Senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily is quite right in venting his frustration that the central party leadership has been inactive following declaration of Rahul Gandhi’s intention to quit the president’s post in the aftermath of defeat in the Lok Sabha election.
While Mr Gandhi seems to have placed his resignation on the table, this has not yet been formally accepted by the Congress Working Committee. In the meantime, no one has stepped in even on an ad hoc basis to carry out the work of the president. This appears to be at the heart of Mr Moily’s complaint. He has quite rightly pointed out that little eruptions in the Congress have begun to occur in several states.
In Telangana, for instance, the Congress as good as split a few days ago, with 12 of its 18 MLAs joining the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the state's ruling party. Even if the legislators were lured to defect, as appears not unlikely, it is evident that the central Congress leadership sat back without intervening, and watched the inevitable unfold.
There has been regular sniping by Congress MLAs — apparently of the faction of Sachin Pilot, the PCC chief — against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan for contributing to the party’s whitewash in the Lok Sabha polls by focussing attention only on the Jodhpur seat where his son was the candidate. In retaliation the CM has blamed the state party president.
In Punjab, former cricketer and maverick minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has not let up in his defiance of chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. In Karnataka, a prominent Congress figure is making things difficult for the party as well as the Congress-JD(S) ruling alliance.
In the absence of a functioning Congress president, the situation can begin to look more and more unsteady at the organisational level. Mr Moily's observations should, in fact, serve as a timely warning. He seems to be quite clear in his mind that while the party would like Mr Gandhi to resume work as party chief, the Congress doesn’t deserve to remain untended on an indefinite basis.
He is right that such a state of affairs can conceivably lead to division and organisational split, and has therefore urged Mr Gandhi to make appropriate arrangements to find a suitable replacement for himself. The CWC as a body, and particularly Sonia Gandhi, who was recently re-elected chair of the Congress Parliamentary Party, must take note and take timely and effective action. If not, a cascade of blame from within the party may well engulf the top party leadership, including Mr Gandhi.
At a critical political moment for the country, when the only other all-India party has returned to power on a massive mandate on a so-called nationalist agenda that mobilises the majority community, the disintegration of the Congress — whose credo is tolerance and a secular polity —can hurt the country....