The Congress appointed a new president for its Bihar state unit on Sunday, more than two years after the previous one resigned. That this decision comes after such long delay is bad enough, but what is worse is that within 24 hours of his appointment, factions opposed to new president Ashok Choudhary have launched a discreet campaign against him.
Though nobody has come public — given Rahul Gandhi’s support for his selection — efforts to sabotage Choudhary have already started. Snuffing out this rebellion at once and empowering the PCC chief to take hard decisions are necessary preconditions if the party were to attain some fighting form before the next election.
While it is true that Rahul Gandhi did not attain much in terms of seats in Bihar and UP, he has set the right direction for the party. Rahul Gandhi appreciates that the Congress will never be in the reckoning in these two states unless it gives proper representation and leadership roles to backwards and Dalits. Not only the backward and dalit parties, even the BJP — often accused of being an upper caste party — has strong lower caste leadership in both these states. Congress under Gandhi is gradually changing — in Bihar, there were few lower caste candidates in 2010; in UP in 2012, Congress became an inclusive platform for all castes. The change is effected in leadership too — UP has a backward party chief and Bihar has a Dalit.
Strong resistance to such a change is predictable. However, the argument that upper castes would go away from Congress as a result is unfounded. Even with upper caste leadership in both these states, the party hardly performed. On the other hand, upper castes happily joined the BSP, JD (U) and SP on various occasions. Upper castes in both the states have reconciled to the changed dynamics of politics and play accordingly.
It certainly is a long journey for the Congress in UP and Bihar. But its direction is right and should not be altered under pressure from vested interests.