Gathered Political

MP debacle a big blow to Congress ‘old guard’

NEW DELHI: The loss of Congress government in Madhya Pradesh marks a major setback for the opposition party for whom states were proving islands of power and solace in the wake of its near decimation at the national level.
Significantly, for the government which came to power 15 months ago after a wait of 15 years, the swift collapse marks a mortal embarrassment for the Congress “old guard” which was in-charge of the regime in the form of weathered warhorses Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh. In the generational battle that has gripped the party and left it rudderless, the “old guard” has prided itself for its political management which it has found lacking in the GenNext. The fall of the Nath regime has implications for internal organisational wrangling as Rahul Gandhi refuses to take back his resignation as party chief.
Facing a drought of victory after its rout in 2014 elections, Congress wrested a hat-trick of victory over BJP in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in December 2018. That they were BJP strongholds boosted the party morale besides the fact that it massively shrunk the saffron footprint nationally. Now, the soft dismissal in the heartland state is rankling the insiders no end.
The addition of three states to Punjab and Puducherry, coupled with the newly-acquired coalition regimes in Maharashtra and Jharkhand, provided the much-needed lifeline to demoralised Congress workers and the leadership alike. Leaders underline how Rahul Gandhi’s “yuva aakrosh rallies” post-2019 were held and were being planned in these states.
“If we are not able to consolidate power, we will be left with nothing. It is as much because of our political failure as it is owing to complete absence of leadership. There is no communication with the Gandhis,” an angry senior Congress functionary said.
The systemic disarray is highlighted by the fact that over 20 party MLAs crossed over to rival BJP in MP, close on the heels of desertion by a similar flock in Karnataka which brought down Congress’s alliance government with JD(S).
As Bhopal disaster left Congress licking its wounds, fingers were being pointed at veterans Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh, who together came to be known as the ruling camp of state Congress and whose dominance is blamed for Jyotiraditya Scindia’s decision to cross over to BJP.
Scindia, whom Rahul Gandhi has publicly called his friend and college mate, was at daggers drawn with the Nath-Singh duo because he was shut out of the state, a feeling exacerbated by the fact that sons of both the leaders have been blooded in MP politics.
While Rahul failed to ensure loyalty of his GenNext friend, it is a fact that he had left the management of MP unit to the old guard. That they had no clue that Scindia could remorselessly effect an ideological conversion along with 20-plus MLAs, puts a serious question mark on their famed management skills.
“If veterans are intolerant of young leadership and also incapable of steering a government, then what are they good at, what are they seeking the reins for,” was the refrain in Congress after Nath meekly tendered his resignation to avoid the floor test.
There is anger that overconfidence of these leaders denied ministries to allies and independents, which is the basic drill in a regime with wafer-thin majority. Also, corporations and other offices, which are used to accommodate MLAs, were not filled, while a good number of senior MLAs were angry at being left out right from the start. It all contributed to the fall that was not anticipated.

  • Source

    TOI

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