Rajasthan crisis exposes infighting, indecisiveness in CongressUpdated: Jul 15, 2020 01:50 IST
New Delhi: The political crisis in Rajasthan, coming just threemonths after the fall of its government in Madhya Pradesh, has once again exposed the fault lines in the Congress as it confronts infighting in many states. Indecisiveness on the part of the Congress leadership cost the party dearly in Madhya Pradesh and triggered turbulence for its government in Rajasthan.
The power struggle between Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot has been going on for a long time. It escalated after the Congress came to power in the 2018 assembly elections when the party high command opted for Gehlot as the chief minister.
The gamesmanship peaked with a notice to Pilot from the Special Operations Group of the Rajasthan police to record his statement in connection with its probe into an alleged attempt to topple the Gehlot government.
Both Gehlot and Pilot repeatedly conveyed their grievances to senior leader Ahmed Patel, party general secretary in-charge of the organisation, KC Venugopal, and general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan Avinash Pande. But the differences persisted.
The developments in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have cast a shadow also on the stability of the government in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh where chief minister Bhupesh Baghel is engaged in a bitter power tussle with his cabinet colleague TS Singh Deo.
“The issue has also been brought to the notice of the Congress high command on many occasions but there seems to be no end to the turf war. Chhattisgarh in-charge PL Punia has failed to unite the warring leaders,” said a Congress functionary familiar with the development, requesting anonymity.
In Punjab, former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu is sulking and the Congress central leadership has failed to resolve differences between him and chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
“Sidhu is incommunicado for the past several months. He is visibly hurt and there is no reconciliation attempt from the central leadership so far,” said a Punjab Congress leader on condition of anonymity.
Sidhu is dealing directly with former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and has had no interaction with party’s Punjab in-charge Asha Kumari.
State chiefs of Telangana (Uttam Kumar Reddy) and Odisha (Niranjan Patnaik) resigned from their posts soon after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but the party leadership is still struggling to find replacements for them.
There is a broad consensus in the party that regional satraps need to be strengthened after the party’s unexpectedly good show in Haryana polls under former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda last year.
But the status quoist approach of the leadership has also demoralised the party cadre eagerly waiting for the oganisational reshuffle that was due after the humiliating defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Many All India Congress Committee (AICC) office bearers are continuing in their posts despite having submitted their resignations over a year ago, owning responsibility for the party’s poor show in the national elections.
General secretaries like Harish Rawat (Assam), Oommen Chandy (Andhra Pradesh), who is said to be spend much of his time in his home state Kerala, Luizinho Falerio (North East) are on the edge.
The party’s general secretary in-charge of Haryana, Ghulam Nabi Azad, is also not keen on looking after the affairs of the state.
Some in-charges of states like A Chella Kumar (Goa), Anugrah Narayan Singh (Uttarakhand), Ram Chandra Khuntia (Telangana) and Rajni Patil (Himachal Pradesh) are likely to be divested of their responsibilities.
Also, party general secretary in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir Ambika Soni had in 2017 requested the Congress high command to relieve her of the charge of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand because of health reasons.
Sonia Gandhi will complete her one-year term as interim Congress president on August 10 and is likely to be given an extension with Rahul Gandhi unwilling to once again assume the reins of the party in the immediate future.
Hyderabad-based political analyst and Congress watcher C Narasimha Rao said groupism had always plagued the party. “That is weakening the Congress. The central leadership has to take bold decisions and nip the factionalism in the bud. For that, there has to be a strong central leadership which is not the case right now,” he said.