Home arrow Archives arrow Open Forum arrow Open Forum 2006 arrow Loyalty Replaces Merit: CONGRESS NOW A PARTY OF NOMINATIONS,T.D. Jagadesan, 10 March 2006
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Loyalty Replaces Merit: CONGRESS NOW A PARTY OF NOMINATIONS,T.D. Jagadesan, 10 March 2006 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 10 March 2006

Loyalty Replaces Merit


By T.D. Jagadesan

 The present day Congress bears little resemblance to the party that led the movement for independence.  It also bears little resemblance to the party under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, where there was some debate, and discussion, and above all dissent.  Of course, dissent was frowned upon, but the leadership listened to and often accommodated in policy decisions.

Unfortunately, dissent and debate have long ceased to be a hallmark of the party, with the result that actions have the sanction of a chosen few, and policy often is ill-concerned. The factionalism is so dominant within the party to hold a true election, lest the hollowness of the organization is exposed.

So the members of the Congress Working Committee are nominated by the party President, and the choice necessarily falls not on those who have mind of their own, but on those who have proved their abject loyalty and do not have a popular base to present a challenge to the so called High Command.

Popular Chief Ministers are just above tolerated by the party leadership in New Delhi, and comfort levels are restored only if they are brought to Delhi as relatively tame general secretaries, or have bowed to the larger will through organized dissent at some point of time.

Merit is not the consideration, only loyalty is.  Here, the genesis of the ills afflicting the Congress. The Prime Minister of India is not elected, but nominated by the Congress  Many of the Congress President who is seen by all, including him, as the real power. Ministers are from the Rajya Sabha, including the all-important Home Minister.

Most of the influenced Congress leaders around the party are from the Rajya Sabha that appears to be fast becoming “qualification” for senior posts. Rajya Sabha MPs are dependent on their posts on the goodwill of the party, and not on the electorate.  Those who have the people behind them are more independent and confident, as the Congress “High Command” has learnt to its chagrin.  So if there is a counter view, it remains unvoiced, with the Congress ministers and leader looking for the smile or the frown from the top to determine their day.

Intense factionalism is the primary reason why the Congress reposed all its faith once again in the Nehru-Gandhi family, looking for the benevolent whip, to keep it united.  In the process, the individual placed at the top with all powers becomes more important than the party, and it can only be an exceptional person who can resist the temptation of using the organization to further his or her own image.

This is a natural corollary of unmitigated sycophancy, and often a disastrous fallout for the party concerned.  Loyalists are in place only so long as they serve the purpose.  Even diehard loyalists are shown their place if they present any threat to the reputation of the “High Command”.  Public image becomes very important, and a shadow is not allowed to fall on the individual even if the party has to pay the price.

So a visit to the bereaved widow of Congress leader, Asham Jafri, who was killed by mobs in Gujarat, is called off, as this could bring the leader under a cloud of unnecessary controversy.  Threats are perceived at every turn of the corner. So Chief Ministers are tamed, lest they override their authority and overshadow the Central leadership. Credit is placed at the door of the leader, while the consequence of every unpopular action is borne by the party or an individual within.

The image of the leader might remain intact, but the party suffers in the long run, Coteries are built around the leader, often wielding power while the rest of the party is marginalized. The process of consultation becomes selective with the larger party being kept out of the decision-making process. The result is stagnation in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The Congress has been unable to formulate a strategy for these states, with Narendra Modi calling the shots in Gujarat as a paralysed Congress looks on, completely helpless and unable to challenge his authority. The courage to mount a strong campaign against him and the BJP is missing, with the State unit completely controlled by the State Government through petty contracts and favours.

The Congress is presently in power in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Haryana and Punjab on its own.  In major States like Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra, it is in a coalition.

Fortunately for it, the BJP too is in a complete mess. It is showing no signs of emerging from this in the immediate future.  The regional parties, however, are gaining in strength and remain closer to the people than the so-called national parties like the Congress and the BJP.   In States where there is a third alternative, these parties are finding it difficult to hold their own, with regional outfits like the Samajwadi Party, the BSP, the AIADMK and Telugu Desam remaining a force to reckon with.

After a fairly long gap, there is sufficient movement to indicate a tentative reaching out between the regional leaders in an effort to form an alternative that brings them directly to power, without the BJP or the Congress.  The tragedy is that political victory is taken as an indication of total support without any effort being put into formulation policies that serve the interests of the poor.

The Congress has not taken the lead in this, despite being given an opportunity by the people, with economic policies, foreign policy, domestic policies showing little signs of change from what was being practised by the BJP-led NDA Government. The minorities in Gujarat have not been rehabilitated and given justice.

Leaders are supposed to attend to the issue with passion and commitment. Leaders are supposed to give direction to their political parties, governments and the nation and set out an agenda to strengthen the people.  Leaders are there to serve, not be served, to take bold and courageous decisions, to spend their days and nights with the people in the villages and in the conference halls of the metropolis.

To be a leader is not a lark, based just on sacrifices made by other members of the family.  Leadership requires noble qualities, a sense of purpose, courage, compassion and total dedication. Either you have it or you don’t---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)















< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT