Politician Jitin Prasada’s defection on Wednesday, 9 June, from Congress to the Bharatiya Janata Party – the second high-profile exit of a prominent Congress leader in recent memory – has revealed the escalating crisis within the national party and triggered speculation over similar exits in the future.
Amid this, several senior Congress functionaries have weighed in on the need for reforms in party, with leader M Veerappa Moily stressing that the party needs to undergo a “major surgery.”
"“Congress needs to undergo major surgery. People with competence and mass base should be given charge of various states.”" - M Veerappa Moily, according to news agency ANI
He also insisted that the leadership at the top must prioritise ideological commitment and grant responsibility to leaders.
Moily was among the bold, senior Congress members – coined the G-23 group of leaders – who had penned a letter to interim president Sonia Gandhi in August last year, appealing for ‘visible’ and ‘full-time’ leadership of the party.
Put ‘Proper People’ in Positions of Responsibility: Moily
Speaking to PTI, Moily asserted that party reorganisation needs to be done “with proper people in positions (of responsibility)” and “not incompetent people who cannot deliver.”
He added, “This is a lesson, the Congress needs to make an introspection in the face of the developments.”
Expressing his skepticism with Prasad’s ideological leanings, he said that Prasada valued “personal ambition” over anything else.
"“He was always a suspect. He isn’t secular. He was casteist and wanted to perpetuate casteist politics in UP. He was given many posts. Responsibility should be given to people who are committed to party ideology.”" - M Veerappa Moily
Adding that Prasad’s incompetence was displayed during Congress’ failure during the West Bengal elections, he said that youngsters with the right history and ideological orientation should be given important posts in the party.
“Their (the leaders’) history will have to be seen, their commitment will have to be seen, their dynamism, approach and experience needs to be given weightage,” Moily said, PTI reported.
Leadership Has to Listen: Former Union Min Kapil Sibal
Kapil Sibal, another senior party leader and a member of the ‘G-23’, also offered insight saying that it is time for the top leadership to “listen,” and expressed disapproval of "Prasada Ram politics based on personal gain" rather than ideology, NDTV reported.
Emphasising his refusal to change political alliances, he said, “If the party for some reason tells me we don't need you, I will leave it. I am not in it for myself, but I will never in my life over my dead body join the BJP who I have opposed since my birth as a politician. That's my issue with Jitin Prasada," the report added.
He also added that issues within the party must be “addressed as quickly as possible” and offered his insight on the tensions within the party, “Don't ask me, ask whoever has to address them. The Congress must become the grand old party that it was. For that we need reforms. We are fighting within the system we have continued to raise issues. If the head stops listening, the organisation will decline. All that we want is that the Congress party should listen to us."
The former Union minister asserted that people are losing faith in principled politics, saying that he doesn’t blame Prasada for his exit, but objects to his reasons to do so.
“With what face can he say that now I am embracing an ideology I was opposed to for three decades? And this party that talks about principled politics, with what face do they take Jitin? People are losing faith in this kind of politics,” he said, NDTV quoted.
Other Congress Leaders Share Views on the Exit
Meanwhile, Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge said, “Jitin Prasada was traditional Congressman, we gave him respect, he wasn't ignored. He was general secy, Bengal in charge. was allowed to contest every time. Despite this, if he blames Congress and ideology for which he & his father worked, it's sad (sic).”
In his column in The Quint, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor wrote:
"“For a few years now, we have seen the advent of the careerist politician, who enters politics as a profession rather than a cause. Principles and passions matter much less to him than his own prospects for advancement.”" -
Alluding to the present scenario – of Prasada abandoning a party in a state of crisis and joining a rival ruling party – he added, “If the party he has chosen, for whatever reason, to join, is not doing well, he is not prepared for the long, hard struggle to bring it to success. His principal concern is not “what do I believe?” but “what’s in it for me?””
The Chief Organiser of Congress Sevadal, Lalji Desai, had termed Prasada’s exit a “betrayal” on Wednesday, and said, “Wearing the strap of the same party you had ideological differences with, for your personal selfishness? It is a shameful thing.”
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