of fighting major electoral battle with the well-organised machinery of the Bharatiya Janata Party where the leadership has distributed its rank and file to take care of the lowest and smallest detail of poll booth management on the basis of the names on each page of the voters’ lists in every area of the country.

There were times when Congress had such a large cadre held together by adhesive of power. Today, at Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s disposal is nothing but a loose mob of people with clashing interests, under one banner.