Another day of calamities in crisis-ridden Congress

Rajat Kain

FILE: New Delhi: Congress chief Sonia Gandi along with top leaders after meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Wednesday, December 15, 2015. Photo - PTI

FILE: New Delhi: Congress chief Sonia Gandi along with top leaders after meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Wednesday, December 15, 2015.
Photo – PTI

Is it crisis deepening further? Or a hint of an impending purge? Or, flag against the change of guard? For the Congress party, an easy comprehension will be to say more leaders, legislators and the regional heavyweights have left the party. The party, as on Tuesday, is grappling with the crisis of sorts in at least five states.

While, six of its legislators left to join Trinamool Congress in Tripura, there are reports of party’s state leadership facing difficulty in Meghalaya and once again in Uttarakhand.

Tuesday followed Monday, which saw former Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Ajit Jogi leaving the party to float his own outfit. The day ended with another senior leader Gurudas Kamat, Congress party’s strongman in Maharashtra, announcing an exit.

Kamat, five-time Member of Parliament and a Union minister, had also worn several hats within the organisation. At the time of his resignation, which he had termed “retirement from politics on personal grounds”, Kamat was General Secretary in-charge of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Sources in the Congress party confirmed of overnight hectic parleys to stave-off his exit but there seems to be freeze till at least Congress Working Committee, that is due to be held later this month.

FILE: Gurudas Kamat (first from the Left) with Rahul Gandhi and Ashok Gehlot. Photo - PTI

FILE: Gurudas Kamat (first from the Left) with Rahul Gandhi and Ashok Gehlot.
Photo – PTI

The insiders, however, agree that Gurudas Kamat’s exit will be a blow to next year’s BMC polls.

Congress is hoping for a favourable performance in the civic body polls, which is currently ruled by Shiv Sena, especially in the backdrop of string of victories in the other urban and rural local bodies in the last one year. In the long term, Kamat’s exit may also cast an impact on the local organisation strength given the grand old party will miss a person known for his managerial calibre and ears to the ground.

Off to another state – Chhattisgarh, where the party has been out of power since 2003, Jogi’s exit, though considerably news-worthy, has got a big section of Congress party heave a sigh of relief.

Party’s local leadership has been fervently demanding ‘High Command’ to sack Jogi after the audio tape controversy which alleged his involvement in fixing of a by-poll in favour of BJP. While, his son and sitting MLA Amit Jogi was sacked and expelled from the Congress party, Jogi Sr. was left sulking and fuming.

Though assembly polls in Chhattisgarh are still 30 months away, the party may be unnerved even with a whiff of an impact Jogi’s outfit may cause, given its present state.

The tales of woes didn’t cease with the nightfall.

West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee cast her vote in South Kolkata on April 30, 2016.

FILE: West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee cast her vote in South Kolkata on April 30, 2016.

On Tuesday morning, the party apparatus in Delhi got to know its former Tripura PCC chief and the leader of opposition in the legislative assembly Sudip Roy Burman, along with five other MLAs, have joined TMC. In a letter written to the Assembly Speaker, Burman wrote that his pack has “decided to disassociate” itself from the Congress party.

The party organisation has been in a state of disarray in Tripura, where it last ruled in 1993. Over the last two decades, it has faded into a deep oblivion with just handful of spoils in the polls.

On the other hand, the Trinamool Congress looks far better, acutely imaginative and certainly more combative to take on anything to do with the Left front. CPI (M) has 49 seats in a 60-member house, while the Congress is now left with just 4 MLAs.

Few hours down the day, the party unit in Uttarakhand, which looks frail and short of breath after surviving the March rebellion, is staring another possibility of a crack.

This time, state unit chief Kishore Upadhyaya is reportedly not at ease with Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s choice for the Rajya Sabha poll nomination. All this while, Rawat has been undergoing an intense CBI quizzing over the purported sting operation alleging horse-trading.

And now there are reports that in another state – Meghalaya, one of the six it rules – the party leadership is working hard to keep the rebellion away.