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Option before Congress: Get rid of family control to halt BJP's 'authoritarian' trap

By NS Venkataraman*
As time passes by, the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to increasingly have feet firmly on the ground. Under the leadership of Modi, seen as charismatic and honest by large sections, the country’s opposition leaders seem pygmies. In the process, the BJP government is becoming very powerful, though some people call it authoritarian, too.
Not without reason, strains may be seen to be appearing in the democratic structure of India. Indeed, if there is no credible opposition party to critically assess the programmes of the ruling party, democracy may become weak. Unfortunately, the Congress, the only significant national party in India, apart from BJP, is becoming listless and weak, and is rapidly losing credibility, especially after Rahul Gandhi took over as the president of the party.
There is little doubt that Rahul was selected as party president mainly because he belongs to the Nehru-Gandhi family and not due to any particular merit. With his sister also now entering the political arena as the general secretary of the party and the mother overseeing the son and daughter as interim president of the party, the picture of the Congress as essentially a family-controlled outfit looks complete and obvious.
Recently, BJP alleged that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul visited China, when the Congress signed some sort of agreement with the Communist Party of China and Rajiv Gandhi Foundation received funds from China. If true, under the current atmosphere, this would further go in demolishing the image of the Congress as a reliable and dependable opposition.  
However, as the only national party now in India, it is would seem necessary for the Congress to resurrect itself. But can this happen if Sonia and her family continue to control the party, with the image of the party lying shattered? 
With the mother overseeing the son and daughter as interim president of the party, the picture of the Congress as essentially a family-controlled outfit looks complete
Surely, Sonia and her family would not give up the control over the party under any circumstances and would hold the finances of the party firmly under their grip. The family would encourage and give prominence only to those persons in the Congress who firmly commit their loyalty to the family.
With the prospects of the Congress under the control of the Sonia family now very dim, the only option that looks plausible is that people with good image and courage of conviction in the party should demand a leadership change in the party. Most likely, it would not happen easily, and such demand would be shouted down by the loyalists of Sonia’s family.
In such circumstances, one wonders whether it is possible for the Congress to split and get rid of the family control. The issue is: Would some people in the party take the initiative for this? Certainly, they would not have an easy time, but gradually would receive support from large cross sections of countrymen and those who believe that the country needs a strong opposition so that BJP does not turn authoritarian.
In any case, under the control of Sonia’s family, those in the Congress should know, the party cannot get majority in Parliamentary elections at any time in future. Given this framework, why shouldn’t some people in the Congress take a chance and split the party so that it would be resurrected and come clean in order to help ensure vibrant parliamentary democracy in India?
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*Trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived, Chennai

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