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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Congress paralysed in face of Hazare-tsunami

The Congress seems to be in a flight mode, facing the danger of Anna Hazare’s movement. Many of the partymen want to skirt the issue when confronted by the media and the future scenario is simmering beneath a brittle surface.

A senior office-bearer excused himself from speaking on the Hazare-created political tsunami saying he was busy with the Rajiv Gandhi birth anniversary celebrations and that it would take a long time to explain the Congress view on the man who has shaken the foundations of the UPA government.

The only thing the Congressmen can bring themselves to say with conviction is that the Hazare movement is now being supported by the RSS, and it is meant to destabilise the government. This gives solace to the party that it is losing out to fascist forces and it is satisfied that it is attaining secular and socialist martyrdom.

Another office-bearer said: “Kapil Sibal should have consulted the party high command to know the pulse of the people.” It is clear the partymen are not happy with the manner that government’s pointsman had dealt with the Hazare episode. He also said, “We respect Chidambaram....” There are reservations with the way the home minister is handling the crisis.

There is also a sense of gloom in the absence of party president Sonia Gandhi. A Congressman said: “Yes. Her absence is causing problems.”

There is no one in the party who can call the government into question when it is committing blunders. There is no one to rally the party to put up a good fight against the detractors. And there is no one with the authority of Sonia to make that innovative and bold gesture to reach out to the opponent.

There are many in the government - prime minister Manmohan Singh, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram, defence minister AK Antony —who can take a decision in an emergency. There are none in the party who can hold the fort in Sonia’s absence. The party is literally rudderless.

Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi, the apparent heir-apparent, is both reluctant to shoulder the responsibility — he is deeply aware that he is not yet ready for the job — and the party is also not sure whether they should expose him to the dangerous uncertainties of the volatile political situation.

There is feverish speculation in party circles and whispers in the corridors of power about the likely developments in the party.

While one scenario suggests that Rahul Gandhi will be pushed into taking over as working president of the party because of the vacuum created by the absence of Sonia Gandhi, there are reservations about the young Gandhi’s ability to manage the situation.


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