SONIA GANDHI IS BACK AT the helm of the Congress in a formal way, and the cronies that surrounded her in the past have restored the glee on their faces. There, for them, is some hope. Overall, it’s also clear that Congressmen across the political spectrum as also well-wishers of the grand old party have heaved a sigh of relief.
No More A Face-Saving Exercise
Sonia Gandhi’s leadership of the party in the past was praiseworthy, she held the organisation firmly under her grip for about 20 years, and worked from behind – which too was her forte – thereafter to see her son handle matters of the party under her tutelage of course. Sonia Gandhi is crafty, no doubt, but there is little to expect that she can rejuvenate the Congress party at this juncture in her capacity as interim president. At best, for the Congress leadership, this is no more than a face-saving exercise.
True, the CWC took the right decision under the circumstances. Rahul Gandhi is in a state of perpetual shaping up. He’s failing to mature. Even in times of ignominy, he is demonstrating his immaturity. He was in Kerala a day ago in the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district, close to his Wayanad constituency. TV visuals showed him saying he called up Prime Minister Modi and asked him to render necessary central assistance (to the flood-hit) and also “asked” chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to speed up the relief works. His tone and tenor were such that he thought of himself as the Lord over all else, he being above the PM and the CM, and as if they were waiting for instructions from him to act. How ludicrous!
A supreme leader of the Congress trinity, who was defeated in his family pocket borough of Amethi and scripted the obituary of the Congress party at the national level, should, in the minimum, display a sense of humility. At least for now. He would not. Imperiousness comes naturally to him even as he’s a laughing stock, and his weak leadership failed to lift the spirits of the partymen!
Sonia Gandhi > Rahul Gandhi
It’s safe to guess that Congressmen are happy Rahul Gandhi stood apart and Sonia Gandhi is back at the helm. Other than in the matter of corruption, she held dignity in public conduct and spoke no more than what she was absolutely required to in the past three decades after her husband’s demise; and in the era before that too.
Contrast this with Rahul Gandhi’s blabbering. She held the party together and gave out the feeling that she has great grip over its affairs. She might do a good job again, unlike Rahul Gandhi who failed to measure up. After being in circulation in politics for two decades, he’s still in the process of “shaping up.” In reality, he’s going round and round and reaching nowhere.
Consider the drama he enacted on Saturday night. He left the CWC meet along with his mother a short while after the CWC meeting started its work to split into sub-groups and do brainstorming on selection of a replacement for Rahul Gandhi. By the time the subgroups, one after another, decided that no one from outside the family can fit the bill, and that Sonia Gandhi could be the final choice, Rahul Gandhi virtually stormed into the meeting at night and sought to shift focus. This, he said, was not the time to discuss who should be the party president, but to apply mind on Kashmir. Did he do so after getting wind of the mood in favour of getting Sonia Gandhi back to the party chief post? Why this drama?
If he feels someone outside the Nehru family should head the party, why get himself involved in party affairs anymore in a commanding tone? Why he stormed in now in virtual desperation and brought up Kashmir, even as he failed to open his mouth when he sat through proceedings in Parliament, on Kashmir? And, why did he seek to create panic at night when nothing unpredictable was happening in Kashmir for the past many days? Rahul Gandhi wants to prove that he’s the boss even when he stepped aside and asked others to find a president for the party.
Admittedly, the Congress party is zero without the family halo.
The Congress of today is the party formed by Indira Gandhi after she defied the leadership of the Indian National Congress and found herself being suspended from the party. The Congress (Indira) eventually shed its suffix and fashioned itself as the real Congress. In a party filled with power-seekers, she as Prime Minister virtually managed to gobble up the real grand old party. The old guard who led the INC could not withstand her machinations. Leadership and prime minister post passed from her, after her assassination, to her son Rajiv Gandhi; and a few years after his assassination to Sonia Gandhi; and then for a year to her son.
True, the family cannot be expected to hand over the baton to someone outside the family on a platter. Let’s admit that the party is the family’s very own, to which Indians rightly or wrongly reposed their faith for long years – and learned bitter lessons out of it too.
BJP & The Change in Indian Politics
Notably, not just arguably, the social and political scenarios in India have changed in spectacular ways. More so after the BJP and the RSS played the smart game of bringing Narendra Modi centre-stage. Modi carried with him Amit Shah. The two are like bread and cheese; a perfect fit. Together, they formed a lethal combination. The RSS which forms the main bulwark for the BJP has strengthened itself and strengthened its political arm too in a big way. Modi and Shah today represent the nationalistic spirit of India – cut across caste barriers. They are here to do a thing or two, and wider India is enthused.
Those who criticise them for their bold action in Kashmir are either jealous of the gut instincts Modi and Shah showed vis-a-vis Kashmir, or are seeking to pander to the last straw of support for them, the Muslims. These leaders, brainless wonders, include the likes of Sitaram Yechury and D Raja. Kashmir is smouldering for ages, and strong action was the calling of the times. The Modi government showed its resoluteness in its first term itself – by exterminating a highly popular militant Burhan Wani. From there started the turnaround. Modi took matters to its logical conclusion, end of Chapter One, for now.
