Changing political trend in India:

It was a miracle in Indian politics, when Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won the Delhi election for the first time in 2015. The victory was described by Arvind Kejriwal himself as “Scary”.
There was lot of extravaganzas during their first term in power due to lack of experience, the generous amount of trouble from Modi led BJP and the media who haunted AAP leaders. Despite all that controversies, AAP was able to meet the expectations of people in Delhi. Or they were able to win the confidence of Delhi voters. So, it was cake walk for AAP in the next Delhi election in 2020. It amused BJP leaders.
Advent of AAP and Modi becoming prime minister had a common factor, which is widespread corruption during UPA II and the “India Against Corruption” movement led by Anna Hazare. After the landslide victory in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP won most seats in any state which went into polls to elect government. At the same time, AAP made attempts to be a national party with its presence across India, but was not successful like what they expected. AAP declared that they are no longer a regional party, after winning Punjab election. The victory of AAP in Punjab makes us think; is it AAP going to be main rival party of BJP in the near future?
Congress the grand old party in India was founded in 1885, by Allan Hume. Congress led India’s freedom struggle. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, B R Ambedkar, Pakistan founder Muhammed Ali Jinnah and Subhas Chandra Bose were amongst its prominent leaders. Congress ruled independent India for more than 50 years.

BJP, formerly known as Bharatiya Jan Sangh was founded by the RSS( Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in 1951. It’s growth was slow until the 1989 election, when it suddenly surged from 2 to 85 seats. BJP formed it’s first government at the centre in 1996. Atal Bihari Vajpayee led the alliance and the government lasted only for 13 days. Since then, the politics in India at national level has been between the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by Congress and the NDA ( National Democratic Alliance), led by BJP.

In India, elections took place in nine states and in a Union territory, in the last one year. Unfortunately, Indian National Congress didn’t win even one out of ten. Congress, the leader of UPA (opposition), has power in just one state, which is Chattisgarh. Congress is coalition partner in Rajasthan. Congress is part of ruling alliance in three other states, where Congress is among many other parties, with a very small stake. And they are Tamilnadu, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.

On the other hand, we have NDA led by BJP which has power in 18 states. There is going to be elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh by the end of this year. Both the states are ruled by BJP and it is difficult for Congress to dethrone BJP in these two states. It is going to be more or less the same in Karnataka, where the election is due next year.
All political parties in India will start campaigning for the next national election in eighteen months from now. And the big question is; who will lead UPA in the next general election? Or, is it going to be a new alliance?

In 2018, the Congress won Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Those who considered Rahul Gandhi as a dimwit, predicted that the Congress led by Rahul Gandhi will defeat NDA in 2019 national election. It is time for Congress to understand where it went wrong?

After every failure, the Congress working committee (CWC) will convene a meeting and there will be a deep dive analyses to find the reason for their defeat. As usual Rahul Gandhi will prepare his resignation or will go on a vacation. And his supporters will demand him to continue as their leader. This has been the practice since 2014 general election.
A group of 23 leaders (G-23) wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in August 2020 to press for inner party reforms. People across India could have appreciated this move, if it was during UPA II, when scams and scandals started coming into light one after the other. Instead, they choose to make statements like “Zero loss” and lost their credibility.
Former union minister Kapil Sibal
Congress party workers marched to Kapil Sibal’s house with placards reading ‘get well soon” and rained tomatoes outside his house. Since then, it became a Congress versus Congress movement.

Kapil Sibal said “in our party, at the movement, we have no president”. He said in an interview to the Indian express; we want ‘Sab Ki Congress, (everyone’s Congress) and not ‘Ghar Ki Congress’ (family Congress). He said; we are G-23, but definitely not “Ji Huzoor (Yes men). G-23 challenged the party’s failure in Assam, a Congress stronghold in the past.

A day after Kapil Sibal’s interview to the Indian Express, he said that Gandhis should step away from the leadership of the party.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked Kapil Sibal to leave the party and prove his identity. “Fight for your ideology on your own, there’s no outcome of just giving interviews”, he added.

Due to the resistance, many G-23 leaders are distancing themselves from the group. Some of them are Shashi Tharoor, Veerappa Moily and Gulam Nabi Azad.

After the failure in all five states in recent election, Sonia Gandhi said; “we three (the Gandhi’s) are ready to “step back”, only to hear a immediate chorus; there is no question of Gandhi’s resigning.

In the midst of criticism from G-23 leaders, there were many Congress leaders like Ashok Gehlot, DK Shiva Kumar, Srinivas BV and Alka Lamba who expressed their confidence in Gandhis. Ahead of the CWC meeting, Gehlot said that Rahul Gandhi should take over as party president again to keep the party United.

