After the drubbing of the Indian National Congress in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, there has been a huge debate going around on the ‘future’ of the grand old party. All political pundits and commentators, who were hoping for a revival of Congress, at least as a strong opposition if not as a ruling party, have now started doubting the future of the party.
Yogendra Yadav, president of Swaraj India, said on a TV show that “Congress must die” since it is an obstacle to those who want to build an alternative. However, renowned academician, Suhas Palshikar, wrote a rebuttal explaining why the Congress party is necessary for India.
Among all these viewpoints and disagreements, Marri Shashidhar Reddy, a Congress leader from Telangana, demanded the implementation of Kamaraj Plan 2.0. Though the success of the original Kamaraj plan is in itself debatable, the Congress, in its current state, is not left with many options except for some radical changes within the party at structural and leadership level.
Recent media reports claimed that Rahul Gandhi made some strident remarks about the top party leaders who worked for promoting their own sons above the party interest in the elections. The Congress president was reportedly upset from the fact that Ashok Gehlot neglected the state and campaigned over a week in Jodhpur for his son Vaibhav Gehlot, who was up against Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and eventually lost the election by over 3 lakh votes.
Though Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s son Nakul Nath contested from Chhindwara and won the election by a margin of over 3.5 lakh votes, it was the only seat Congress managed to win in Madhya Pradesh and the Party was wiped out in Rajasthan.
Reddy’s demand to implement Kamaraj plan after the poll debacle was not unfounded. After the Assembly election results of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, it took almost a week for the Congress high command to decide over the state leadership. The young Turks, Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia were the intra-party challengers for the chief ministerial post of Rajasthan and M.P. respectively, but the old guards won the race.
These Congress’ veterans have not been able to extrapolate the performance of Assembly elections to the Lok Sabha elections and the responsibility needs to fixed at the state level as well. Congress might want to look forward to a Kamaraj Plan 2.0 by relieving the old guards and rejuvenating the party with the Young Turks.
What is the Kamaraj Plan?
Kamaraj Plan is named after Kumaraswami Kamaraj who served the Madras province (now Tamil Nadu) as the Chief Minister for 10 years and then became the president of the Indian National Congress (INC). K Kamaraj was known for his political acumen and widely acknowledged as the ‘kingmaker’ of the Indian politics in the 1960s, especially after he helped Indira Gandhi to become the Prime Minister when a veteran like Morarji Desai was the frontrunner for the coveted post.
After winning three consecutive Assembly elections, K Kamaraj felt that the party leaders have distanced themselves from the fears and feelings of the masses due to continuous incumbency and slowly losing its vigour at the grass-roots level. He met the then Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, offered his resignation and wanted to take the reins of Pradesh Congress Committee.
Kamaraj also proposed to Nehru that all senior Congress leaders should resign from ministerial posts and dedicate themselves to revitalize the party. Impressed by Kamaraj’s vision, Nehru made him the president of the INC and tried a nationwide implementation of the plan which was popularly called ‘Kamaraj Plan’.
Is it time for the Congress to do what Kamraj did in 1963? Should top leaders leave the government positions in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab and go to the grounds in a bid to revive the party?
The voice of dissent in the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee has already become prominent after the party’s humiliating performance in the Lok Sabha elections. A Congress MLA from Rajasthan, Prithviraj Meena, said that the Chief Minister should bear the responsibility of the election drubbing and he should be replaced by his deputy, Sachin Pilot.
Meanwhile, Ashok Gehlot blamed Sachin Pilot for his son’s defeat and went on to say that he should own complete responsibility for the Jodhpur seat at least.
It’s just a matter of time that the dissent grows in other regions as well, especially in Madhya Pradesh where Scindia’s ambition to become the Chief Minister of the state was destroyed by Kamal Nath after the last Assembly election.
It’s yet to be seen what measures would Congress take to quell the dissent and revive the party to claim itself as a strong alternative to the ruling party and put an end to the TINA factor, or ‘There’s Is No Alternative’, but the ‘Kamaraj plan 2.0’ might be one of the options the party would look at.
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