Voicing opinion or writing advisory letters has never been fruitful in Indian politics. Advise is dissent. The trend was set vey early on by Congress and is meticulously followed by both the Right and the Left even though these parties don’t tire pronouncing themselves slaves of democracy when compared to the dynasts. The difference is Congress does it with infinite finesse and practised craftsmanship while the others just call it indiscipline when dumping the “advisors and letter writers”.
The game has been played out again as the Group of 23 is being weeded out, sacked and replaced. The leopards in the service of Congress president have not changed their spots. Most of them have had their run in active politics, are in the geriatric ward of un-electability and live on in acquired camp followings within the AICC . The periodic exercise of self immolation is a ritual in Congress and even though it never seems to emerge stronger from it, some unpopular, un-electable leaders always gain. Take a look at the new formation from those who will advise—all six members have not won an election in last ten years, some in 20. They will now advise the Congress President on how to win the 2024 elections.
The newcomers in the CWC are again those who can’t win any more or were forgotten and dumped in the last round: Tariq Anwar, P. Chidambaram, Digvijay Singh, Jitendra Singh, Surjewala, KC Venugopal. Those who have been dumped from outside the letter writing expert group include Kharge, Vora and Faleiro who can barely recall the day of the week now so were on their way out anyways.
The omissions—Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Prithviraj Chavan, Shashi Tharoor and Hudda are less surprising than those who have been retained from the G-23. Jitin Prasad, Manesh Tiwari and Mukul Wasnik have been given a new lease. It has raised suspicions that they were actually moles put in the group to extract information about who has been playing hockey with the BJP. Tewari in fact went to Azad’s house immediately after the urgent CWC video session. It is typical of the top Congress henchmen to periodically use this ruse to cleanse the party inner circles. If you take a look at the coterie around Sonia and can identify faces which have not changed in three decades then they are the ones who run the show. Rest like Natwar, Azad, Moily and several Shuklas and Singhs will come and go but they go on forever.
The Wire asked a few letter writers about the futility of their exercise. They remained silent or had bland answers like they are shooting the messenger. After all, all of them have had good careers in the party and they have always known how it runs so what was the point?
Each one said emphatically that they have no truck with BJP and they actually don’t even fit in that party’s scheme of things. “To acquire the status I have here will take years in the BJP. Look at Natarajan and Rane or even Vadakkan. They are outcasts there. They may have had their reasons, I don’t even have that handicap so why would I truck with the BJP,” says a younger leader from the lot. He is on the other hand surprised that Sachin Pilot finds no place anywhere.
A leading lawyer who has been behind several Gandhi family cases says: “People may have signed for their own reasons but the only reason I signed was because I have a stake in this party. I am a third generation Congressman and my family has served the party for more than 75 years. I want the party to improve and get back on its feet. It’s a warning bell if nobody wants to heed it, what can be done.”
On the face of it, the family has closed ranks. It has decided to go with entirely untested and new faces in difficult terrains like Jitin Prasad in Bengal and Vivek Bansal in Haryana while retaining failures like PL Punia in Chhattisgarh and RPN Singh in Jharkhand. Tariq Anwar has been handed Kerala which assumes significance as Rahul Gandhi is now an MP from there. Over all its a mixed bag for the old guard and some Rahul acolytes. The main theme of the letter writers was of course that Sonia and Rahul dont have time for the party. With the advisory council now in place that will be more difficult than ever before.