Incoherence in the Congress

Insightonlinenews is placing the Editorial of Hindustan Times Dated 29th Sep 2021 which reveals the Stalemate in punjab congress party

Navjot Singh Sidhu’s resignation is a classic example of flawed decision-making of the high command of the Congress party

The Congress leadership — which in the current context primarily means the brother-sister duo of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra — invested their political capital and authority in Punjab. They first decided that Captain Amarinder Singh would not be able to lead the party to victory in 2022 and appointed his arch-rival Navjot Singh Sidhu as party president. The leadership thought this would neutralise anti-incumbency, but all it did was deepen the factional divide. Then, within weeks, they decided that a dual power arrangement won’t work and orchestrated a situation which made Captain Singh’s continuation untenable. After a series of names did the rounds as replacements — Ambika Soni, Sunil Jakhar, and Sukhjinder Randhawa — the party appointed Charanjit Singh Channi, a Dalit leader, as the new chief minister (CM). It patted itself on the back for what it thought was a masterstroke in creating a Jat Sikh-Dalit Sikh alliance with Mr Sidhu as party chief and Mr Channi as CM, but as this newspaper pointed out last week, the party had possibly sown the seeds of a deeper divide. From two major factions, that of Captain Singh and Mr Sidhu, five factions emerged — that of Mr Sidhu, Mr Jakhar, Mr Randhawa and Mr Channi, besides that of the former CM.

On Tuesday, the leadership’s experiment collapsed with Mr Sidhu resigning as party chief, less than two months after his appointment. The move, apparently driven by Mr Sidhu’s pique over not having his way with appointments, has illustrated the flawed decision-making of the party leadership. The party left a review of the Punjab electoral landscape for too late; it did not display acumen in choosing a party president, for Mr Sidhu has a track record of U-turns and hasn’t displayed the temperament required of political leaders, and depended on his oratory; and in its suspicion of what it sees as the entrenched old guard of the party, relied on advice that did not take into account the complexities of the state.

The Punjab story only illustrates why the rest of the Opposition does not trust the political instincts and judgment of the Congress leadership. This has led to a competitive landscape, where parties are seeking to fill the vacuum left by the Congress.

In Punjab, the Aam Aadmi Party is expected to be a beneficiary of the struggles within the Congress, while in other states, the Trinamool Congress is seeking to position itself as a national alternative. The Congress must introspect honestly about Punjab if it wants to revive its electoral fortunes.

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