Gathering storm: On the Congress crisis

No outside talent can help the Congress unless it nurtures its roots and respects its workers

Mr. Gandhi’s impatience with the party old guard is understandable and even justified to a great extent. What he lacks is a coherent strategy and transparent plan to revamp the party. He owned up to the party’s debacle in the 2019 general election and resigned as party president, but continued to retain ultimate authority. He appoints and removes office bearers and Chief Ministers, while posturing that he is above the fray. This is untenable as his authority without accountability is far too evident. If he wants to be the leader of the Congress, it cannot be in the informal and whimsical manner as it is now. It needs to be formal and consultative, for which he needs to return as the party president. Reviving the Congress will require the leadership’s constant engagement with workers, and the management of the egos and ambitions of individual leaders. The Congress cannot be revived by stealth and subterfuge, or by recruiting boastful charlatans. The burden of revitalising it cannot be shifted to the shoulders of random, untested new recruits, as Punjab shows. Mr. Gandhi is taken in by the self-defeatist notion that the Congress as it exists cannot be revved up until there is a purge and parallel induction of outside talent. No knight in shining armour can help the Congress unless it nurtures its roots and respects its workers. The disastrous Punjab experiment underscores that elementary fact.

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