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Humiliation of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot? Sonia family 'wins', Congress loses

By NS Venkataraman*

All those who understand the need for healthy and progressive democracy in India want a strong opposition party at national level that can question the Modi government if and when necessary, with dignity, facts, figures and logic.
Today, apart from the BJP, the Congress is the only national party in India, with all the other parties essentially being regional outfits. CPI and CPI(M) are fast losing their foothold and do not look like regaining the earlier stance as an effective voice at the national level.
Under such circumstances, the only party that can play its role as a credible opposition at the national level is the Congress. Unfortunately, however, given its present structure and style of functioning, it has become a family party for all practical purposes.
A family-oriented party cannot be a national party in true sense and would not command the confidence of large cross sections of people. If the Congress wants to turn into a credible opposition and effectively challenge the BJP in the next parliamentary elections, it has to shed its image as a party representing the interests of one family.
This can happen only if Sonia Gandhi and her daughter and son leave space for more capable and knowledgeable persons to emerge as leading lights in the party.
The recent exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia and the near-exit of Sachin Pilot point to the fact that the Sonia family would not give up the control of the Congress and allow anyone to challenge the leadership position of Rahul and Priyanka.
People in India who think that the Congress should be reformed and energized have been of the view that the two faces -- Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot -- could have been fit and credible enough to become the top leaders of the party with the capability of guiding it in a progressive way so as to win the confidence of large sections of India’s countrymen.
Both Scindia and Pilot are young, well qualified, knowledgeable and charismatic. There have been expectations from these two persons amongst not only members of the Congress but also general public. Unfortunately, these expectations have been dashed.
Why has this situation arisen?
Everybody knows that Scindia and Pilot have better leadership qualities, sophistication and balanced views -- perhaps more than Rahul and Priyanka. Emergence of these two persons in the party to the top positions would have meant that Rahul and Priyanka would become ordinary members for all practical purposes. This was not to be liking of the Sonia family, which does not want to give up its control of the party. 
Scindia protested against the treatment meted out to him, but no worthwhile efforts were made to retain him. His quitting served the interests of the Sonia family. In the case of Pilot, conditions were created to humiliate him. Efforts were made to tarnish his image to the point where he does not challenge Rahul and Priyanka for the top leadership.
Pilot was insulted and humiliated by being dropped from the position of deputy chief minister of Rajasthan and leader of the Congress in Rajasthan. Ashok Ghelot, chief minister of Rajasthan, wouldn’t have dared what he did to Pilot without the blessings of the Sonia family.
Pilot is now reduced in stature in the Congress. He was left with no other alternative other than “surrendering” to the Sonia family and accept a face-saving formula. As of today, Pilot has lost the battle to seek a top position.
Meanwhile, the Congress has lost the opportunity of getting out of the vice-like grip of the Sonia family and get a charismatic leader that would have rejuvenated the party. Indeed, the Sonia family has won by ensuring that Rahul and Priyanaka remain unchallenged.
---
*Trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived, Chennai

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