Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 9
The exit of 47-year-old former Union Minister Jitin Prasada from the Congress on Wednesday signals the start of a season of defections in the party, which is reeling under serial electoral setbacks and mounting internal troubles.
Like Prasada, who said today that he was finding it difficult to serve the people through the Congress, several other party leaders are standing on the outbound door, ready to make an exit.
Prominent potential leaders, who are already being expected to follow Jitin, are former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minster Sachin Pilot, former MP Milind Deora and perhaps some other members of the ‘G-23′ grouping which asked Congress President Sonia Gandhi to make changes relevant to the aspirations of the cadres and also to hold elections for the post of party president and down to the booth level.
The G-23 letter was sent in October last. No forward movement has happened since, except that the Congress high command stands further weakened after the May 2 losses of the party which was reduced to a naught in West Bengal, failed to dislodge the incumbents BJP and the Left in Assam and Kerala, respectively, and frittered Puducherry away. The Congress only made it in Tamil Nadu as a marginal alliance partner to the DMK which looking back could have won on its own too.
A shrinking electoral fortune coupled with inability of the Central leadership to assert changes and sustain them is compounding the party’s woes, with several young leaders unable to see a future here.
Internal wounds have been allowed to fester for too long, as in Rajasthan where Pilot and his loyalists continue to languish on the margins under Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot despite the AICC forming a panel to address concerned of leaders, as a negotiation for Pilot to stay in the Congress and await a rehabilitation.
Deora has long been speculated to be veering towards the BJP unable to find a future in the Congress.
First @JM_Scindia now @JitinPrasada – huge blows for @incindia as we lose leaders who gave & still had much to give to the Party. Agreed, they shouldn’t have abandoned INC esp during troubled waters. But Congress needs to identify & empower mass leaders to win back states.
— Kuldeep Bishnoi (@bishnoikuldeep) June 9, 2021
Even in Punjab, sitting Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is under attack from his own party men, with the Congress recently allowing disgruntled elements to voice grievances before a panel — a move publicly seen as weakening the Chief Minister in an election year.
Likewise, in Karnataka former Chief Minister Siddharamaiah and current party chief DK Shivakumar are at loggerheads, with both vying for a leadership role ahead of polls.
Sources also say the Congress political strategy and narrative are becoming matters of concern, with several leaders publicly voicing concerns when the party allied with the radical ISF in West Bengal and similar forces in Assam and Kerala.
Congress veteran Anand Sharma then publicly questioned the party for compromising its secular credentials.
Several leaders feel that there’s lack of adequate dialogue and discussion on the wider communication strategy the party should adopt on major issues, including Covid management, vaccines and other major issues.
Lack of a clear chain of command also remains a problem with Rahul Gandhi continuing to make key appointments, even as his mother performs the role of party president.
A section of leaders do not rule out exits from G-23 and says “patience is running thin”.
Meanwhile, Congress organisational changes and internal elections stand postponed until Covid situation resolved, with timelines unclear and hazy.