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Congress leadership crisis: A tale of two states, Rajasthan and Manipur

In Rajasthan, last month Congress leader Sachin Pilot was removed from his Deputy CM and party president post after his ‘internal’ revolt. The move created a huge uproar of political presumption regarding the future of Sachin Pilot and the MLAs who backed him. Some reports came of him joining the BJP came to which he dismissed. There were also reports of him starting a new regional party. Cut to August, things look bright for the Congress in Rajasthan in averting what observers call a ‘political crisis’ of the party. A three-member committee has been formed by Congress over the issues raised by Pilot and the MLAs. Along with that, Sachin Pilot presided a meeting with Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi who have assured him a road-map to solve his grievances. “In our meeting, Priyanka ji and Rahul ji heard our grievances patiently and assured that a road map will be chalked out to solve them”, said Sachin Pilot.

Ease of tensions

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In other news, the bad blood between Pilot and Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister of Rajasthan, which was also seen as the fight between the old and the new guards of the party seems to have reduced if not totally subsided. Sachin Pilot openly stated about his ‘respect’ for Ashok Gehlot even though the latter called him a ‘nikkama’. “I imbibed certain values from my family, no matter how much I oppose anyone, I’ve never used such language. Ashok Gehlot ji is elder to me and I respect him personally but I have the right to raise work-related concerns”, said Sachin Pilot.

Meanwhile, Ashok Gehlot has accused the BJP of trying to topple the Congress Government. “BJP tried its best to topple the government, but in the end, all our party MLAs are together, not even a single member has left us. None of our MLAs fell for horse-trading. This is a victory of the people of Rajasthan. Income Tax and CBI are being misused and politics is being done in the name of religion by them. They are dividing people on religion to gain votes and retain power,” Gehlot said.

Also read: Assam: 70 groups to form political party ahead of Assembly polls 2021?

Damage Control

This experience amid its bitterness looks like a positive scenario for the Congress who have successfully managed to deal with the bigger egos of its politicians and come to conclusion. Unlike the previous instances where it has lost key leaders such as Yeduguri Sandinti Jaganmohan Reddy (current Andhra CM), Himanta Biswa Sarma (Assam Health Minister and NEDA Chief), Pradyot Manikya (TIPRA Chairman and dynamic leader) and the recent being Jyotiraditya Scindia. All these leaders left the party for different reasons and ambitions, yet the common factor was that Congress didn’t give ear to their personal issues.

Yet the irony

At the same time when the Rajasthan’s positive developments were unfolding, Manipur’s BJP government under Biren Singh faced a trust vote after the opposition Congress filed a no-confidence motion.

In the voting, 8 Congress MLAs were found to be absent. Following the vote, six among the eight Congress MLAs have quit the party. The BJP won the trust vote by voice vote in the Assembly as overall 28 BJP MLAs and 16 Congress MLAs were present during voting. Chaos ensued for the Congress as their MLAs raised protest and threw chairs in the well of the House as per sources. Prior to the vote, out of 24 Congress MLAs, a dozen did not attend a crucial party meeting on Sunday ahead of the trust vote. Hence the result was not unexpected in political circles.

However, voting against the party mandated candidate is not a one-off experience. During the Rajya Sabha (RS) elections on July, 2 Congress MLAs cross voted to BJP by going against the party whip. Later, they received show-cause notices by the party.

How it started?

The political crisis in Manipur began even before the RS polls when the BJP government in Manipur had lost majority as 9 MLAs in Manipur had resigned from the government. Out of the 9 MLAs, 3 are from the BJP, 4 National People’s Party (NPP), 1 TMC and one independent.

At first, the three Manipur BJP sitting MLAs joined the Congress party and four NPP members, including a minister, an independent MLA of Jiribam and TMC MLA of the coalition, withdrew support from the coalition govt and expressed support to the Congress party led by Okram Ibobi Singh.

However, the incident had no impact as on 24th June, the NPP delegation led by Sri Y Joy Kumar flew to Delhi to meet BJP Chief Amit Shah. BJP NEDA Chief and Assam Health Minister tweeted regarding the situation. The NPP came back with the BJP and the status quo remained intact.

Congress claimed BJP meddling in the entire change of events that happened during the strict quarantine. However, what it fails to mention is the incapacity to consolidate these momentums into gains thereby forming a government in Manipur.

Beyond Manipur

It would still be unfair to compare Congress in Rajasthan vs the Congress in Manipur due to different demography, monetary and political power in terms of shaping national politics. Yet the commonality being the party’s challenge to tackle BJP’s aggressive appropriation of its MLAs and the bigger issue of halting political erosion to which it failed in Manipur which seeps into a leadership crisis.

The bigger questions

Has the Congress really solved its internal crisis from the Rajasthan experience or are they unaware of this inner turmoil happening in other parts of the country?

Do the Congress lack a regional grouping such as that of NEDA by BJP to tackle the saffron party in a bigger way?

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