The Congress must get its act together
On Friday, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) is set to meet to discuss the way forward for the party’s organisational makeover and elections. This is long due. There is an acute leadership crisis in the Congress — Sonia Gandhi is president but doesn’t want to be in charge; Rahul Gandhi doesn’t want to be president but is the key power centre; and other aspirants don’t quite know whether the Nehru-Gandhi family wants to be in or out.
There is an acute organisational crisis — state units are ridden with factionalism, and even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) builds its election-winning machine on the ground, the Congress footprint is shrinking. And there is an acute ideological crisis — the party vacillates between being Centre-Right on identity issues, carefully staying away from minority-related concerns or questions of secularism and nationalism, while being pretty far to the Left on economic issues, as evidenced in Rahul Gandhi’s attack on farm laws and Indian capitalism.
CWC is itself a part of the problem, for it is a body of nominated individuals, many with limited or non-existent mass base who have thrived on patronage politics. The room for dissent in the party is limited even as leaders can see that its electoral prospects — in both state polls and 2024 elections — remain dim. All of this calls not just for another routine working committee meeting which produces a statement about having faith in the current leadership. What is needed is a radical surgery and an overhaul at each level of the party. The Congress owes it to Indian democracy to get its act together.