How does one interpret the present political crisis in Rajasthan? Is it the power struggle between the old guard and the young Turks? Is it the ambition of the younger leaders like Sachin Pilot, who haves no patience to wait for their turn? Is it the weakness of the Congress high command, which failed to recognise the danger? Is there a BJP hand in destabilising the Ashok Ghelot government? Is it the ego clash between Ghelot and Sachin Pilot? Above all, is it the leadership crisis in the Congress?
The answer is that it is a bit of all of these. The crisis could have been averted had the leadership believed in the motto ‘a stich in time saves nine. ”
No doubt a bitter power struggle has been going on for some time in the Congress between the old guard and the new at all levels. The old guard fears that they would be side lined if the younger lot gets absolute power. That was one of the reasons the old guard has been blocking the handover of complete control of the party to Rahul Gandhi and brought back Sonia Gandhi as the party chief after Rahul Gandhi resigned last August as party’s interim president.
The young Turks, on the other hand, are getting impatient and when they see there is no future in the party, decide to move out. This was the case for Jyotiraditya Scindia to exit earlier and it is the turn of Sachin Pilot’s rebellion now. Since power is the only criteria for many in politics, they are no exception.
It is not a big secret in the Congress circles that chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Pilot were having an ego clash. Insiders claim that Sachin was planning to do a Scindia in Rajasthan in March, but the Covid-19 outbreak halted it. He was getting impatient, as the Congress high command did nothing to resolve the brewing crisis.
The Congress case is that Pilot was given his due in the party. He became an MP when he was barely 26, became the party’s state president and then moved on to become the deputy chief minister of Rajasthan. He was part of the inner circle of Rahul Gandhi.
When Rahul resigned last year after the Lok Sabha polls, the names of both Scindia and Pilot were doing the rounds for the post of the party chief. The other young leaders are also growing increasingly restless. Most were once part of Rahul's inner coterie.
The Congress is blaming the BJP for these desertions but the blame to a large extent goes to the Congress leadership. After having encouraged the younger leaders like Scindia and Pilot, they were dumped when the time came for their turn to become the chief minister in 2018. The BJP was waiting with open arms to embrace the sulking leaders.
The BJP’s strategy has been to import leaders of stature from other parties and weaken the opposition. Starting from Himant Biswa Sarma in Assam, the BJP operation has been successful in luring others like Sanjay Singh, Scindia, Jay Panda to name a few. When Scindia quit the Congress, a BJP leader said, “We have got Scindia and also a government.” Similarly, if Sachin joins the BJP, he will bring a government with him.
The question is what does the leaders like Scindia and Pilot get in BJP? Scindia got a Rajya Sabha berth and a promise to be made a minister. The same may go to Sachin.
Could these leaders emerge as an alternative power centre to Prime Minister Narendra Modi? The answer is a big NO. At least in the Congress, they were seen as an alternative to Rahul Gandhi. So they want to prove their clout by bringing down the Congress government if they do not have their way.
With all these internal problems the Congress party is imploding. The solution is in the hands of the present Congress leadership. The Congress party seems to be a loser even after winning a state because of its own factionalism. Several Congress leaders – young and old – are worried about their future in a party, which has not learnt its lessons.
The Grand Old Party is on its way to become a regional party. The Congress leadership should realise it.
The last time it happened was in 1997, when Sonia Gandhi entered politics but she was able to bring the party to power in 2004. The same Sonia Gandhi looks helpless now.
For a course correction, the top leadership should be accessible and at least meet those with grievances. Secondly, they must check indiscipline and factionalism in the party. The third is to devise a long- term strategy to attract the youth and talented people. But how can they lure the youth when young and presentable leaders are leaving the party? The fourth is to set the house in order.
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Lastly, this kind of Aya Ram Gaya ram’ and resort politics should be checked. Whether Sachin remains or not the problem remains. The top priority should be to resolve the leadership crisis first.