Oh, the impudence of it all! 23 senior leaders have dared to call for sweeping changes in the Congress that would have forced the Gandhis to be accountable to their own deemed retainers.

That the Congress Working Committee session was a positively insufferable 7-hour long imposition on their time was plainly visible on Sonia Gandhi’s face. Her indignation was perfectly framed by an unyielding icy glare captured in the pictures of the meeting released by the party. Her son, Rahul Gandhi – the perennially waiting-in-the-wings president – not one to let his face alone do the talking reportedly, spoke in the ‘how-dare-you’ manner of a wronged Lutyens squire, labelling the group of 23 as ‘BJP collaborators’.

The displeasure of the Gandhis is every bit justified. Have the 23 leaders, who are today calling for a re-ordering of the party, forget they are serving at the pleasure of the first family? Not one among the 23 can honestly claim to be where they are in the Congress hierarchy because of the genuine support of the humble party worker. Clearly, they have long forgotten they are members of the Congress Working Committee (the gilded durbar) not because they have been elected but because they have been hand-picked for their unflinching loyalty to the ‘crown’. If anything, by abetting in such an undemocratic system, they have contributed to the universalization of sycophancy that has made it impossible for anyone to hold the mirror up to the first family.

Let it be stated that if today they are rising up in anguish over the deteriorating state of affairs it is only because of enlightened self-interest. It’s an open secret that a majority of the 23 dissenters would have no place in the Congress scion’s scheme of things. At least two of them are aware that their Congress days are all but over.

In fact the Gandhis have shown great magnanimity in the face of an egregious insult to their elite status. They need to be praised and not excoriated – as they have been by some columnists – for indulging the dissidents by issuing an official statement of ‘no-ill will’.

In any other similarly closed set-up the ‘coup plotters’ would have each been dodging a bullet by now. At least that’s what history informs us about the workings of the socialist parties led by the plutocrats of South Asia and North Africa.

There is no getting away from it: Congress is a one-family firm. The Gandhis believe they have earned the right to run their party the way they want to. If what was an energetic space for democratic liberalism is turning into a gormless ideological mass of contradictions, then that’s entirely their lookout. The Gandhis aren’t even shying away from the consequences. Look at the cavalier manner with which they charge into losing electoral battles astride their ‘Bucephalus’ of delusions.

By blocking out the clamour for reform they seem to be politely saying that if they fail to secure supremacy for the Congress then that too is entirely their whim. Their audacity is quite admirable.

If the dissenting Tharoors, Babbars, Tewari’s and Deoras are really overcome by the need to ‘’restore Indian democracy to its former glory’’ – by providing an alternative to whatever ideological imposition they feel is destroying the fabric of Indian polity – then they should read the writing on the wall.

They must quit the Congress before they are left with nothing, not even the smidgen of dignity they can still claim. It will be hard, but at least they will shape a movement in their own image and get to test the appeal of their political convictions.

As the only ‘’Mahatma’’ among the Gandhis would say: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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