Kamaraj Plan Redux: The first to go will be the last of the Gandhis – Ravi Shankar Etteth

Ravi Shankar Etteth“If coming trends show 2014 to be the cemetery year of the Congress, it’s possible Rahul’s own mélange of sycophants will ask for a Kamaraj Plan-redux. The first to go will be the last of the Gandhis. Neither the minorities nor the Dalits in Rahul’s hospitality business are going to offer sanctuary. They want cable TVs and IT jobs, not handouts and bleeding-heart slogans. Socialism’s new shepherd needs to mind its flock, starting now.” – Ravi Shankar Etteth

Mir JafarSometime in 1757, two hundred and fifty-five years before the Uttar Pradesh election results were known, Mir Jafar, a nobleman in the retinue of the then-Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daula, took `1.7 crore from Robert Clive and betrayed his king. Whether it was greed that drove him to treachery, or he was a farsighted courtier who foresaw the end of Indian royalty at the hands of the British and made his money, is a matter of historical debate. The truth is, treachery is the dark side of power. Even darker is the loyalty of those whose fortunes depend on the might of their leader.

Rahul Gandhi’s political ruin in Uttar Pradesh marks the beginning of the end of the Nehru-Gandhi bloodline in politics. If history is its weathervane, the Congress, which has fattened itself on the Gandhi name for decades, is likely to abandon the regent-prince sooner or later.

Should Rahul care to flip the pages back, his party has a resume of revolt. After Jawaharlal Nehru’s death, a powerful caucus of Congressmen known as the Syndicate, led by Kamaraj—whose Kamaraj Plan called upon Congress leaders to resign their posts and work on strengthening the party—chose Lal Bahadur Shastri as PM, ignoring Indira Gandhi. However, Shastri died in office, and the Syndicate chose Indira over Morarji for PM—they called her ‘goongi gudiya’. She split the Congress in 1969. Two parties were born: the Syndicate’s Congress (O) and Indira’s Congress (I). In 1977, Babu Jagjivan Ram, who was a minister during the Emergency, quit the Congress and joined the Janata Party. In 1978, Devraj Urs, a staunch Indira-loyalist, left the Congress (I) to form Congress (U) along with A K Antony, Sharad Pawar, Priyaranjan Das Munshi and K P Unnikrishnan—some of whom are now ministers in the UPA. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, both P V Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesri kept the Gandhis at arm’s length. From being the face of the party, the Family was reduced to being its mascot. The irony is, most rebels, from Kamaraj to Kesri, were loyal to Nehru and the Gandhis when the dynasty’s credit was good with voters.

Rahul Gandhi in UPIndira’s death was the dynasty’s last gift to one of its own: in 1984, Rajiv Gandhi led the Congress to an unprecedented majority in Parliament. Since then, no Gandhi has ever led the party to absolute victory. Rahul lost face in UP. And the dynasty lost face in the country. Today, the Congress doesn’t have a face anywhere. It had no CM candidate in UP or Uttarakhand. In Punjab, the usual suspect flopped. In Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kashmir, West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh, the party doesn’t have a single chief ministerial face that instills shock-and-awe among its cadres. In Kerala and Andhra, the chief ministers are in mere survival mode. A story doing the rounds in Delhi is, that Rahul wanted to be the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, but the party didn’t agree. He is too big for state politics, they said. He is a Gandhi. A national leader.

National leader of what? Of a party that has no national leader with a regional base, or a single state boss with national stature? It’s a party whose president says “has too many leaders”—but none to take it to victory in 2014. Rahul Gandhi is the dynasty’s last throw of dice. Unfortunately, he’s just lost the game.

However glorious its reign, a dynasty ends tamely—remember Bahadur Shah Zafar? If coming trends show 2014 to be the cemetery year of the Congress, it’s possible Rahul’s own mélange of sycophants will ask for a Kamaraj Plan-redux. The first to go will be the last of the Gandhis. Neither the minorities nor the Dalits in Rahul’s hospitality business are going to offer sanctuary. They want cable TVs and IT jobs, not handouts and bleeding-heart slogans. Socialism’s new shepherd needs to mind its flock, starting now. – The New Indian Express, Chennai, March 11, 2012

» Ravi Shankar can be contacted at Ravi@newindianexpress.com

One Response

  1. The article seems to be too much underestimating the power of the Gandhis. Kindly remember that none of the detractors could survive for long and power was back to the gandhis very shortly. Also, there were many tall leaders in those days who could survive without the gandhis, but today the leaders are no more. UPA chairperson has surrounded herself with people with no mass base and whose survival depends on her will. Everyone knows who they are and they understand their weaknesses well. The best pretender is being sent to raisina hill and that leaves with people who will not be contenders in 2014. Whether the country likes it or not, there is no force stopping rahul from pm post. a weak opposition and a CBI fearful allies will ensure that.

    Much against your desure, for the next 50 years, India will still be under the gandhis and the powers that back them. Dont underestimate the gandhis please.

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