After his mother, Sandeep Dikshit on Friday unleashed a fusillade on the way the Congress is run saying its “elitist” culture produces “arrogance” and it does not have “genuine” leaders.
The former MP from East Delhi and son of Shiela Dikshit cautions the party against becoming a “copy cat” of either BJP on issues relating to secularism or the AAP on economic issues.
“50 per cent of seniors in the Congress is deadwood and 70 percent in NSUI and Youth Congress”, Dikshit said pitching for bringing new people to the embattled party.
“The culture (in Congress) has become elitist and arrogance grows from it. Our cadres are uncomfortable in such a situation,” he told PTI in an interview, days after the Congress whitewash in the Delhi Assembly elections on the back of a string of electoral losses from May last year.
Dikshit’s attack comes a day after Shiela Dikshit attacked Ajay Maken, Congress’ CM face in the Delhi polls, for the party’s drubbing which was rejected by party leaders P C Chacko and Arvinder Lovely, prompting party President Sonia Gandhi to ask the leaders not to squabble in public.
He took no names in his criticism of the affairs in the party but it was an apparent dig at Vice President Rahul Gandhi when Dikshit said democracy does not start or end with holding party elections.
“It starts with democracy of ideas allowing leaders to lead and democracy of action,” he said.
50-year-old Dikshit, a two-term MP, said Congress will have to identify its best leaders and ideas, people’s issues rather than party issues.
“What is very important is to bring new people into Congress. We have almost 50 per cent deadwood in senior Congress and 70 per cent in Youth Congress and NSUI.”
The remarks are significant because holding party polls is a pet project of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who had been instrumental in holding such elections earlier in Youth Congress and NSUI.
Dikshit insists that Congress, which has faced the fifth successive poll debacle in Delhi after the Lok Sabha poll drubbing last May, said it could be back in the reckoning if it gets identified with the issues of the people like Mahatma Gandhi.
“You cannot identify with the poor wearing a Ray ban glass. Congress will have to identify its best leaders and ideas, peoples’ issues rather than party issues. What is very very important is to bring new people into Congress.”
He said the party will have to bring new people. “They do not come through elections but through selection, opening up to new ideas and issues. We are best when we identify with people’s issues.”
At the same time, he said that the party should not resort to “copycat politics” of becoming ‘second rate BJP” on secularism” or “second rate AAP” on economic issues.
“I don’t think we have to worry about Narendra Modi. Our worry is us. He did not find his way, we lost the way. We cannot expect opposition to be weak like the Indian cricket team. Hero is the one who defeats a good team,” the former whip of the Congress in the last Lok Sabha said.
Perhaps the first leader to come out in the open on what ails the party, Dikshit noted that “there is something terribly wrong somewhere the way we are communicating. That is the real defeat”.
He wanted the party to revisit issues like good governance and sops to the people.
Pitching for a left-of-the-centre line, Dikshit said the Congress’ loss in the last Lok Sabha poll was due to the fact that it forgot “disciplining and controlling” Capital (industry).
“We should also strive for disciplining and controlling Capital which Manmohan Singh forgot. I am not saying that he did it deliberately….. Even at the height of socialism, economists were against us, people were not against.”
“The Congress was at its commanding glory during the time of Nehru and Indira Gandhi which saw left of the centre, secular democracy.”
Besides, he insisted that Congress has “got misled” that good governance is the only mantra. “It is not. Good governance and sops are not ….when you have ideas like garibi hathao, equity, inclusiveness”.
Dikshit said in 2014, a Capital-focused policy has “brought us down despite high growth. We had won in 2009 because of schemes like MNREGA and loan waiver”
He said the public has become “very fickle. It is a dangerous sign in any polity. Expectation levels have become huge”
Dikshit felt Rahul Gandhi should have continued with his travels like those in the suburban local in Mumbai. “But if it is one off, people think it is not your line…. Make friends with people, reidentify with them.”
Another concern, he said was that most of the Congress positioning is “right wing.” Citing an instance, he quoted former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s observation that Left Wing Extremism is the biggest challenge facing the nation.
Dikshit, who has been working with voluntary organisations, said the fact is that the growth of Naxalism was because of injustice and not only due to lack of development.
The states where the Left Wing Extremism has grown are the ones which have the most exploitative systems where police and forest officials live like kings. “So it is a cause wrongly identified.”