Chief Ministers all the time come and go. However the actual significance of the resignation of Captain Amarinder Singh lies much less in what it means for Punjab politics, and extra in what it tells us concerning the Congress social gathering of at the moment. With every passing day, it turns into clearer and clearer that this isn’t the Congress that received energy in 2009 and 2014, however one other social gathering fully.
The primary distinction is in the way in which Amarinder Singh was handled. Singh is a Congress veteran who not solely received Punjab for the social gathering however is nationally revered. When complaints began coming in about his management – claims that he was inaccessible to his MLAs, that governance had been outsourced to bureaucrats, that he had executed nothing to combat anti-incumbency and so on. – the social gathering would have, as soon as upon a time, assessed whether or not there was any reality to those claims.
If it discovered that there was some foundation to the costs, Sonia Gandhi would have assigned a senior aide (most likely Ahmed Patel) to speak to the Chief Minister, and to ask him to instantly take corrective steps within the pursuits of the social gathering.
The Congress management didn’t hassle to try this this time as a result of Ahmed Patel is lifeless, no one else is taking part in that position, and anyway, that’s not how the social gathering capabilities now.
The second distinction is the way in which through which dissidence is dealt with. All Chief Ministers have dissidents. Usually these dissidents are highly effective or well-known. Within the outdated days, the dissidents would have been given an opportunity to speak to the Congress President’s prime aides after which been supplied a short assembly with Sonia Gandhi. They might have felt that that they had been heard, and but nothing would have been executed to embarrass the sitting Chief Minister. Within the case of Punjab, the notion grew that the social gathering management was really encouraging and nourishing one explicit dissident: Navjot Singh Sidhu. He bragged about his entry to Priyanka Gandhi (and thru her to Rahul Gandhi) and used his proximity to her to persuade MLAs that he was the chief of the long run and that the Chief Minister was a goner.
By no means earlier than, within the 40 or so years that I’ve watched the Congress, has the central management appeared so overtly prepared to take sides in an inside battle in a Congress-ruled state. That was by no means the Congress’s manner. However, it’s how issues are executed now.
A 3rd distinction: all Congress Presidents must sack Chief Ministers at some stage. There isn’t a different various. However almost all the time, it was once executed face-to-face, or via a trusted, senior aide (like Ahmed Patel). The outgoing Chief Minister can be advised that the social gathering bore him no ill-will and that it could discover him one thing else to do.
Distinction this with Amarinder’s exit. MLAs had been inspired to put in writing letters of grievance about him. Late one evening, a gathering of the legislature social gathering was all of the sudden referred to as for the following day with out the Chief Minister being knowledgeable. Sidhu gleefully tweeted concerning the assembly. The press was advised, via leaks, that this was it for Amarinder.
It has by no means earlier than been the Congress option to sack a Chief Minister although conspiracy and subterfuge. When he realized what was happening, Amarinder referred to as Sonia Gandhi at 10am and stated that he was resigning as a result of he couldn’t bear to be humiliated this manner.
This is a fourth distinction: all excessive instructions have all the time retained the precise to sack Chief Ministers. However once they take away them, they don’t seek for some bogus legitimacy. As an illustration, when Narendra Modi eliminated Vijay Rupani as Chief Minister of Gujarat, he didn’t hassle to present excuses. Nor did Sonia Gandhi when she acted in opposition to Congressmen up to now. However this time, the management looked for determined justifications. If Amarinder was so standard, the Congress apologists requested, how come 78 MLAs attended the assembly of the legislature social gathering? Did this not show that every one MPs needed him sacked? (Truly, it proved no such factor, however that may be a completely different argument.) By no means earlier than has there been such a scramble to win a dodgy legitimacy for a call.
The fifth and essential distinction: why does the Congress management now have to function via stealth and conspiracy? Why does it have to seek for a bogus legitimacy for its choices? The reply could must do with the shortage of legitimacy that envelops the present management. Priyanka Gandhi is Basic Secretary accountable for UP. She has no locus standi on Punjab issues. Rahul Gandhi resigned as Congress President after the Lok Sabha debacle. He has no official legitimacy in any respect. Each siblings are the place there are at the moment due to beginning. In contrast to their mom who led the Congress to 2 electoral victories, neither has any type of electoral file to be happy with.
This can be a main shift for the Congress whose leaders have all the time been obsessive about legitimacy. When Rajiv Gandhi was requested to take workplace in 1991 on the idea of the bulk that the Congress loved via its alliance with Chandrashekhar’s social gathering, he refused and opted to hunt a mandate at a basic election. When doubts had been raised about Sonia Gandhi’s standing as an an MP as a result of she could have occupied an workplace of revenue, the Manmohan Singh authorities ready an ordinance that might have gotten her off the hook. Sonia turned down that straightforward possibility, resigned her seat and opted for a contemporary election. Reputable leaders operate within the clear gentle of day. These whose democratic credentials are suspect operate higher below cowl of darkness.
The variations go on. Right here is quantity six. Sonia Gandhi has all the time preached persistence. When Jyotiraditya Scindia needed to be Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, he was advised to attend as a result of Kamal Nath was a lot older. Sachin Pilot was advised the identical factor about Ashok Gehlot. However no one requested Sidhu to attend. As an alternative, they unfold the phrase that Amarinder (who is barely a bit older than Kamal Nath) was too outdated for the job.
And 7: Sonia Gandhi has all the time believed within the thought of India. She has, fairly accurately, regarded Congressmen who change to the BJP as folks betraying their ideology. The BJP, she has typically stated, stands in opposition to each precept this nation was constructed on. So why is it that Sidhu, who spent his political profession within the BJP earlier than becoming a member of the Congress simply earlier than the final election, all of the sudden turned so worthy of promotion? Does ideology not matter on this avatar of the Congress? And if Amarinder does yield to the BJP’s seductions, will the Congress have any ethical proper to complain?
These are troubling questions. They usually have by no means been satisfactorily answered. None of that is to say that the outdated manner was higher. Or that the brand new manner is essentially unsuitable. That may be a matter of particular person opinion. However what’s indeniable is that this. The outdated manner raised the Congress from the ashes and stored it in energy for ten years. The brand new manner has resulted in two electoral debacles with little hope of redemption.
(Vir Sanghvi is a journalist and TV anchor.)
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