Grow up Congress, grow up! Playing it safe: Congress fails to project a new look

Indian Congress party supporters hold a Congress party flag as they celebrate in Ahmedabad on December 11, 2018. - India's ruling party looked set to lose power in at least one of three traditional stronghold states releasing election results on December 11, in a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of national polls in 2019. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)


Times of India Editorial

 December 15, 2018


Cover photo: Indian Congress party supporters hold a party flag as they celebrate in Ahmedabad on December 11, 2018. (Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)


Note: Compared to the beginning days of his politics, Rahul Gandhi,  has grown up a lot in the gift of the gab and courage to face an adversary.  But what about decision- making, which alone marks out a political leader?

“Old guards or young turks?” is the shouting match  filling the air  in all social groups – racial, religious or political. Ever since Rahul started his leadership role in selecting the CMs in two key-states in the Hindi belt —  Madhya Pradesh and Rajastan – things look very discouraging.


Still a Mummy’s Boy?

He does a lot of democratic, public consultations, ending always with consulting his mummy and sister, proving his final dependence on the family, still unable to stop being a ‘Mummy’s boy’, a dynastic spirit ruling him. How long will he continue to be remote controlled by elders? Youngsters  like Scindia and Pilot  have at least proved their mette by arguing their case. Still they were left by the way side by the elders.

When it came to Sabarimala, Rahul made bold to say he stood with Gender equality but allowed his partymen in Kerala supporting faith and tradition in Kerala where old generation leaders like Oomman Chandy and Chennithala would  never step aside for a younger leader. This ill forbodes for the Congress party specially in Kerala.


Same craze in  Religions

The craze to enthrone old guards is more pronounced among religious groups, Christians, Hindus or Muslims. Think of the array of bishops and cardinals in their Sanyasa years from whom all their “get-up-and-go got-up-and-went” compared to JESUS  who launched out at the age of 30, whose age group Churches would never dare to trust with leadership roles.

“Don’t speak out, don’t shake the boat, don’t take risky decisions and sleep calmly unlike their “dare-devil leader sleeping quietly,”even when the boat was buffeted by winds and waves, is the prevailing thinking in Churches. Result? Twenty old cases of Episcopal concubinage skeletons (Kadappa), beyond repair are tumbling out of their cupboards now. They can neither swallow or spit them out to save faces.


Who will cleanse the temple?

Are they waiting for Jesus  to revisit India in the person of Pappa Francis for a “Temple cleansing” as he did in Chile? On their own they will never do it as it would mean condemning themselves to crucifixion. None of them will have the courage to say: ‘If I am (Jesus the Nazarene) you are looking for, take me and leave these faithful friends of  mine to go free.’(Jn. Chapter 16)

Similar or more difficult would be the challenge for our corrupt politicians to give up their positions of power and perks to step aside and make room for more honest service-minded and talented persons to lead. But this is what elections in politics is all about, to find the most service-minded persons to lead the nation. To achieve this goal the public must vote for honest leaders with courage of their conviction and parties should practise strict internal democracy in choosing their leaders. james kottoor, editor ccv.


Please read below the ToI editorial


After sweeping the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in recent assembly polls, Congress has had to grapple with selecting its chief ministers for the three states. That there were two clear aspirants in both Rajasthan and MP – Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot in the former state and Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath in the latter – made the issue tricky.

Pilot and Scindia are seen to be part of a new generation of Congress leaders exemplified by Rahul Gandhi himself. However, Gehlot and Nath are old Congress war horses with considerable heft within the party machinery. After marathon internal deliberations that ran over two days, Rahul finally went with Gehlot and Nath as CMs. True, Pilot has been given the deputy CM’s post in Rajasthan. But that’s a messy choice which could create a duopoly in the state and set up hurdles to governance, while advertising Congress’s factionalism.


Congress and Rahul are missing a trick here. India is a young country with 50% of its population below the age of 28. Youth would have identified with younger leaders like Pilot and Scindia as CMs. Second, a major plank of the Congress campaign in these elections was the lack of jobs under the BJP dispensation. Again, this is an issue that directly affects the youth who bought into Congress’s messaging. At a moment when BJP has positioned itself as championing social conservatism, opportunity beckons for Congress to prise away the burgeoning youth electorate. Congress needs to project itself as a young, revived party, much like the British Labour Party reinvented itself as New Labour under Tony Blair in the 1990s. Alas, Gehlot’s and Nath’s elevation suggests that Congress is still cautious and unwilling to reinvent itself or sport a fresh look in the run-up to 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

(This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.)

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