This was “now or never” for Modi to act; act immediately after he and his party won a landslide win, also based on a manifesto which made clear what action the party contemplated in Kashmir. By being belligerent, Kashmiris cannot hope to regard themselves as a special class of citizens. Some 90 per cent of the central funds going to Kashmir was by way of grant.
In other words, India kept sinking its funds (our ) money in Kashmir to buy peace with its people; year after year. The youths there were not willing to do work; they were paid by Pakistani establishment to indulge in stone-pelting on security forces drawn from other parts of India; our brothers. Kashmiris cannot afford to be thankless to the huge funds they kept getting from India. Full integration of Kashmir with India was a masterstroke of the Modi government. And, Rahul Gandhi is now manufacturing a scenario of utter chaos in Kashmir!
No one expected complete peace in Kashmir after this historic central decision on Kashmir. But, so far, things are fully under control. That speaks for the kind of security preparations the government has made. The emperors there are now without clothes. The Abdullahs and the Muftis have been exposed to their bones. Gulam Nabi Azad does not need any expose, as his vested interests were there for all to see, all along. He fitted in well with the loot-brigade that led the Congress party.
Pakistan is virtually blinking. It does not know what to do. Imran Khan already has his hands full. The economy is in a shamble. The military brass has bled the country for long, taking its precious wealth they acquired through huge corruption in the military deals to tax havens and investment destinations like Dubai and elsewhere with rare flourish. They outwitted even the big league of Indian crooks who did the same. The Pakistani military had lost its face in the context of Balakot. The IAF fighter jets reached close to Rawalpindi, the military headquarters, without being detected. What was the military brass – the self-styled brood who claimed to be the ultimate protectors of Pakistan — doing then?
It will take ages for the Pakistani military to hope and regain its stature which was lost through a major loss of face. All threats about its resort to nuclear route to level up India have vanished into thin air. In what was the retaliation the next day, not a single Pakistani fighter jet dared to cross the LoC to the Indian side. They scrambled all their fighter jets, performed a show from above their skies, and still lost one fighter jet. India too lost one fighter jet, which aggressively forced its way to the enemy territory to take on the Pakistanis.
Overall, Imran Khan started losing his sleep from then on. The Modi government scrapping the special autonomous status for once and all came as another embarrassment to the Pakistanis out to create trouble in the Valley for long years. Pakistan’s threat is that it would go to the Security Council with a complaint on Kashmir. It had done this in the past without success. What is guarantee that it could smell success now? This, at best, is one way to calm tempers in Pakistan – amid feelings that both the military and the civil administrations have let the nation down.
The military brass can still smile their way through the billions they siphoned out of Pakistan into their secret accounts or business units abroad. What of the ordinary masses? With Pakistan sinking all its money into the military kitty to buy arms to fight India, the economy took a major hit. Pakistan has no money to feed its people, let alone wage a war with India. It still might, because the generals can make more money out of a war too, irrespective of the harm it could cause to their nation and its people.
Back in India, with the Modi establishment earning more brownie points from its bold actions vis-a-vis Kashmir, can a down-and-out Congress expect of Sonia Gandhi to wield a magic wand and revive its fortunes? Fact is, there is no Congress party in most states, other than bunches of self-seeking, corrupt politicians scurrying around to make a fast buck. The party’s government in Madhya Pradesh led by Kamal Nath can fall anytime. So with the Congress government in Rajasthan, as both do not have the required numbers to face legislative onslaughts.
Will Sonia Gandhi Save the Sinking Ship of the Grand Old Party?
The return of Sonia Gandhi to the party chief post by itself will be of little help to the party to save its face in these two states – the principal provinces where the Congress is in power, other than in Punjab where Captain Amrinder Singh would hold out on his own. It is likely that, if only to spite Sonia Gandhi and further spell doom for the Congress, the Modi-Shah duo might quietly turn their gaze on MP and Rajasthan, sooner rather than later. A casual glance from them would do to dump the two governments.
The Congress, the family enterprise that has deceit writ largely on its face – as is the case with India’s Communists too; a reason why they made a good pair out of themselves – is caught by a death wish. It promoted spoke for the poor and promoted elitism to the hilt. In human development indices, most African nations are far ahead of India, ruled for most part by the “first family.” Deceit remained as the sheet anchor of its political and governance engagements. It raised the slogan of socialism to fool the poor; and it raised secularism to fool the minorities; and this is true of Muslims too, who are mostly in poverty and want. It now stands for minorities at grave expense of the interests of the majority. The wider Hindu population, it always thought, could be taken for granted. And, now too. How else to explain its opposition to the Modi government’s strong pitch in Kashmir? What message has this sent out to the wider Indian masses?
The Congress and the two Communist parties proved yet again that their bases have shrunk almost exclusively to the minority space – Muslim and Christian — which is less than about 20 per cent of the Indian population. They can unitedly demonstrate their political clout in Kerala, where minorities form about 47 per cent of the population. Numbers matter. Sonia Gandhi would need to know as much. She could, in her new avatar, be doing no more than digging the grave for the Congress establishment. The party is virtually zero in most states. With the team of Modi and Shah demonstrating their killer instincts to the hilt, what future awaits the Congress is anybody’s guess.