Congress Desertions

CONGRESS has suffered another jolt with the exit of the senior leader Kapil Sibal. He has now been supported by Samajwadi Party in his nomination for Rajya Sabha. Talking to reporters, Sibal said he had quit the Congress on May 16, a day after the party’s Chintan Shivir (Strategy Meet).  He had been left out of the big meet and was no longer a part of the Congress’ advisory groups. This is the latest high-profile exit from the Congress and the fifth in five months. And all of them were very senior leaders.

Sibal’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 was not even in the distant reckoning in the recent all-important election in Uttar Pradesh.  And it had no chances in other four states which went to the polls. In fact, Congress even lost Punjab where it was expected to perform well. This is why a breakaway group led by Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma and calling itself G-23 is seeking 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 boast 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 general election of 2024 unless 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. While Chintan Shivir was an important deliberation, its outcome will depend on how Congress implements it.

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