Beleaguered Congress

THE resignation of Ashwani Kumar, a senior Congress leader and a Gandhi loyalist has come as yet another setback to the Congress party. Kumar, a former law minister, has raised questions about the  Congress party’s ability to win polls. He has made it clear that the Congress lacks an “inspirational leadership”.  The group of G23, a rebel faction led by senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma have sympathised with Kumar and a member of the Rajya Sabha. Manish Tewari, one of the members of the G-23 has termed Kumar’s exit as “sad”. He added it was unfortunate that Kumar felt “compelled to take this call.” Anand Sharma, another top G-23 member, termed the exit “a matter of collective concern.”  And Ghulam Nabi Azad, a former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and G23 leader, underscored that "there was something wrong" when leaders like Kumar leave the party.

Kumar’s resignation should certainly be a moment of deep reflection for the Congress. The party which ruled India for over fifty years after independence is now finding it difficult to even win state elections. For example, it is not even in the distant reckoning in the ongoing all-important election in Uttar Pradesh.  And its chances look slim in other four states going to polls. This is why a breakaway group led by Azad and Sharma  and calling itself G-23 is calling for serious reforms in the party. But this has split the Congress down the middle with Gandhi family supporters and opponents at loggerheads with each other. However, G23’s rebellion marks a break from the passivity of the last seven years with the party apparently seeming to have resigned to its current lot. But it won’t also be easy to elect a non-Gandhi president. And the party has its own reasons for this: a Gandhi not being at the helm will run the risk of breaking the party up. Also, in the present circumstances, Congress doesn't boost of many a mass leader -albeit, there are many senior politicians who can be worthy successors to Gandhi. Gandhi’s term at the helm has shown that he is not just up to the task.

It is now clear that the wave of Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains alive and kicking. After a few reverses here and there over the last seven years, Modi's appeal has only grown stronger. He looks favourite to win many more Assembly polls, more so, the upcoming election in Uttar Pradesh unless Congress and wider opposition gets its act right. That is, if no credible opposition emerges from the shadows in the near future, a prospect that looks bleak.

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