Everything Wrong With Congress’s Rajya Sabha Slate

The problem with the Congress party is that it is afraid to take risks. He forgot that crises can only be overcome by bold and unconventional decisions. But apparently the Congress Party led by the Nehru-Gandhi family is so insecure that it cannot see past the loyalists.

The Rajya Sabha lists announced by the Congress send a very depressing signal to the cadre who, in this period of unprecedented crisis, is always at the side of the party. Except for a few, the list is full of Darbaris who owe their political existence to a member of the Nehru clan, who could easily be dubbed rootless wonders and who could, quite possibly, be the reason for the downfall of Congress.

After the Udaipur Chintan Shivir, the Congress was expected to be a different party, with the leadership looking beyond the loyalists and injecting fresh blood. But it seems that no lesson has been learned and things are back to square one.

Of the 10 party names for Rajya Sabha, seven were nominated by states to which they do not belong. Rajiv Shukla and Ranjeet Ranjan are appointed from Chhattisgarh; Randeep Surjewala from Haryana was surprisingly nominated from Rajasthan; and Ajay Maken from Delhi received the ticket from Haryana, Surjewala’s home state. This means that Surjewala is not welcome in his own state. Moreover, it is obvious that neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi can dictate anything to Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who does not like Surjewala at all. It shows how weak Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have become.

The case of Rajasthan is even more curious. The three candidates – Randeep Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik and Pramod Tewari – are “outsiders”. Wasnik is from Maharashtra and Pramod Tewari is from UP. As expected, there are whispers in the state unit.

Surjewala is a close confidant of Rahul Gandhi. Pramod Tewari was apparently exonerated by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Wasnik, it seems, was rewarded for defecting from the G-23 to Sonia Gandhi’s camp. What is completely forgotten is that in Rajasthan (elections next year), Congress is sitting on a political volcano that could erupt at any time. The rebels led by Sachin Pilot are upset with the leadership as their demand to replace Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and install their leader has not been met. The election of Rajya Sabha was a good opportunity to accommodate the rebels. It is important to do this – something the BJP has understood. Modi and Amit Shah, who had tried to sideline Vasundhara Raje Scindia, realized that without her the BJP cannot defeat the Congress. So they made efforts to appease him.

Imran Pratapgarhi is another curious case. He is a known and popular poet with part of the Muslim community and belongs to the UP. He contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Of course he lost a lot but now he has been hosted from Maharashtra. Party spokespersons like Pawan Khera and Nagma publicly expressed their anger on Twitter. Pawan Khera is one of the best spokespersons in Congress and he is very aggressive when he opposes BJP leaders in televised debates. Had he been rewarded with an appointment to the Rajya Sabha, that would have sent a positive message. It would certainly have boosted the confidence of spokespersons like him because nowadays it is not easy to defend the party when the whole TV ecosystem is brazenly hostile to it. I don’t know what influence Imran Pratapgarhi wields in the Muslim community, but people like Khera must feel demoralized.

During the Udaipur meeting, the Congress had decided to reserve 50% of the seats in the organization for SC/ST/OBC/minorities. It was seen as a good move as the Congress, which once ruled the country with a strong vote bank of Brahmins, Dalits and minorities, now finds itself with just 19% of the vote. If Congress dreams of ever bouncing back into national politics, it must not only rediscover its old social base, but it must also seek a new one. The BJP, led by Modi, discovered in 2014 that to win elections at the national level, it had to uncover new social forces in the UP.

Amit Shah did some social engineering and a new OBC-Dalit model was sewn. The results have been spectacular. The BJP has since consciously worked with non-Yadav and non-Jatav communities; their leaders step out of line.

In UP, the BJP leadership trusted Baby Rani Maurya and Keshav Prasad Maurya. Now they are among the party’s frontline leaders in the state. The BJP has also been cautious with its Rajya Sabha picks. He named Baburam Nishad, Sangeeta Yadav, Mithilesh Kumar (Dalit) and K Laxman (OBC) from UP, Shambhu Sharan Patel (OBC) from Bihar and Kavita Patidar (OBC) and Sumitra Valmiki (Dalit) from Madhya Pradesh.

If the BJP can ditch leaders like Prakash Javadekar, OP Mathur, Dushyant Gautam, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Shiv Pratap Shukla, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Syed Zafar Islam, Congress could have done the same. It can be said that Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma were dumped, but they paid the price for their rebellion against the Gandhis.

It was a golden opportunity for Congress. Alas, it failed again. This shows that the party not only lacks new ideas, but also the courage to think outside the box. Sad.

(Ashutosh is the author of “Hindu Rashtra” and editor of satyahindi.com.)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

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