Since the apparent success of the Bathinda rally on December 15 last year, an upsurge in favour of the Punjab Congress seems to be on the threshold of decline. The election-bound state is undeniably heading for a tough triangular contest. In the absence of its organisational structure for almost four months, the grand old party seems in a state of limbo, resulting in a complete disarray. The party’s grassroots cadre is facing a comprehensive disconnect with the state’s top leadership.
The Congress party’s proposed rallies are persistently being cancelled one after the other, without giving cogent reasons. The organisers of the constituency-level rallies have put in enormous resources to ensure their success. Intriguingly, a few of the organisers were told around midnight that their rallies stood cancelled while they had already incurred huge expenses on logistics, including food, beverages, transport and accommodation. In one case, the organisers had erected a huge waterproof tented pavilion at a substantial expense to accommodate people in view of the inclement weather. But, to their utter dismay, the rally was cancelled at the eleventh hour.
Such a worrying attitude of Capt Amarinder Singh does not bode well for the Congress in Punjab if discernible amends are not made before it is too late.
Worried party men
Punjab Congressmen, who should have been thoroughly mobilised and passionately put in the war mode by now, are seemingly disappointed. The way things are progressing at the higher echelon of the party, only God can rescue it out of such a remorseful situation. Now the question is: who would address such regressive state of affairs in the party?
The worried Congressmen from all over the state have a few questions: What would be the fate of the Congress in 2017 in case the present stalemate continued? What is ailing the Congress? Why is Capt Amarinder Singh not performing? They unanimously say that if this time they lose, the Congress would be consigned to the dustbin of Punjab’s political history the way it has happened in West Bengal. Some party colleagues are even wondering– genuinely so--whether the current state of affairs in Punjab Congress points to the strategic retreat?
‘Incommunicado ’ leadership
Many senior colleagues ask me, “Why don’t you discuss the matter with Capt Amarinder Singh? Little do they realise the fact that it’s no less than heroic to have an audience with him. And if you wish to speak to him on phone, you will have to go through so many channels operating around him, and even then the chances of success are remote. One wonders how the Congress will put up a brave fight in the ensuing Punjab assembly elections if the state party president inexorably remains ‘incommunicado’ for party workers, including me.
The much-hyped campaign committee headed by none other than Ambika Soni, a senior party leader, has been a non-starter, rather nonexistent, as yet. In the absence of a complete cohesion among senior leaders of the party, reports of fissures among them regularly appear in the media, jeopardising the spirit of unity among the ranks. The absurd disunity displayed by the Congress MLAs and the regretful performance of the leader of Opposition Charanjit Singh Channi in the budget session of the Punjab assembly has reduced the party to a sheer mockery. If such preposterous and irredeemable phenomenon doggedly continues to stay, then I am afraid, the Congress is certainly heading for indescribably unpleasant times ahead. Unfortunately, the signal has gone out, across the spectrum, as if the Congress now lacks vision, talent, unity and strength.
As Congressman, I am at great pains and despairingly express my anguish and helplessness in the matter. I beseech the instantaneous intervention of all men and women, who matter at the helm of the party, to salvage the Punjab Congress to overcome the existing rakishness. I am of the firm view that though the situation is abysmal, it is not yet beyond redemption. If addressed in the right perspective right now, the Congress could still be salvaged and geared up to take on the other two stakeholders in Punjab.
Destiny would never forgive us if we are unable to liberate Punjab from the Machiavellian manipulations of the present political dispensation. It’s a warning bell and wake-up call of ‘the time’ for the providence of the Congress party. Here I wish to invoke the prophetic warning by TS Eliot in The Wasteland: “Hurry up, please it is time, Hurry up, please it is time.”
(The writer is senior Congress leader and former deputy speaker of Punjab assembly. The views expressed are personal)