The Himachal Debacle Symbolises The Congress Crisis

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | March 04, 2024 IST

The Himachal Debacle Symbolises The Congress Crisis

Sutanu Guru

Himachal Pradesh is such a small state that political developments there seldom make it to national headlines. This is a time when politics in India is heating up in the run up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. While Narendra Modi is looking to create history by winning three successive mandates, the great grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru (who won in 1952, 1957 & 1962) Rahul Gandhi is set to create his own kind of record: leading the Congress to three consecutive humiliating Lok Sabha defeats. It is in this context that the crisis engulfing the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh becomes relevant. In many ways, it symbolises the abject and utter failure of top leaders like Rahul and advisors like Jairam Ramesh to gauge pubic sentiments and also to keep the flock together at a time when the party is facing an existential crisis.

Failure to gauge public mood and perceptions has become a hallmark of the Rahul led party. It committed a blunder by deciding to “boycott” the consecration ceremony of the Ram Lalla idol. Both Sonia Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge were formally invited. After hemming and hawing for weeks, they both declined the invitation. Many senior Congress leaders dismissed the event as a Modi marketing gimmick. This deeply offended tens of millions of Hindus who recognised the ceremony as a marker of national resurgence. A senior minister in the Congress government in Himachal led by chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukku, Vikramaditya Singh openly defied the party top brass by publicly announcing that he will attend the consecration ceremony. For good measure, he added that Ram is all encompassing and nothing could be more important than devotion to the deity. Vikramaditya is the son of the late Vir Bahadur Singh who has been the tallest Himachal leader for decades and was chief minister on six occasions. Senior party leaders sitting in Delhi should have noted the open defiance by a senior Congress colleague. Or they should have been gracious enough to “officially” send a Congress delegation to Ayodhya from Himachal. The author was in Himachal Pradesh for a few days recently and saw that locals in the state were really angry with the Congress because they felt the party had insulted Lord Ram. That the top leadership ignored pubic sentiments made Himachalis even more angry.

Even as this anger was simmering, the Congress committed yet another blunder. Rajya Sabha elections were due towards end February. The Congress had 40 MLAS in the 68- member assembly with three independents also supporting it while the BJP has just 25 MLAs. Winning the Rajya Sabha seat should have been a cakewalk for the party. But, out of the blue, the Congress nominated senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi as the candidate. This led to even more resentment in Congress ranks. Never before had an “outsider” been sent to the Rajya Sabha from Himachal Pradesh. The BJP was quick to pounce on this opportunity. It promptly nominated Harsh Mahajan, a veteran Congress leader of the state who had joined the BJP a few years back as the party candidate. There were clear signs and signals coming from Shimla that a revolt was brewing. But the top leadership in Delhi acted as it it was in slumber. On the day of the election, many Congress MLAs cross voted in favour of their former colleague Mahajan and Manu Singhvi had to face the humiliation of a defeat. It is when all this happened and the Congress government teetered on the edge of a collapse that trouble shooters were sent by the party high command to sort out the mess. They persuaded Vikramaditya Singh to take back his resignation as chief minister and the Speaker of the assembly disqualified six Congress MLAs. The party high command also made it clear that it would back Sukhvinder Singh Sukku as the chief minister.

Within days of this temporary truce, the revolt led by Vikramaditya Singh took on a life of its own. Even as the author writes this, there is speculation of Vikramaditya moving away with a bunch of MLAs to launch his own party. Or even of him and a bunch of MLAs resigning their seats and joining the BJP. This has already happened in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. If that happens, it will be curtains for the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh. Even if that doesn’t happen, the BJP is poised to sweep the state in the Lok Sabha elections with a massive margin. It could be that the dominoes will start falling after the Lok Sabha election results are announced. 

Rarely has the author seen a party whose top leaders are so out of touch with public mood and so incompetent in keeping the flock together.

Disclaimer:

This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.

 

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