Thomas (Special correspondent)
From decline to collapse and eventual wipeout nothing better defines congress’ current status in Indian politics.
Acknowledging the compassionate and approachable outlook set by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi to breathe life into the party.
Rahul swam the sea with Fishermen in Kerala while Priyanka swept the floor at a deceased farmer’s home in UP’s Lakhimpur.Yet,none of these could heal the crack within INC (Indian National Congress), which now seem to have widened with partymen irked by the status quo are leaving one by one.
The latest was the resignation of 300 workers in Maharashtra’s Palghar over a new district chief appointment.
Congress leaders from down south to up north are detached from party workers.With power in their mind and wealth in their heads, the leaders are crushing the spirit of young party workers, leading the party to the much-anticipated annihilation.
No Respect for Partymen – From Down South to Up North :
Don’t get swayed if others say Congress doesn’t have men and women to rebuild the party. It has a spirited pack of supporters who left INC for how they were ill-treated, unlike their peers from other political parties who are treated with respect even by senior leaders.
And it all goes back to the times when AK Antony was the Congress chief minister in the southern state of Kerala. He never was a people’s leader and didn’t hold a decent track record when interacting with his party men.
During his tenure, police stations across the state were ordered to reject complaints from workers and subject them to physical torture if they did not listen.
Some kept quiet, for they loved the party from their hearts. Others left for they were hurt. Years later, A.K Antony introduced his son to refine the party’s digital wing – a wild card entry, as many say.
Former CM Oommen Chandi, too, followed suit. However, party men who held the face of INC’s youth wing high in every nook and cranny of Kerala’s college campuses were not even considered for a post and often ignored.
The situation is no different in neighbouring state Karnataka.When Siddaramaiah was the chief minister, congress workers who visited the CM’s office with grievances and requests were thrashed by the appointed bureaucrats who failed to connect with people.
When MB Patil was the Home Minister, several district presidents were arrested in different cases, and the party turned its face against them upon the order from Patil, forcing many key party supporters to leave Karnataka Congress.
The situation was no different during G Parameshwara’s stint as home minister, where he forced INTUC workers to withdraw petitions concerning the protection of their rights.
The approach has been and is the same across states and it is a reason that led to Amarinder Singh’s resignation as CM of Punjab. Unlike communists or other parties, Congress does not follow the culture of appointing eligible party men to office bearers or staff in the ministers’ office.
Instead, they opt for bureaucrats who don’t understand the ground reality or the need. However, in the course of pleasing those in power, particularly high-profile officers, Congress lost the trust of thousands of supporters.
Little did the Gandhi’s knew that INC is built with blood and sweat of workers and not the leaders.
One Last Chance – Learn from Other Leaders :
Better late than never for the grand old party to learn some leadership lessons from Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), Jayalalitha, Mamata Banerjee and others.
YSR held his partymen closer, paving the way for people first politics in Andhra Pradesh. It was resonated with the people and supporters even through his son YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, helping him gain a historic vote share in the state.
Jayalalitha was known for her love for party workers. No men or women suffered or were ill-treated by the authorities during her time as CM.She held them to her heart,and the title ‘Amma’ meant much to the people of Tamil Nadu.
In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has an idyllic policy. The party is at the workers’ rescue in case of a conflict with the police or administrators. Mamta would go to the extend of protest to protect her people.
And, that’s what Congress needs to learn. Not to disregard parttymen as third-class citizens, but treat them with respect and as equals to the leaders. If INC reaches out to every worker from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, it can regain its members’ lost faith and trust.
May be,the last chance to stop the grand old party from extinction.The workers do not need massive training programs; instead, the leaders should be taught about respecting party workers and paying heed to their woes.