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Sushil Kutty

The Congress is 137 and in a hurry to turn fossil, led by the nose into old age. Some liquefied high fliers in the party, sensing atrophy in the bones, have already flown the coop. Others haven't, out of a misplaced sense of loyalty to the party, if not for the family, which in turn couldn't be playing a more potent role in the disintegration. The grapevine is tingling with talk that siblings Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra Gandhi will be the pallbearers for the Congress.

Not that euthanasia wasn't known in 1947 but, where Mahatma Gandhi was all for ending the party of the freedom struggle, Jawaharlal Nehru couldn't bring himself to committing hara-kiri. But those were golden days for the Congress. Now, decades later, Nehru's great grandson and great granddaughter are presiding over a Congress that Nehru wouldn't recognize if it came knocking on his door in Valhalla, the Norse centre for afterlife.

Nehru was no Viking, but then the Norse are among the most democratic. And the Congress has been in doldrums for quite many years. Things have gone from bad to worse in the last year after the demise of political advisor to Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel. And the enigmatic Rahul Gandhi, much to the consternation of senior Congress leaders, hasn't been a success formula. Dissatisfied and feeling abandoned, these leaders went off the trodden path and on a tangent. Today, the G-23 is G-22 with one of the 23 turning partial Samajwadi.

Kapil Sibal guessed it right. He wouldn't be given a Rajya Sabha ticket this time by Sonia Gandhi and family. Not that Ghulam Nabi Azad got lucky. The Gandhi family, especially Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, isn't the recipient of bouquets post the selection of the party's Rajya Sabha candidates. The list has the usual suspects. The old established family loyalists who were rewarded with Rajya Sabha seats earlier, too.

Like Rajiv Shukla and Mukul Wasnik. And current favourite Randeep Surjewala. That these Congress leaders figure in the list is not the issue. The anger is that they would be contesting from outside of their states, like former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had made a habit of, contesting from Assam and Rajasthan.

This time, among the out-of-state beneficiaries are Rajiv Shukla and Surjewala. And the anger is boiling over in Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan, where these leaders have been foisted on the locals.

Those who made the list include P. Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Ajay Maken, Randeep Surjewala, Rajeev Shukla, Mukul Wasnik and Vivek Tankha. The names betray the hand of Rahul and Sonia Gandhi. If Chidambaram, Ramesh, Shukla and Wasnik are Sonia favourites, the names of Maken, Surjewala and Tankha have a definite Rahul tinge to them.

It is not just Congress leaders of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, both states ruled by the Congress, who do not like being left out, other more better known Congress aspirants are also throwing caution to the winds and displaying their utter disappointment at the Gandhi family. Actor Nagma, for example, says she has been waiting 18 years for Sonia Gandhi to keep her promise, “but look what she has gone and done, given the ticket to a poet who had joined the party only the other day.”

The actor-turned-politician was criticizing the selection of poet-turned-politician Imran Pratapgarhi, who belongs to Uttar Pradesh, a state which give the Congress “nil-batta-sanatta” in the just concluded assembly elections. It is not for nothing that many from inside and outside the Congress are ominously humming the death dirge for the Congress if the Gandhi family doesn't step back from the edge which happens to be the brink for the party.

Among the more well-regarded Congress leaders who haven't made the list includes the party's spokesperson Pawan Khera, somebody who spent hours every day defending the party and family, morning to evening. Khera wondered if there was something lacking in his “devotion” to party and family.

But Khera is not leaving the Congress like Sibal. The reason the Gandhi family can get away with unpopular decisions within the party is because Congressmen like Pawan Khera wouldn't fit in any other mould. The only political capital that Congress leaders like Khera have earned in their political careers is their loyalty to the 137-year-old party.

They wouldn't fit in, in any other party. The Congress is like second skin to them. Even to a celebrity like Nagma, minus the Congress tag, she wouldn't breathe easy. In the rush of new stars hitting all the filmy woods in the country, Nagma wouldn't be even among the least luminous. The Congress is turning out to be a party of the frustrated, by the frustrated, for the frustrated. (IPA Service)

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.


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