Mani Shankar Iyer is good at reputation management and he claimed that the G-23 is not a faction within the Congress. G-23 a faction within Congress is fiction of media. He said G-23 is not against Gandhi’s and is against BJP. He added that G-23 is part and parcel of the Congress and not a rebel faction.

It is true that Gandhis are the only acceptable leaders for Congress leaders and workers from across India. Sonia Gandhi was far better then her son and daughter in leading the party. Now she is old and sick. Both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra failed to win elections. They are not good at ending politics within the party. It is leadership crisis, where Congress do not have someone charismatic and acceptable to all. Both Congress and the G-23 leaders just cannot do without one another.
There were several wrong decisions made by Rahul Gandhi and it was without consulting the senior leaders like Gulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Sibal. For example; announcing Charanjit Singh Channi as the Chief ministerial candidate of Punjab was a decision taken by Rahul Gandhi, when he is not the president of Congress. Such decisions were taken without consulting the senior leaders is what makes them say; It is ‘Ghar Ki Congress’ (family Congress) and not ‘Sab Ki Congress, (everyone’s Congress). Such decisions taken by his ancestors were acceptable to other leaders in the past, because their strategy helped Congress to win elections. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are all acting High Commands of Congress, when Congress is facing defeat after defeat.

Congress is going through a crisis. It is the result of what they did in the last three decades.

Last year incumbent LDF won in Kerala for the second consecutive term. If not, Communist party wouldn’t have had power in entire India and Congress could have had power in one more state. People in Kerala elected LDF, because they lost their faith in Congress. Congress is fading. And there was internal politics within Congress in Kerala, before and after election. After the defeat in the election in Kerala, Rahul Gandhi found a fix for this. It was to deploy Ramesh Chennithala in Punjab or in Gujarat. Ramesh Chennithala is a senior Congress leader, who is known for his aggressiveness and assertiveness, while dealing with LDF in Kerala. Ramesh Chennithala handled home ministry during the last UDF government led by Congress in Kerala. He being a strong opposition leader in Kerala will help Congress in the next election. But, Rahul Gandhi wanted to deploy him in Punjab to fix an issue created by none other than the Gandhi’s. Second option for Ramesh Chennithala a leader from Kerala, who is not good at both Hindi and Gujarati, was to go help the party in Gujarat, a BJP bastion.

Y S Rajasekhara Reddy popularly known as YSR, died in a helicopter crash on 2 September 2009. He was the then chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. After his death, the Congress high command Sonia Gandhi selected K Rosaiah as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. Her decision was against majority of Congress leaders in the state, who wanted YSR’s son Jagan Mohan Reddy as his father’s successor. Congress wanted to restrict Jagan from getting the political leverage through Odarpu Yatra. Hence Sonia Gandhi objected Jagan's wish to do ‘Odarpu Yatra’. Odarpu Yatra meaning a promise made by Jagan to go meet family members of 660 people, who sacrificed their life for his father. It included some of those who committed suicide upon knowing his father’s death. Jagan quit Congress and formed his own party. Congress used central agencies like CBI and enforcement to tame Jagan. Later, they bifurcated Andhra Pradesh into two states. Congress failed in both Seema Andhra and Telangana in all elections thereafter. Many in these two states still say that it could have been just one state and could have been a Congress stronghold, if YSR was alive.
It is alleged that BJP played dirty politics in Puducherry to topple former Congress government under chief minister V Narayanasamy. As a result, V Narayanasamy resigned three months before the election was due in May 2021. The Congress leadership disowned V Narayanasamy and failed in Puducherry election in 2021. N R Congress chief N Rangaswamy became chief minister, who is a former Congress leader, who quit Congress due to internal politics.

Congress has an issue of elevating leaders who come from outside with little bit of stardom and popularity. It is betrayal for those who were part of Congress from several years. For example; Siddaramaiah was given chief minister’s post in Congress, because he came from Janatha Dal, his caste and he was likely to win Karnataka election in 2013. This strategy won’t work often. His rule in Karnataka was not great and he turned out to be the most arrogant Chief Minister Karnataka has ever seen. His elevation was betrayal for senior Congress leaders in Karnataka like D K Shivakumar, G. Parameshwara and many others. Siddaramaiah was the chief ministerial candidate of Congress in 2018 as well. But the Congress government failed after election. Those who are not comfortable with this strange arrangement are the people who leave Congress.
Recent Punjab election is just another example of failure of Congress. Navjot Singh Sidhu came to Congress from BJP. Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from BJP to follow his ambition of becoming chief minister of Punjab. Later, Sidhu realised that he cannot chase his ambition on his own and joined Congress.

