The letter that may continue to haunt Congress

It was clearly one of the only two Members of Parliament from West Bengal who became the greatest champion of espousing the cause of the great mother and her greater son in whose hands only Congress could be ‘safe’. ‘None other than a member of the family has ever made any significant achievement’ for the Congress – such is the rich knowledge of the history of his party that he simply refused to acknowledge the contribution of the greatest of the leaders of their time, including Mahatma Gandhi, who presided over the grand old party. Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, the leader of the Lok Sabha of Congress made outstanding efforts undoing the effect of the famous letter signed by twenty plus first benchers and said to have the support of over three hundred plus leaders across the country demanding a through over-haul of the party from forming an independent body for holding internal elections to reviving all internal committees to holding elections right from the Block, district, state levels to having a ‘full time, visible and active’ all India leadership. Choudhury’s letter was later copied pasted at many levels echoing the Sonia-Rahul chorus across country and he did prove himself too successfully as a true interest keeper of the family. In 1998 there had been another leader from West Bengal who drafted the crude resolution kicking out in a most humiliating way the then elected party president and replacing him with Sonia Gandhi when she first consented to head the party. Yes, it was Pranav Mukherjee then who did lead the ‘leaders for change’ at the time drafting the resolution of not only crowning Sonia with party president ship but also effecting a suitable constitutional change in the party constitution making her the chairman of parliamentary board even though she was not a Member of Parliament then.

So at the end of the day out of the three stormy letters of the Congress the last one by Chowdhury which prevailed over the party and became the very basis of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) resolution after the seven hour ‘extensively deliberated’ meeting was the ultimate victor. The CWC, though, ‘took note’ of the other two letters too. The ‘multiple crises’ that the country face were deliberated upon. The CWC lauded the only ‘two voices at the forefront’ in the country which ‘have inspired generation of Indians’ – being the voices of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. The CWC unanimously requested Sonia to lead the party till the time a new regular president is in place and authorized her ‘to effect necessary organizational changes that are appropriate’ as if these powers were not available to the president otherwise. This took care of the letter of Sonia intending to vacate her position of interim president.

So far the all famous letter igniting so many tweets, retweets, deletes and withdrawals ultimately necessitating the CWC meet, the CWC made it ‘clear’ that ‘none will be and can be permitted to undermine or weaken the party and the leadership at the juncture’ and that the ‘issues cannot be deliberated through media’. The CWC is said to have decided to form a committee to look into and redress the issues raised in the letter though it did not find place in the resolution.

So is that the end of the episode? May be yes, for three reasons – One, the signatories were largely the leaders with no mass base barring one or two of them. They have all lost their support base and are the spent forces. To quote Chowdhury they had largely been rehabilitated by Sonia herself and without her they are virtually nothing left to themselves. Rank and file do not bother about Sibbals, Sharmas and Aazads anymore. Two, the letter reinforced and revitalized the strength of the family and reminded it of the alertness needed of it and also made it known that its glory and aura, by and large remains intact and have not eroded that much. If mother-son duo work in unison the party is still solidly behind them, and three, the letter also reminded the family that if it does not activate itself it too is liable to be revolted against. The signatories have all been seen to be traditionally loyal to the family and if they are getting upset and frustrated there are reasons for the family to be worried about. The future may see the family more inclined firming up its grip further over the party.

But it may be the big No too – it may be a temporary cover up and the crisis may still be simmering further. For, one, that the first benchers of the party who mattered the most for years together chose to write a detailed letter demanding revival of the party on all fronts must be pondering for long over the content, substance and the possible effect of the letter before dispatching it. This is after so many years that Congress leaders decided to put the concerns on record knowing too well the apparent fate of it. Two, the writers of the letter chose to leak it and let the people know their concerns also is important. They appeared prepared for the fall out. The points raised have been in public domain by too many well-wishers of the party. At times few of the leaders too have voiced them at different forums and are not new. There is all probability that the concerns would continue to be hammered till something substantial is done for them. Three, the writers have not withdrawn the letter and have not expressed regrets over this. The allegation that the letter is at the behest of BJP, though denied afterwards, has offended the writers further and post CWC meet too they appear slated to pursue the points.

Four, that though the CWC meet is prompted by the letter and it said in the resolution that it noted the letter but neither the letter was made available to the members nor the contents were analyzed and discussed, and five, leaving the things as they are and going ahead will just not be possible. Having raised the points so seriously and still seemingly owning them committedly the leadership would have to act upon them which would be too difficult for them given the fact the party has gone too far of those points.

Crudely speaking, there are two contradictory facts – on the one hand the party has become a private limited company of the family and the family and the leaders inclined with the interests would not let the party slip out of their hand notwithstanding the slogan that the family no longer wished to be at the helm. There is, in fact, something simmering in the family and it is not unison in its approach towards its dealing with the party. The resolution does not mention the name of the daughter anywhere is noteworthy in this context. On the other hand the first benchers who have been the beneficiaries of the party and its govts feel themselves at the margin as with the state of affairs the chances of its coming back in power is diminishing day by day. So what chairs they would be occupying in days to come? They have, for long, been habituated of living in glory of power and unless the party is revived, their opportunities would continue to be too limited. They know too well that with Sonia’s deteriorating health and Rahul’s ever deteriorating public image the revival of the party would rather be impossible. And how many of them could be accommodated in BJP’s power structure even if they decide to join it. Therefore, they might have seriously concluded in favor of the family’s ouster from the scene.


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