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Azad is no Kamaraj & Rahul is no Indira

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Kr Swarn Kishore
Kr Swarn Kishore
The author is a Delhi based advocate working in Supreme Court of India and basically hails from district Ramban of Jammu & Kashmir. He writes mainly on Kashmir & rightist perspectives.

Four men met at Tirupati Temple to discuss the next big move in Indian politics in October 1963. Who were these four men, why did they meet in a temple and what made them think beyond and disturb the inertia. Actually they were four top Congress leaders of their times namely K. Kamaraj, former Chief Minister of Madras and the then President of Indian National Congress, S. Nijalingappa, the then Chief Minister of Mysore and future President of Indian National Congress, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and future President of India and Atulya Ghosh, the then President of Bengal Congress Committee. These four men had met in Tirupati as it was a place where these four southern leaders would have had met without anyone getting a cue of any such planning.

Such a meeting was very ostensible that too when Delhi was ubiquitous with the speculations about the most iffy question of Indian politics after independence i.e. after Nehru, who? It was the time when Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru wasn’t keeping well with his health and wasn’t much active within the party. These four men were important in the party but they were not considered big players individually hence they formed a group called syndicate.

The change of guard in Congress much like late Mughals has never been a sober and smooth affair; be it from Nehru to Indira, Indira to Rajiv or Sita Ram Kesari & PV Narsimha Rao to Sonia Gandhi.

It was Kamaraj only who gradually established Indira as the next big thing after Nehru. Kamaraj ensured that an easy going Lal Bahadur Shastri becomes the Prime Minister of India instead of ambitious Morarji Desai, the senior most Congress Minister in Nehru cabinet. Kamaraj also made sure that Indira finds herself in cabinet of Lal Bahadur Shastri as Foreign Minister. But Indira was much more brutal and ambitious than the syndicate would have ever imagined. She did not even vacate the bungalow of PM Nehru, Teen Murti House, a symbol of authority, to allow the incumbent PM to move in.

The syndicate who initially considered Indira a preposterous girl and called her Goongi Gudia got to know about her ambitions when as Prime Minister, she refused to accept Neelam Sanjiva Reddy as the candidate of Congress for the elections for the post of President of India, she even ensured he loses and he did. She wasn’t only good at keeping reins on the syndicate but kept working on her image as the only leader of masses in India. The cult she became when she was finally ousted from Congress party by the syndicate. She formed her own Congress and even won the elections. In this way syndicate and Kamaraj, both vanished from the spectrum of Indian politics.

After the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the subsequent sympathy wave in the favour of Gandhi family, her son Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister of India by almost sweeping the elections. Congress bagged the highest number of seats ever won by a party since independence till date. Lal Krishna Advani had popularly said about these elections in this biography that “General elections of 1984 were not Lok Sabha elections but Shok Sabha elections.”

Rajiv Gandhi died and PV Narsimha Rao, the first Non-Gandhi-Nehru family member became the first Prime Minister of India from Congress. Some Congress leaders who had approached him with a proposal to make Sonia Gandhi were badly scolded and while asking them to think beyond Gandhis he had angrily said that “whether it was essential that the Congress Party should be treated like a train where the compartments have to be attached to an engine belonging to the Nehru-Gandhi family or were there other alternatives?”

Then came the popular fiasco of locking up of Sita Ram Kesari in bathroom of Congress headquarters and roughing up of Kesari and some of his supporters. Subsequently an immediate amendment was made in the Constitution of Congress party which ensured immediate declaration of Sonia Gandhi as Congress President (within 62 days of joining as a primary member of Congress party).

These all debacles happened when Congress was directly or indirectly sitting on power. And now after 2014, almost everyone who has some basic understanding of Indian politics would surely agree that BJP has emerged as the new pole around which the Indian political spectrum will revolve for some time, to say the least. The revolts within Congress and the perpetual failures of Rahul Gandhi to prove himself as leader of masses has rendered Congress more fragile than it ever was. 

Because of aggressive campaign of BJP wherein Congress is being advertised as a private limited company of Nehru-Gandhi family and the track record of their alliances be it professional or personal; be it Quattrocchi or Robert Vadra makes them unreliable with power. The leadership of Congress is desperate, clueless and has run out of ideas. This party has become reactionary in operation and brain faded in ideology. There is no innovation, the only thing they do as an opposition party is to condemn the party in government. In short they are playing the game, BJP is making them play. There is nothing Congress does for which BJP isn’t ready; in fact it is BJP which still dictates what Congress has to do.

Let me give you an example; Congress had announced that since it is part of their agenda that statehood should be restored to Jammu & Kashmir therefore they will be a part of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration and will contest DDC elections in alliance. Then BJP leaders conducted some press conferences in New Delhi attacking Congress for siting in alliance with Kashmir based political parties and as a reaction to that Congress backed off. It is because of the same aggressive poll management of BJP that parties like Bahujan Samaj Party & Samajwadi Party forged an alliance, so did National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, even RJD, JD(U) & Congress allied, now Shiv Sena & Congress are on the same page.

And when the chips are down for Congress and when every move of Congress reflects trepidation and fear, some leaders of the party asking for some change is very much ostensible. Although the Gandhi family and their darbaris are reluctant to yield to such demands and this whole exercise of G-23 is nothing but an otiose. But if they will change nothing, nothing will change. Few days ago, a meeting of some leaders of Congress again met at Jammu to show their strength. This time the syndicate has become G-23; barring a couple among these 23 leaders, rest have almost no mass appeal and minimal control over organisational structure of Congress. Their attempt might be honest but for a bigger good, this party has to vanish from the political spectrum of India making way for some other political alternative to strengthen the democratic set up. For now the only way they can do any good for the country can be summed up in a Urdu couplet of Sahir Ludhianvi;

“Vo afsana jise anjaam tak laana na ho mumkin,
use ik khubsoorat mod de kar chhodna achha”.

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Kr Swarn Kishore
Kr Swarn Kishore
The author is a Delhi based advocate working in Supreme Court of India and basically hails from district Ramban of Jammu & Kashmir. He writes mainly on Kashmir & rightist perspectives.
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