What Congress should learn from Amit Shah
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday called on President Pranab Mukherjee. It was not immediately known about the purpose of the meeting which came in the backdrop of demands from Congress for the post of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
New Delhi: While the BJP has acted fast in appointing not only a new party president but also a new team to take charge of its affairs, the Congress sits twiddling its thumbs even months after its massive defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. The party is either clueless or simply happy to let matters drift. The lack of a sense of urgency is conspicuous in its post-election conduct. If the Congress has run short of ideas to revive the party, it should perhaps take a few lessons from the way BJP chief Amit Shah has selected his team of party office-bearers, according to firstpost.com.
Quick decision making: That’s the immediate lesson that the Congress needs to learn from the saffron outfit. It was in July that Amit Shah was named as BJP president after his predecessor Rajnath Singh was busy handling more important matters as the Home minister. It has taken him less than a month to suggest and get the list of party office-bearers approved from his seniors and the RSS top brass before the formal announcement. In contrast, true to the Congress style, senior leader AK Antony submitted a report on the party’s poor performance almost two months after it was handed a crushing defeat.
Antony’s report, which is believed to run into hundreds of pages, exonerates Gandhi scion Rahul of his responsibility as party’s chief campaigner. “No one is willing to discuss the real reasons for the party’s debacle in the general elections,” says a senior leader on condition of anonymity. “What do you expect in the report (Antony)? It was all done to deflect the attention away from the high command,” he confides.
Youth power: While Rahul has been using the “youth” card for the past decade, nothing has changed at the organisation level to reflect his confidence on the young. The old guard still rules the roost in the party - Sonia, who leads the pack, is 67. Her trusted lot at the top includes Ahmed Patel (65), Motilal Vora (85), Janardan Dwivedi (68), Antony (73), Madhusudan Mistry (69), Ambika Soni (71), Digvijaya (67), Ghulam Nabi Azad (65) and Oscar Fernandes (73). No young face here. Rahul’s idea of internal elections in the Indian Youth Congress and NSUI have only resulted in money playing a more crucial role in enrolling numbers in favour of respective candidates. That leaves very little space for the second rung and new leaders to learn the ropes within the organisational setup.
In contrast, the BJP has taken a more practical approach to the issue. First, Narendra Modi used social media to attract and involve millions of first time voters during the 2014 election campaign. This move took the Congress totally by surprise. Now Shah’s new team has no leader over the age of 75 with former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa being the lone member (vice president) to be over 70 years of age. Seniors like Kalyan Singh, CP Thakur, Balbir Punj and SS Alhuwalia have been rested. Almost 85 percent of the office-bearers are below 60 years while Amit Shah himself leads the team being a few months short of his 50th birthday.
Sense of discipline: While the Congress has seen a flurry of differing opinions being aired in the open after the general elections, most of those making the comments seem to be sitting pretty within the organisation with no threat of action. That shows the lack of direction and cohesion within the party’s top brass. At a time when the high command should have stepped in to stem the rot, there seems almost no sense of purpose or indication of things to come from the Gandhi family.
Narendra Modi has ensured that the new team of Amit has no one who can take party discipline into their own hands. Ironically, the example is of Rahul’s first cousin Varun who was dropped as BJP gen secy in the new team.
He had stoked a controversy when he disputed BJP’s claims of the numbers attending a Modi rally in Kolkata during the election campaign earlier this year. His mother Maneka Gandhi made matters worse when she batted in public for Varun as being projected as Uttar Pradesh chief minister a few days ago.
Keep family at home: Although no party in India can boast of not having dynastic politics in their organisation, Shah has tried to minimise this. Be it the case of Maneka and Varun, or Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia’s 40- year-old son Dushyant Singh, they find no place in Amit Shah’s team. 39-year-old Anurag Thakur and son of ex HP CM PK Dhumal was not considered for a ministerial berth but retained as the party’s youth wing president.
Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh’s son has also been elected to Parliament and Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh also has political ambitions, but they have been deliberately kept away from the mainstream.
While the Congress vice president is himself a product of dynastic politics, one cannot expect him to end the very system that has upheld the seat of power for his family for the past five generations. But he needs to quickly get his act together and lead the way with a brand new approach to the biggest challenge his party has ever faced. It’s time Rahul moves away from closed door meetings and moved into revamping the huge party structure.
Sonia calls on President
New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday called on President Pranab Mukherjee. It was not immediately known about the purpose of the meeting which came in the backdrop of demands from Congress for the post of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.