Poll-battered Congress struggles for revival

  • Hilal Ahmad Mir, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 07, 2014 01:40 IST

Smarting under its worst-ever defeat in Lok Sabha elections this year, the Congress appears to be in a painful churn, desperately looking for a rallying point to revive the party's standing in Indian politics.

While the BJP has Hindutva, the Left its Marx and smaller parties their regional planks, the Congress is facing overt and covert calls to reconsider its traditional reliance on the charisma of the Nehru-Gandhi family that helped the party rule India for a major part of the past six decades.

But the crushing defeat in the April-May elections has left many in the party questioning the ability of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul, to lead. Rumblings of discontent have grown in the party's states units from Punjab and Assam to Haryana and Maharashtra.

Recently, Congress rebel leader in Punjab Jagmeet Brar remarked that party president Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul, should take a country-wide tour to listen to the views of party workers. Brar has been issued a show-cause notice.

Read: Jaitley alleges rebellion in Cong after Rahul comments, Sonia Gandhi rubbishes charges

But that did not prevent AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi from endorsing his views and remarking that "the leadership should also be listening".

At the same time, there has been a growing clamour for Priyanka Gandhi to play a "more active" role. Oscar Fernandes, who was a special invitee to Congress highest decision making body CWC, told reporters on Tuesday that she should give more time to the party and that she does not need a post to do that.

Dwivedi too had reportedly said that late Rajiv Gandhi told him once that among his two children, Priyanka had shown interest in politics and possessed the "attitude" for a political career. Some interpret these calls as a sign of diminishing confidence in Rahul who was the undeclared face of the party's poll campaign.

The clamour increased after Congress' worst performance in general elections, when it got a paltry 44 Lok Sabha seats. Since then, many Congress politicians have publicly questioned Rahul's leadership.

Read: Rahul slams 'partial' Lok Sabha Speaker, says only one man's voice heard in Parliament

That is probably why for the first time since he became an MP in 2004, Gandhi on Wednesday walked towards the speaker's podium with fellow Congress members to join a small group of opposition MPs who were protesting against the government. A combative Rahul was demanding a discussion on communal violence and accused speaker Sumitra Mahahan of gagging opposition members.

Party insiders believe a resurgent leadership is needed to stem growing discord within the party, especially in the states. While Haryana leader Birender Singh is planning to join BJP, another senior leader from the state, Avtar Singh Bhadana, is learnt to be negotiating with Om Prakash Chautala's INLD. To make the matters worse, Haryana excise and taxation minister Kiran Chaudhary recently met a senior BJP union minister, sparking off speculations that she too might desert the party.

In Maharashtra, dissident Cabinet minister Narayan Rane had resigned after publicly criticising the party leadership and chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. He had withdrawn the resignation after consultations with Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash.

HT Column: A card played once: Rahul and renunciation

In Assam, a rebel group of about 38 legislators led by Himanta Biswa Sarma had told the governor that they had no confidence in Tarun Gogoi's leadership.

In all these states, where assembly elections are scheduled later this year, Congress had performed badly in the Lok Sabha election. The outcome of these polls, as also in Jharkhand, will make the Gandhi leadership even more vulnerable.

Assam
About 38 legislators led by rebel Himanta Biswa Sarma say they have no confidence in Tarun Gogoi's leadership. The party had performed badly in Lok Sabha polls under Gogoi

Maharashtra
While the party witnessed dissent in the form of a revolt by minister Narayan Rane, its ally NCP has shown signs of unease over seat distribution for coming assembly polls

Haryana
Congress leader Birender Singh planning to join BJP; another senior leader Avtar Singh Bhadana learnt to be negotiating with Om Prakash Chautala's INLD; taxation minister Kiran Chaudhary sets tongues wagging after meeting a senior BJP union minister

From Around the Web
Sponsored by Revcontent

also read

Sangh Parivar affiliates meet top BJP, RSS leadership over FDA ceilings
Show comments

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Chrome and Ad BlockPlus users

1.Press the ‘ABP’ icon in your toolbar at top right of this page

2. Click on ‘Enabled on this site’; this should now change to ‘Disabled on this site’


chrome



For Chrome and Ad Block users

1.Press the ‘AdBlock’ icon in your toolbar

2.Select the option ‘Don’t run on pages on this domain’ and then click ‘exclude’ on the pop up


chrome

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Mozilla and AdBlock Plus (ABP) users

1.Press the ‘ABP’ icon in your toolbar

2.Select the option ‘Disable on hindustantimes.com’


chrome

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Internet Explorer and AdBlock Plus users

1.Press the ‘AdBlock Plus’ icon in your status bar at the bottom of the screen

2.Select the option ‘Disable on hindustantimes.com’


chrome

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Safari and AdBlock users

1.Press the ‘AdBlock’ icon in your toolbar

2.Select the option ‘Don't run pages on this domain’ and then click 'exclude'


chrome