The top leadership of the Congress is evolving a mechanism to manage factionalism in the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC). The strategy is likely to be similar to the mechanism the BJP uses to tame its dissidents and with it, the Congress is hoping to unite its splinter groups.
The leadership has conveyed to the cadre that those unwilling to work in the party’s interest would be free to leave. The reforms are likely to come into force after the elevation of vice-president Rahul Gandhi to the AICC president post.
A source in the Congress told the Indian Express: “The appointment of Vice-President Rahul Gandhi as the next AICC president is a certainty.” The Maharashtra Congress believes the AICC presidential polls should be held through consensus and the situation does not warrant elections.
However, both the Centre and the state’s larger concern is inculcating discipline and taming dissidents to strengthen the organisation. Insiders indicated that once the organisational polls are over, certain guidelines would come into force.
A senior Congress leader said: “Today, the biggest problem of the party is individuals working at cross purposes. This defeats the primary objective of strengthening the organisation.” To find a way, a decision will be taken to reach out to all those in the who are unhappy and have been in criticism mode for the past five years against the party and its leadership. An insider said: “State-wide consultation has begun at the AICC level. Notwithstanding the electoral success of the BJP at the Centre and state, the Congress is going to start the process to fix problems within the organisation.”
A senior state Congress leader who is part of the exercise said: “The time has come to determine to what extent dissidence against the party president should be tolerated at the Centre or state level.”
Citing examples, he said: “Today, if a senior AICC or MPCC leader speaks against Rahul Gandhi, it does not augur well for the party’s interest. Such in-house indiscipline will have to be nipped.” Referring to the BJP, he said: “In the BJP, nobody dares to publicly or privately utter a word against their Prime Minister Narendra Modi or BJP president Amit Shah. Even if someone dares, the party takes quick action.”
He added: “During zilla parishad elections, a Congress worker from Nagpur threw ink at MPCC president Ashok Chavan. Now, AICC leadership has already given permission to act against the Nagpur leader. The party has identified the senior candidate who was behind the incident. Yet, our leaders are reluctant to initiate action.” He also referred to former chief minister Narayan Rane who publicly criticised the AICC and MPCC and is a party member.
Although the dos and don’ts in the Congress constitution are clear, a political manager said: “Over the years, dissidents have been allowed to flourish as it helped individuals score points against the state president or the top AICC leadership. But this has also led to a huge damage to the organisation’s image and disconnected people from the leadership.”
Sensing that morale is down, the AICC is unlikely to crack the whip immediately. But it is likely to send observers in each state to find out what are their grievances.