Jyotiraditya Scindia’s switching sides, quitting the Congress to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), may be the beginning of bigger troubles for the grand old party. This is symptomatic of the decline that the GOP has been experiencing in the last few years.
At the heart of the problem are two issues. First, the Congress remains the family enterprise of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty. This means that it would always be headed by somebody from the family. While party president Sonia Gandhi is competent enough to have kept the party together and win power twice, the same cannot be said about Rahul, who has failed repeatedly.
Second, the party remains wedded to the discredited socialist ideology. It can come up only with Leftwing ideas and pro-poor rhetoric. But the problem is that the Narendra Modi government is saying the same things and implementing some of the pro-poor schemes with much greater efficiency than the GOP ever did. This deprives the Congress of some of the major electoral planks.
The consequences, for the GOP, are deplorable. As Pradyot Manikya Debbarma, a former Tripura royal and Scindia’s cousin, recently wrote in a Facebook post on the day Scindia resigned: “I spoke to Jyotiraditya Scindia late night and he told me that he waited and waited but there were no upcoming appointments given to him by ‘our’ leader.”
Debbarma went on to write, “When I had resigned as the president of the Congress in Tripura, I had said that the young guard feels ‘orphaned’ and let down after Rahul Gandhi abruptly quit as the president and left us in a lurch. Suddenly our views were sidelined and the ‘stalwarts’ had started to disregard our policies on key issues.”
It looks like the Congress top brass is clueless about the intra-party struggle. Scindia has quit; Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan is sulking; Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Haryana is powerful on his own and may leave the party anytime. Without a viable, alternative ideology and resolute leadership, the Congress is adrift. Debbarma’s remark that the GOP has become just an old party, dominated by the old guard, may be too harsh, but it is indubitable that the Congress has to act fast to check terminal decline..