Congress protecting ‘dynasty’, hurting itself: BJP

Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s lengthy talk about the so-called achievements of the UPA government at Friday’s AICC session in Delhi smacks of hypocrisy, BJP general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan said, accusing her of a “neatly planned” ruse to protect the interests of the “dynasty” even at the cost of denigrating the government the party leads.
Gandhi rejected a demand from party workers to project Congress’s poll campaign chief and V-P Rahul Gandhi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate to take on BJP’s Narendra Modi.

“The Congress is not going to win at all. They are fearful of defeat in the 2014 general election…. Soniaji didn’t want to make Rahul the PM candidate because she didn’t want her son to take the blame for a resounding defeat at the hustings,” Pradhan told ET, emphasising that “the blame will now fall on the government and Manmohan Singh”.

He said it hardly makes any difference to the BJP whether Rahul Gandhi fights polls as Congress vice president or its PM candidate.

“The Congress is destined to lose badly either way,” he claimed. Historically, the Congress leadership has protected the interests of the dynasty even if it meant hurting the party as an electoral force, Pradhan added.

“Going on and on about UPA’s achievements makes no sense. The confused Congress leadership is desperate to safeguard the interests of the dynasty by all means,” he noted. It is a pity that the Congress continues to do so and resorts to denigrating the government and a PM, he added.

Political dynasties in India have come under close study, lately. In fact, scholars such as John Echeverri-Gent of the University of Virginia — who recently came out with a paper on the murky world of India’s election funding, among others — argue that the inflow of campaign finance allows “the family” to centralise control.

“They tend to have more access and control over this funding. Centralised campaign funding is a key feature of any dynastic political party, be it the Congress or the DMK,” he said in an interview to ET.

Such funds, he added, help the central leadership eliminate the role of affiliated mass organisations such as INTUC and others in electioneering.

“Because the family has access to these funds, it reduced the party’s incentive to build organisations — affiliates — that connect with segments of civil society,” he noted.

A few Congress leaders ET spoke to are of the view that Rahul should have been projected as PM to “energise” the organisation in the run-up to the polls. Sonia’s decision has not impressed them. They asked not to be named.


Pradhan said: “Indecision is the hallmark of the Congress in recent times. And this announcement is only a continuation of such a lazy policy.”

Meanwhile, Arun Jaitley, BJP’s leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, claimed in a statement that the decision not to make Rahul the PM candidate was never the original intention.

“In December 2013, Sonia had declared that the PM candidate would be announced at an appropriate time. In his recent press conference, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave testimonials to Rahul as a PM. Why did the party develop cold feet then? The Congress is losing the will to fight an adversity,” he said.

This article was first published in The Economic Times.

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