Gandhis on vacation, party in decadence: Barkha Dutt
Prashant Kishor is a rare political being. While most people talk to reporters in confidence about how they really feel about their competitors or potential allies, “PK” is unique for everything it reveals on record. For example, long before his 600 “slides for change” plan was leaked, he told me in a recent interview how Congress could learn from the BJP’s model of separating who leads the party from who is the candidate for the post of Prime Minister. “Even a stand employee can become [party] president, that is the message when someone like JP Nadda leads the BJP,” Kishor said.
He was also pragmatic about what made Narendra Modi win again and again – a combination of personality cult, nationalism, Hindutva and welfarism.
The failure of Congress to induct Kishor – and worse, to admit that they were the ones who were voted out – is not a matter of whether or not you are convinced of the political value of PK. It doesn’t matter if you’re a KP fan or a skeptic, these debates will continue well into 2024. What’s indisputable is the belated, flippant, and unserious manner in which Congress has responded for a party at grave risk of to be annihilated. away from the electoral landscape of the country.
Congress supporters can hardly argue that they did not see the merit or value of Prashant Kishor. Because otherwise, why would their leaders spend weeks urging him to become a member of Congress. Given this, what could possibly justify their “committee” approach to change?
It’s the equivalent of looking for a locksmith when the opponent is about to break down your door.
And, if politics is war, Congress is betrayed by its generals. The announcement of Kishor’s refusal to join the Congress should be considered alongside another fact: the two Gandhi siblings are out of India on personal vacation. Nothing reflects the denial or entitlement of family leaders more than the stays at the most critical time and in the face of the 24/7 politics of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. As someone from the PK camp joked, “It gives a glimpse of what would have happened if he had joined the party. He would have been the scapegoat for chess while the brother and sister were on vacation.
From Prashant Kishor’s perspective, the “thank you, but no thank you” stemmed from the assessment that he would not have a free hand to make big changes. The establishment of several committees reflected what Kishor described as “incremental change and low-hanging fruits”. Those in the know confirm that the party remained opposed to structural changes and that the leadership continued to be loath to nip infighting in the bud. The results of these infighting were there for all to see in the unraveling party campaign in Punjab and the ensuing decimation.
Prashant Kishor is right. More than him, the party must recover from living in the past. He needs to get rid of his delusional belief that one day the voter will tire of Modi and fall back on the government’s default party, Congress. And, he has to accept that the Gandhi family is the problem; not the solution.
Congress leaders have repeatedly described Sonia Gandhi and her children as the glue that holds the party together.
If so, that’s the glue that keeps them stuck in the past with no future to speak of.