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A Management Failure

Congress proved unable to carry Kamal Nath and Scindia together

The Congress is going to lose power in one more state despite being the single largest party or having a majority as a coalition. Manipur, Meghalaya, Goa, Karnataka, and now Madhya Pradesh: the Modi-Shah BJP looks hell-bent on capturing power in states by engineering a split in the Congress legislature party if they fail to win elections. However, it is not right to blame only the BJP. Even if we were to believe the Congress charge that the BJP ‘bought’ their MLAs, we have to ask of the Congress: Can you go out to the market and buy anything unless the person owning it is ready to sell it? There can be no denial that most of the times MLAs are purchased at a very high price: they are paid a big amount in black money and also given an office. Yet that does not answer the question: why would MLAs sell their loyalty at low or high price unless they were willing to sell it in the first place?

Those who have seen the movie ‘Indecent Proposal’ (Robert Redford, Demi Moore) would know how high price can pull down a person’s moral wall. A billionaire businessman offers a married woman one million dollars to spend a night with him. That night lying in bed side by side, the man and wife fight a ding-dong battle with the temptation, and ultimately give in to it. The wife goes to spend a night with the billionaire. To sum up, if the billionaire had offered ten dollars, the woman might have flung her shoe at him; if he had offered a hundred dollars, she might have spat at him; if he had offered a thousand dollars, she might have fired a volley of abuses at him; if he had offered a hundred thousand dollars, she might have glowered at him and said, ‘I am not that kind of a woman.’ But when he offered a million dollars, she caved in. So it is true of Congress MLAs who are crossing over to the BJP. They are selling their shame to an incredible price.

Jyotiraditya Scindia sold his shame for a high price – a Rajya Sabha seat, a place in the Modi cabinet and a bungalow in elite New Delhi as a perquisite. Scindia’s plea that “I was unable to serve my state and my country being in the Congress” was a rhetorical camouflage for his personal greed. He should have said, “I was unable to serve myself being in the Congress.” For, that is the true case. He was estranged from the Congress for the past one year for a series of reasons: he competed for chief minister’s office and lost to Kamal Nath; he competed for Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee president’s office and lost; he wanted to be sent to Rajya Sabha on Congress ticket and was denied the chance.

However, that does not complete the story of Jyotiraditya Scindia’s political immigration. If the first element was Scindia’s lust for power, and the second element was the BJP’s willingness to pay any price for his ideological dignity, there was the third element, and that was the Congress top leadership’s indifference to the accumulation of insults meted out to him by the combination of Chief Minister Kamal Nath and veteran Digvijay Singh. And this third element will continue to dog the Congress top leadership long after the departure of Scindia. The Congress is a party at sea. During the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections 2019 Rahul Gandhi had, despite many flaws in his political persona, emerged as a Congress leader of influence and consequence. He lacks charisma; he lacks consistency; he lacks continuous presence; yet he looked like the Congress’ best of the poor bets. But then he resigned and disappeared. Sonia Gandhi’s stop-gap return has meant return of her trusted backroom monitors like Ahmed Patel who live in the past and take faction fights in the party in the states as a part of the overall historical nature of the Congress, something they do not have to worry about. The party has to wake up. It is disintegrating. Factions are migrating to other political entities. The party has to stop it. Else, it goes into the dustbin
of history.

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