Disaffection among cadre, unresolved grievances, rudderless leadership, etc, have ensured that rival parties have gained political capital by default and by design, engineering defections.
The latest parliamentary appointments of the Congress Party are a symptom of what exactly ails the party: non-democratic centralism, or in plainer words, a high-command culture centred around the members of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Days after 23 prominent Congress leaders wrote to party president Sonia Gandhi urging significant organisational changes in the party—lest the Congress keeps losing elections—many of them were snubbed for the posts. What’s worse, as senior Congress leader and a signatory to the letter, Kapil Sibal, pointed out on Twitter, Jitin Prasada, another signatory and a former Union minister, was targeted by party officials from the district where his Lok Sabha constituency is for dissenting.
Such action will have a chilling action on opinions not aligned with the high-command and lead to political stagnation and decay. And, without doubt, this will have serious electoral consequences. Given how the rug got pulled out from under the party’s feet in Madhya Pradesh, and its government in Rajasthan came dangerously close to falling, shunning feudal attitudes—complete with vassals, of course—is not a choice, but a matter of survival for the party. Disaffection among cadre, unresolved grievances, rudderless leadership, etc, have ensured that rival parties have gained political capital by default and by design, engineering defections. The party leadership—at all levels—needs to wake up to the fact that it must go beyond tolerating criticism; it has to be welcoming and receptive of it if the party is to stay relevant. Else, it will simply fade into electoral, and thereon, political, oblivion.