There is a race among second rung leaders to resign from their posts in the party as a mark of loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family scion.
New Delhi: They are calling it Farewell Times.
The post-election trauma that has rocked the Indian National Congress (INC) shows no signs of abating soon. What initially seemed as an honest admission of failure to lead the party to a win in the general elections for the second consecutive term has now assumed farcical proportions. And this is serious.
Rahul Gandhi’s decision to resign as the president of the Congress and ask the Congress Working Committee to elect someone outside the family fold has been rejected by the highest party body, which has asked him to continue to be its leader. At the same time, there is a race among second rung leaders to resign from their posts in the party as a mark of loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family scion.
Resignation is no longer an effort at understanding the reasons for humiliating defeat, but a manoeuvre aimed at tightening grip over family heirloom. The exercise lacks the finesse that such moves would often be played out in the past.
The grand old party is a pale of its past though it continues to live in the make-believe world of the 1970s and 1980s when it had an ability to set the agenda and deliver on its political goals. Moreover, the Congress president no longer has the services of astute handlers like RK Dhawan and ML Fotedar, on whom his father and grandmother depended for successful implementation of such convoluted resignation dramas in the past.
Many Congress family loyalists see the resignation moves as another Kamaraj Plan. In reality, the move has no relation to the Kamaraj plan of the early 1960s. In 1962 Jawaharlal Nehru led the Congress to its third successive win in general elections, but the tide soon turned in the backdrop of humiliating military defeat India suffered soon at the hands of China.
The mood in the country was visible as in three by-elections in quick succession Opposition veterans Acharya Kriplani, Ram Manohar Lohia and Minoo Masani trounced Congress candidates. In this backdrop, Mas Chief Minister K. Kamaraj urged Prime Minister Nehru that all senior Congress leaders holding ministerial offices should resign and take up party work.
Several Central ministers including Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram and Moraji Desai resigned. This was followed up with Kamaraj, Biju Patnaik and SK Patil as resigning from the offices they held. Later, Shastri returned to the Cabinet as minister without portfolio to assist the Prime Minister. In many ways, Kamaraj Plan answered the question: Who after Nehru?
What is interesting is that Moraji Desai always resented the Kamaraj Plan, hinting this was aimed at ensuring that he was not in the contention for being the Prime Minister in post-Nehru era. But no one cared for his thoughts.
Though comparisons may be odious, the present Congress shenanigans have all the imprint of Mao’s “Bomb the headquarters” slogan of the Cultural Revolution of the mid-1960s. Facing isolation in the Communist Party of China as Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi pushed for modernisation, Mao from his stronghold of Shanghai raised the slogan “Bomb the Headquarters” and the Headquarters was the Chinese leadership minus Mao himself.
With too many leftist student leaders from Jawaharlal Nehru University as his advisors, Rahul Gandhi seems to have borrowed a leaf from Mao’s life. And it has backfired on Gandhi, considered by political cognoscenti as pale shadow of the Chinese leader.