Stink in the sink

Last week’s AICC meeting in Delhi stood out for all the wrong attitudes and practices that have been the party’s features for long: abject sycophancy, absence of democracy and failure to address the country’s and its own problems in the face. The sky was the limit for the flattery aimed at Sonia Gandhi and her heir apparent, Rahul Gandhi. Leaders tried to outdo one another in heaping the choicest praises on the two. The nation was embarrassed to find leaders of a party, which was once lively with debate and dissent, kowtowing to leaders who only inherited power. The meeting was called to endorse Sonia’s re-election as party president, but the farce couldn’t have been worse. An election without a contest is most undemocratic, and parties are only weakened by it. No elections were held for party positions in states also. The power to elect their own leaders was surrendered to the leader, who made the nominations. The party’s top policy making body — the working committee — was also not elected. The president will nominate its members too.

The decline of the Congress can not be separated from the decline of organisational democracy in the party. It has lost all the power to look critically at itself and refresh itself. A party that refuses to allow freedom of choice within its ranks cannot be representative of the country. Time-servers and flatterers cannot do the party and the country any good. Unfortunately the Congress has not learnt  any lessons from its past experiences. It has only a tenuous hold on power at the Centre. It is not in power in most states and even where it is, it is not in a good shape.

The party’s refusal in Delhi to acknowledge the most talked about issue in the country when the meeting was being held was odd. Its silence on corruption when the scandals relating to the Commonwealth Games, Adarsh housing society allotments and 2G spectrum allocation were uppermost in people’s minds was deafening. It only helped to draw attention to these big scandals in which leaders of the Congress or its associates are the main characters. Concern over problems like communalism, Maoist violence and even Hindu terrorism, expressed by the leaders, would have carried credibility if they had not ignored the stink in their own ranks.

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