Once Navjot Kaur Sidhu accused BJP of using Sidhus as a ‘decorative piece’. Navjot Singh Sidhu was indeed an ornamental leader with his cricket stardom and was never a serious politician. Even now, he spends considerable amount of time on TV shows like Kapil Sharma show. The show has nothing to do with politics. Sidhu is doing comedy in Indian politics, other than being part of the comedy show. Congress (Gandhis) giving Sidhu an opportunity to run this comedy show in Punjab and Indian politics is one of the reason for their defeat in recent Punjab election.
Captain Amarinder Singh was not happy with the way Navjot Singh Sidhu was inducted in to the Congress, just before Punjab assembly election in 2017. Captain Amarinder Singh played a key role in Congress winning Punjab assembly election in 2017. Sidhu was restless since then and did everything he could to insult India, Captain Amarinder Singh and Congress. Sidhu's Pakistan visit, his comments on South Indian food versus Pakistani food, hugging Pakistani army chief Qamar Ahmed Bajwa was not just an insult to Captain Amarinder Singh and Congress, but for the entire Indians. His second trip to Lahore was despite Punjab chief minister Singh asking him not to do so.

Navjot Singh Sidhu has been openly attacking his own government over its failure to fulfil poll promises. He repeatedly raised the issue of sacrilege and subsequent firing incident of 2015. Congress should have sacked Sidhu. Already expelled from BJP, Sidhu's options were very much limited. Instead the new high command of Congress (Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra) choose to elevate Navjot Singh Sidhu as the state party chief and replaced chief minister captain Amarinder Singh with Charanjit Singh Channi. Later they decided Channi as their chief ministerial candidate in the recent Punjab election. Captain Amarinder Singh left Congress and founded his own party (Punjab Lok Congress) on 2 November 2021. This answers the question of G-23 about high rate of attrition the party faces.

It is in the same manner Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee left Congress. Most of these leaders who left Congress in last three decades have fought their way and are in power in their respective states. Now all of them put together is a bigger front than what Congress across India is.

Opposition is the watch dog of democracy. The elected government will not do well in the absence of a strong opposition. In India, we see BJP with poor governance coming back to power. It is the failure of opposition. To be precise, it is the failure of Congress leadership.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s “My Ladki hu, Lad Saktha Hu” (I am women and I can fight) was a great quote. The fight should have been for the people, for students, for farmers, for workers, for victims of rape and murders in Uttar Pradesh. Instead, it was a fight for her brother Rahul Gandhi and for Congress. Congress failed to educate people on poor governance and various issues in UP. Congress failed to lead the fight against injustice. They were not part of student’s and farmer’s protest. Instead, they compete to make statements, which happens to be the job of media.

India is as bad as it was during UPA I and II in poverty, unemployment, price rise, inflation, hunger and various other indexes used globally to access human development and standard of living.
Now BJP is in power in 18 states, only because there is no opposition. More than 600 farmers died in the farmer’s protest which went for 333 days. The protest was against the three new farm laws. Most of these protesting farmers were from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Four farmers and a journalist were mowed down by the BJP leader’s son and is on bail, while the protesters are being punished. UP had several incidents like Gorakhpur hospital tragedy where 60 children died in August 2017, due to oxygen shortage. Oxygen shortage was a major issue in hospitals in UP during pandemic as well. The Ganges was swollen with dead bodies in April-May 2021, due to pandemic. Yet, people elected Yogi Adityanath, because they felt Yogi is better than Mayavathi and Akhilesh Yadav. Promises made by Congress were not good enough to win the confidence of people in UP.
Bharath Bandh 2022, is a show of strength by the opposition led by Congress through trade unions, after the poll debacle in five states. The joint platform of Central trade unions decided the nationwide strike for 48 hours on 22 March 2022. The strike on 28 and 29 March 2022 was in protest against the “anti-worker, anti-farmers, anti-people, and anti-national policies” of the union government.
There wasn’t any major change in policies than the new labour code, which union government is trying to implement from more than a year. And the new labour law is not ‘anti-worker’. As far as farmers are concerned, the 3 new farm laws were rolled back and the one that exists now is same as what it was during UPA I and II. These trade unions which works more or less like a wholly owned subsidiary of political parties usually do not take part in farmer’s protest. They will say that they are not farmers. But they expect farmers to support their muscle show. And the immediate cause for this 48 hours nationwide strike is unknown. Or, it is a show of strength by opposition, decided after CWC meeting.
These are the reasons for the failure of congress. Their fight is not for the people. Their struggle is for themselves and not for the people. The 48 hours nationwide strike was not successful, other than in few pockets. Chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee didn’t support the strike. The strike didn’t affect cities like Mumbai and Bangalore. People are not interested in political score settling. Communist theory is to be part of people's struggle to make them join the party. But often the struggle they engage in are for themselves and not for the people.

 It is time for all Congress workers and leaders to understand that there should be room for discussions and debates, even if it is against their High command. Decisions should be collective. Gaddaro, party chodo (traitors should leave the party), cannot be the way forward.

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