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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Congress’ apathy is unfair to its voters and democracy

The spate of resignations only reflects the abysmal lack of direction in the party .

editorials Updated: Jul 01, 2019 08:57 IST

Hindustan Times
Tthere is a vacuum of leadership in the Congress, where Rahul Gandhi is still in charge on paper but is exercising power selectively.
Tthere is a vacuum of leadership in the Congress, where Rahul Gandhi is still in charge on paper but is exercising power selectively.(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
         

Over the past few days, triggered by Rahul Gandhi’s determined position that he will stick to his resignation as Congress president and hints that Rahul Gandhi would have liked others to take accountability, a range of Congress office bearers have resigned. These include the general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh; the in-charge of the national legal department; a few state presidents; younger All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretaries, and others who have risen up the ranks of the Youth Congress. They have also demanded that the older leaders take responsibility for the party’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections, asked for disbanding the Congress Working Committee (CWC), and sought the resignations of party chiefs of the 17 states (and Union Territories) where the Congress failed to win a single seat.

In itself, any resignation — that is engendered by a sense of taking responsibility for a political failure — is a step in the right direction in a democracy because it strengthens a sense of accountability. But the spate of resignations in the Congress only reflects the abysmal lack of direction in the party ever since the results of the Lok Sabha elections came out on May 23. Mr Gandhi decided to resign, but he let the CWC pass a resolution calling on him to stay on. For close to a month, even people in the most senior echelons of the party had little clue about whether he would indeed stay on or go. After his clear stance that he wants to go, there has been a quiet search for an alternative. But like most things in the Congress, this is not through an open, democratic, transparent process, but is something that only the top leaders — Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi — are expected to take a call on. Meanwhile, the rest of the party is adrift and everyone is just second guessing what the top leadership wants.

If indeed Rahul Gandhi had wanted his resignation to trigger a clean-up of the party and a reconstitution of its ranks, he should have said so and laid out a process for newer appointments. If he feels that other leaders, such as, say, general secretaries or state presidents, are as accountable for the failure, he should have come up with an alternative framework to rebuild the party. But neither has happened. Factional fights have broken out in states. There is an open war between the old guard and the younger leaders. And there is a vacuum of leadership, where Rahul Gandhi is still in charge on paper but is exercising power selectively. This is unfair to the party, to all those who voted for it, and to Indian democracy. The Congress needs to get its act together.

First Published: Jul 01, 2019 08:57 IST

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