May 08, 2012

Ruling party trapped into bitter factional war between the ruling elite and organisational bosses

Sonia-Manmohan factions fighting for their existence: polarisationa and repositioning in Indian politics is in offing
 
 
Ruling party trapped into bitter factional war between the ruling elite and organisational bosses : Congress revisiting the 1969 crisis, writes Prof Rakesh Sinha
 
The country's ruling party is heading towards the most severe crisis. The government and the organization have been engaged in cold war since last two years. The party led by Sonia Gnadhi and the government headed by her ex- nominee Manmohan Singh have been using issues and their repective loyalists to show down each other. When I raised this question to one of the party's senior leaders during the commercial break in a panel discussions at NDTV(India) , there was no denial from him and favorably responded to my hypothesis saying as " it is amusing." Is it so?

Manmohan Singh became PM of the country when Sonia Gandhi apprehended mass upsurge had she claimed the chair for herself. Accordingly,she had chosen a man whom she considered a weak and loyal. For Sonia , Singh was a safe bet. She nurtured the hope to groom her son to finally succeed Mr Singh. What she forgot that dynamics of power in its actual practice ever remains unsparing. It suddenly changes the nature of relationship and transforms the character of people who are the main linchpins of the power game. The present equation between 10 Janpath and PMO typically reinforces the old adage 'Kingship knows no kinship'.
The story which was doing the round in and around the corridors of power that the PM was forced to go for heart surgery just before the LS election. The panic was quite understandable as Sonia's importance steadily declined and also taking advantage of this situation Singh created his own coterie in the government, consisting of seasoned leaders like Pranav Mukherjee, Kapil Sibbal, Ambika Soni, Aswani Kumar and few more. Mukherjee , the most efficient, senior and effective leader in the party and government , knew well he had never been considered as credible loyalist of 10 janpath. Pranab also knows Antony has been favorite of 10 Jnapth. Moreover,like many senior Congress leaders, Mr Mukherjee is quite unwilling to serve under the fourth generation of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Therefore his proclivity towards 7, Race Course enhanced the confidence of the PM who has been forced to carry the tag of 'the weakest PM of India ', the accusation which always undermines his self esteem. However, the changed political equation has made this tag almost obsolete.

Where does Singh gain his strength from? In fact the deep inroads corruption has made in the body polity does not at all upset the PM. Instead he uses it to browbeat the party bosses by turning the tide from the government to the organisation. He silenced his opposition within the party ,including 10 Janpath, by showing them their mirror image. In order to stem onslaughts against him , he has cleverly built up his own kitchen cabinet with his able loyalists in different branches of the state such as the government, judiciary, intelligence, bureaucracy, media, corporate world and civil society. This rainbow cabinet of Manmohan Singh is real cabinet which protects him from dynastic forces in the government and party. He is not interested in finishing out corruption but fishing out corruption to perpetuate his rule till the last day of the 15th LS. Of course his personal integrity added additional confidence and created a better perception for him. Up till now there has been no accusation against him or any of his family members or friends. However, the man who blindly followed the western neo-liberal economic model is undoubtedly guilty for pushing the economy against the masses. Nevertheless his honesty and integrity gave him high moral ground in politics.
 
Everyday is a referendum for the PM. A year ago ,when he equated his wife with Sonia Gandhi in his official press conference ,it was taken by the pro dynasty forces as a contempt for their supreme leader. They left no stone unturned to control PMO from becoming absolutist. However, by mid 2011 , Singh achieved the goal of completely loyal PMO by removing all doubtful people.

Consternation in the Sonia Gandhi camp is quite palpable as her braintrust floated an idea to resurrect Kamraj plan of 1963. Khursid, Gulam Nabi Azad, Jairam Ramesh and others unabashedly blamed the government for all the rot crept into the party. Not only that they maligned their scruple by going public with such claim. However, Mukherjee immediately disowned such prognosis . what a coincidence that a day later Bofors controversy was brought into the fore with new revelations. This time the center of controversy is not late Rajiv Gandhi but Sonia Gandhi and her family who allegedly compelled the government to protect Quattrocchi , whom kickback was paid in Bofors deal. Now the situation has come to such a pass that the feud between the two camps has almost become irreconcilable. Both the camps opportunistically using party and government and trying to solicit support form outside forces. Another factor that contributes in the strength of Mr Singh has been opposition parties's inaction. They are waiting for a natural collapse of the alliance and the government. They presume that the more the UPA government continues the more slained they become.
It seems that 1969 is being revisited by the ruling party. The contemporary crisis is an indicative. There are many similarities. The presidential election was preceded by the formal split of the Congress in 1969. Indira Gandhi , the then PM, took refuge in the then Socialist bloc to denounce the Organisation as representing feudal and rightist forces. Indira used Presidential election to assert her position and strength and established her supremacy. Neelam Sanjiv Reddy was defeated by Indira's nominee V V Giri, the person of trade union background. Sonia loyalists are reframing their strategy. They may turn towards the Left for informal support taking pretext of pro- people policies. Left has always been a tool for destructive politics in India. They may find the present crisis as a God sent opportunity to retrieve their declining relevance in national politics.Mr Singh does not have mass base, nor does he enjoy the support within the party. Hence he can not imagine to split the party. But 'agencies' and 'activists' at his service will do their best to defuse anti-Singh move by actors of morally degenerated politics of the Congress. Sonia's core commitment for perpetuation of dynasty is her real driving force. Will she succeed in her mission? The trust deficit and acrimony between Singh and Sonia had impact on institutions, democratic process and policy formulations. The paralytic government and the party with malignancy have become burden on Indian democracy.

The country's polity is heading towards polarisation and strategic positioning of political forces. The Presidential election may prove fatal for one of the factions of the party. Sonia Gandhi has been playing minority game and most probably she would repeat in the case of the election of the President of the Indian republic in the month of July 2012. It is prudent for the main opposition party to save the country from falling once again into the trap of crisis of governance.

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