Partings are seldom amicable, least of all political fall-outs. The dirt really flies when the break involves “crossing the floor” and terms like “traitor, defector, renegade, turncoat, self-serving” come into play.
All that, and more, has marked the discourse following the decision of the once-powerful Congress leader of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, to switch over to the BJP.
What the future holds for his political fortunes is as yet unclear, but what does “register” is that in one of his encounters on television he more than once asserted that Rahul Gandhi has a preference for “blue-bloods”.
That came after Sarma made it clear that he had no problem with party president Sonia Gandhi that it was her heir apparent who had had irked him, left him embittered.
It is years since Indira Gandhi de-recognised the princely order. The “royals” who have sought a political mantle so as to remain firmly in the ruling class avoid overtly stressing their background; in that context the “blue-blood” accusation would appear somewhat inaccurate.
Yet Sarma was not speaking in that brand of metaphor, his targets were the political dynasties that have attached themselves to the top Congress leadership, Rahul in particular.
For even a cursory glance at those who constitute Rahul&’s chorus, in Parliament and beyond, confirms that all are second-generation netas Rs Sushmita Dev, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Gaurav Gogoi, Randeep Surjewala, Deepender Singh Hooda, Sachin Pilot…. Their fathers had been close to Rajiv Gandhi, the affections were transferred to Sonia, and now the next generation rides the Rahul bandwagon.
Even if in the Congress’ context “loyalists” have a curious connotation, it suggests that dynastic rule is taken for granted, expected perhaps. At one level loyalty and commitment to an upcoming leader may appear “positive” but there are inherent negatives too.
While a few of those mentioned may have done some political work of their own, the fact that they were raised in politically powerful surroundings suggests that they never worked their way up from the grassroots Rs Rahul certainly did not.
And if Sarma&’s charges “stick” there could be much self-preservation to their rallying around him. That does ring a bell of sorts. Recall that when he was exiting the Congress then defence minister KC Pant had contended that Rajiv had surrounded himself with a coterie.
Just what quality of political advice Rahul receives from his back-up is open to question, but they probably contribute substantially to the frustration manifest at having been deprived of power, resulting in rash, ill-considered decisions, often propelled by pique.
It might also explain Rahul&’s racing from one trouble spot to another, attracting some attention, but never following-up on the “cause”. What a telling difference between earned and bequeathed “leadership”.
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