Party, president, pariwar: Sonia Gandhi and the art of being ‘full-time’ Congress chief

It’s high time that the Congress president Sonia Gandhi seeks to know what actually ails her party

So, finally, Soniaji has spoken. And the people that are part of the Indian National Congress are thrilled! What for, you tend to ask? What does Madam Gandhi have to rejuvenate the party that has been in throes of trouble? Nothing, in fact!

Rewind to what she said a while ago. As if in a bid to reiterate her position in the party and thereby lift the spirits of the workers who would do anything to see her on top, she had said: “I’m a full-time and hands-on Congress president.” Good for you, Adhyaksh Mahoday Ji. Her words, actually, were aimed as a bolt from the Congress headquarters to disgruntled beings in the party who have voiced their views on the inaction of the leadership.

There might be Congress workers who would want to celebrate Madam Gandhi’s reiteration of power. But one wonders if Sonia Gandhi has realised where the party she heads stands in the political scape of the country. At a time when the Opposition has a proactive role to play like never before, the party president is bent on combating the opposition that exists inside the party she thinks is just hers and her family’s.

When veteran leader Kapil Sibal aired his concerns, the blindfolded Parivarwale have made sure his words and stance were attacked. Little does the party president and the satellites that revolve around her and her family are pushing the party down the cliff.

It is common knowledge that the government at the Centre has been taking unilateral decisions that tend to drift away from democratic ethos. The largest party, a grand old one at that, has done nothing fit to be called an effective Opposition. PM Modi and his party going about doing all they want to in the social, and economic horizons, there are many who feel many of the policies are undemocratic to the core.

Party, president, pariwar Sonia and the art of being full-time Congress chief - Digpu News

Congress G23 leaders not a “Jee Huzur 23”

But the opposition Congress party, which should be rallying against decisions that have been flagged as bad for a democratic existence, is the last to even know about all that. There are leaders like Sibal, Jairam Ramesh and many more who believe that Congress should have the will and inclination to play an effective Opposition. However, such people are being silenced by the family cronies.

A young Congress is defined by the party as just Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. And what do they end up doing when they could have done much more. At Lakhimpur Kheri, we witnessed Priyanka protesting by sweeping the floor. Rahul, on the other hand, has been travelling the country in his bid to show that he is capable of taking on the ruling party at the Centre and also in states where non-Congress governments are in power. A few months ago, the nation saw him participating in cookery vlogs and even diving into the sea as if in support of fishermen in Kerala. Laughable, indeed!

It is high time the young faces of the Congress and the cronies who croon in support of all the displays of leadership qualities have ended up as just idiotic stuff.

It came as a welcome step when Sibal rallied a group of 23 who honestly wanted the Congress to survive and called it a “not a Jee Huzur 23”. He went on to add that “in our party at the moment there is no president. So we don’t know who is making these decisions. We know and yet we don’t know.” The Congress leadership, instead of taking the hint, singled him out and attempted to push him and his thoughts down the drain. And now, the party president herself has come out in the open and said, the party has a full-time leader and that she is the one.

Party in turmoil, party chief idle

In states where the party has managed to cling to power, there has been enough trouble within the party. Punjab witnessed an old warhorse being shunted out and a man with zero vision being elevated as party chief. Rajasthan has its Congress churning in turmoil. In Kerala, where the Congress is slowly being pushed to the brink after having been easily subdued by the ruling Left alliance, has a catalyst for a major fall in its own leaders. Infighting is a norm in all these states.

In such a scenario, when Sonia Gandhi says she is a full-time leader, Madam President herself portrays how irresponsibly the leadership has been operating. Screaming at Modi and his men once in a while doesn’t make for an effective Opposition. Working as an Opposition party with the country’s goals on priority is what Congress should be doing at the moment. Instead, the leadership and the cronies are trying to play stupid. Whatever they do, finally end up silly.

Bringing democracy to the party would also mean that G23 is heard too. For, the leaders who are irked by the party choices and actions may have a point. Rallying around the leaders who think with the nation’s progress in mind is what the workers with the grand old party should be doing at the moment. And, to make this happen, and to learn what actually ails the party, the leadership should be open for discussions in a democratic manner within the party.

The fact that the party president decided to convene a Congress Working Committee (CWC) only after pressure from another senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad displays the magnitude of the party chief’s ignorance on what is happening inside the party or the government in power at the Centre. And yet, she says I’m a full-time leader and party president.

At the opening remarks at the CWC meet she convened, we heard her say: “I’ve always appreciated frankness, no need to speak to me through media; let us all have an honest discussion.”  She added: “We face many challenges but if we are united, focus on party’s interests alone, we will do well.”

Congress needs to think and act like an Opposition

Wonder why she took so long to realise the situation and say this. If Sonia Gandhi wants a united Congress as she hoped, she will have to do much more than just sit pretty thinking she is a full-time leader and party president and then have the party go its way. The nation is the foremost priority for a political party, which, once upon a time, used to be in power for long. The party should know what it means to be a good Opposition. There are thousands of people in the country who hope to see an active Opposition doing its job well.

And for that to happen, the “full-time leader” should act like one. Sitting idle dreaming of a united Congress, and doing nothing when wayward leaders do all they can to stain the reputation of a party many people look up to, won’t help the party, or the country. After all, a strong, proactive Opposition is what helps democracy thrive.

It would be worthwhile to think and learn what the people think about the present-day Congress party. What the nation would want is an Opposition party that intervenes constructively as a united force in matters relating to the progress of the nation. Sonia Gandhi has all the right to pat herself saying that she is the party supremo. But she needs to realise that she should also act like one.

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