Rajat Sharma

Why Congress leaders are unhappy over Rahul ‘walking away’

AKB1010 Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Wednesday in an interview to a news agency, made caustic remarks about the present state of the party. He said, “Our biggest problem is our leader (Rahul) has walked away. It has kind of left a vacuum. Sonia Gandhi stepped in, but there is more than an indication that she is treating herself as a stop-gap arrangement. I wish it wasn’t so.”
This remark comes at a time when party leader Rahul Gandhi is busy doing ‘vipassana’ meditation in Cambodia leaving the Congress party in the lurch, right in the midst of the crucial assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana. There is hardly any indication about Rahul returning in time for the election campaign.
This has caused consternation among party workers and leaders, who are already facing the colossal might of the BJP, already entrenched in power in these two key states.
It is really surprising that Rahul Gandhi left on vacation at a crucial time, when two of his close confidantes, Sanjay Nirupam in Maharashtra and Ashok Tanwar in Haryana, have raised the banner of revolt against the party high command. Everybody expected Rahul to stay in India and persuade these leaders, as both the state units of the Congress are wracked with groupism and dissension.
Rahul may not be the party chief now, but he had been the party president and prime ministerial candidate in the recent past and had steered the party for more than five years. Moreover, he is the son and political heir of the present party chief Sonia Gandhi.
If a person of the stature of Rahul leaves the party to its own fate, how can party workers accept him as a strong leader. The true test of a leader is at the time of crisis. The sooner Rahul Gandhi understand this, the better.
So long as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in power, the Congress will continue to face challenges. However, the lackadaisical attitude of Rahul is not the only problem facing the Congress.
There is a serious crisis in the Congress party over the issue of taking stand on matters of national importance. The party leadership appears to be confused, particularly on issues like Balakot air strike, acquisition of Rafale fighter planes and revocation of Article 370.
When the Indian Air Force successfully carried out strikes on terror camps at Balakot inside Pakistan, Rahul Gandhi was in a dilemma – whether to support of oppose the action. Several senior Congress leaders questioned the IAF’s claim about success in the air strike.
Similarly, at a time when the nation was united on the issue of revoking Article 370 giving special status to Jammu & Kashmir, the Congress appeared to be confused – whether to support of oppose? Ultimately it had to fall in line and accept the Modi government’s action.
On the issue of acquisition of Rafale fighter planes, Rahul went to town and made it an election issue. He levelled serious charges against PM Modi but had no facts and evidence to support his charge. The Congress had to bite the dust at the hustings.
Similarly, on Dussehra day, when the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh performed ‘shastra puja’ in France during the hand over of the first Rafale plane to IAF, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge described it as a “tamasha”.
From time immemorial, ‘shastra puja’ has been a regular feature during Dussehra in India, and the Indian Defence Minister performing the pooja during the hand over was part of an annual ritual.
By describing this as a “tamasha”, the Congress is harming its fortunes, particularly at a time when voters will be going to cast their votes in Maharashtra and Haryana. There appears to be either lack of coordination among senior Congress leaders or there is a state of disarray and confusion in the party leadership because of the absence of a strong High Command. The sooner the Congress party puts its act together, the better.

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