â€˜Off with their headsâ€™: Gandhis blame all but themselves for poll rout
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi blaming workers for the disastrous performance of her party in the Lok Sabha polls reminds one of Rabindranath Tagore's narrative poem ‘Puraton Bhritto’ or ‘Old servant’, particularly the line – ‘ja kihcu harai, ginni bolen keshta baitai chor (Anything that goes missing, the mistress says it must be Keshta)’.
“We will seek out the shirkers,” “we will find out workers who did not give their best,” Priyanka Gandhi huffed and puffed at Rae Bareli on Wednesday. She gave credit to her mother Sonia Gandhi for winning Rae Bareli and not workers.
Since the pathetic performance of the party, the Gandhi clan has been sulking, seething and hunting for scapegoats. They feel that the king can do no wrong. The dynasty is blaming everyone but themselves.
Initially, there were reports that at the working committee meet, the Gandhis had blamed senior leaders for not doing enough. On Wednesday, it was the turn of the party workers to bear the brunt.
Incidentally, it was Priyanka Gandhi who was in-charge of Uttar Pradesh. Replying to a question on why and how Priyanka Gandhi failed to have the desired impact, state unit chief Raj Babbar set the tone. “She did her job. But the workers, local leaders, candidates, and the organisation failed to rise to the occasion,” Raj Babbar told PTI.
While eyebrows were being raised at Priyanka Gandhi's scathing attack on workers, the fact remains that the Congress is an organisation built on projection, dynastic rule and is not a cadre-based outfit. Besides Congress, other regional outfits follow the dynastic and projection trend. Only outfits which are cadre-based in this country are either Left or Right. This election might have been all about Narendra Modi but it’s the strength of party workers which helped the party cross the 300 mark.
Priyanka Gandhi and her coterie are on a denial mode. They are refusing to accept that it is the leadership that impacts voters. The workers like the soldier ants are but a strong support system. If the queen bee fails to deliver, the soldier bees die. The hive collapses. It’s time Congress accepts the truth that it lacks leadership to counter the magic or the might of Narendra Modi. Rahul Gandhi becoming the first Gandhi to lose Amethi shows the failure of the leadership. Congress’ failure to strike right alliances in states, particularly in Uttar Pradesh is a reflection on the leadership, not the workers.
As for ‘shirking’, Priyanka Gandhi really needs to take a hard look at her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Since the rout, Rahul Gandhi is stung by the Hamletian dilemma. Some say he's behaving like Britain's Edward Heath (Prime Minister from 1970-74) who went into a shell after being trounced by Margaret Thatcher. He apparently felt “betrayed and showed his feelings by sporting a permanent sour face in Parliament”.
As the chasm, Congress is staring into gets bigger by the day, Rahul Gandhi continues to sulk. Rahul Gandhi is behaving like that angry, pampered brat, who locks himself up after losing a game. After the great defeat, instead of stepping out to galvanise the party, he again went into a shell. He has expressed his desire to step down but has not yet stepped down.
As Rahul's drama continues, Congress adhering to the usual tried and tested script pleads him to come back. “Rahul Gandhi was, is and will be our leader,” Randeep Singh Surjewala, party's chief spokesperson, has been going on and on. While the big brother is missing in action, the sister takes it out on the workers.
As Congress drifts like a rudderless ship, the BJP continues to move on like a well-oiled machine following its mantra of ‘Charaiveti, Charaiveti (keep walking)’.
With the crucial Assembly elections approaching, BJP has already launched a massive membership drive. Refusing to be complacent even after bagging 303 Lok Sabha seats, party president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah told workers to strive harder as the BJP has “still not peaked”.
In sharp contrast, Congress is ridden with infighting and factionalism across the country. In Maharashtra, the party is on the verge of a split, in Telengana leaders are in a rush to switch allegiance. Congress is all set to implode in Punjab. There's an open war between chief minister Ashok Ghelot and his deputy Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan. Governments are shaky in both Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.
This perhaps is the time for the party to consolidate with or without Rahul Gandhi. To consolidate and strengthen the organisation at the grass root level, the Congress highcommand needs to pull up leaders, not the foot soldiers.
Clearly, the Congress strategists failed to counter the narrative built by Modi and Shah-led BJP. To be fair, Rahul Gandhi made all the right noises -- talking about unemployment, Rafael, economic slowdown, but somehow the party strategists failed miserably in the propaganda section. Priyanka Gandhi, who seems to be the only visible Gandhi at the moment, had come to the party late. She and her party had sent out a confusing signal about her contesting against Modi from Varanasi. In its zeal to protect the family, the clan lacked the courage to take up the challenge. Rahul’s contesting from the second seat in Wayanad perhaps sent a wrong signal to the electorates at Amethi.
Congress needs to accept the fact that the Gandhis and the entire leadership failed to deliver. Instead of blaming the workers, Congress needs to take a hard look at itself and decide the road ahead. At this juncture, the Gandhis seem to be helping the BJP achieve its slogan for a ‘Congress mukt Bharat’.