Congress can’t survive without Gandhi family; Rahul only obstacle for RSS, feel party’s faceless foot soldiers

The unanimous consensus among grassroot workers and volunteers is that Congress can’t do without Gandhi family, and if Congress fails to survive, idea of a secular and liberal India will wither away

(L-R) Priyanka and Rahul with Sonia Gandhi
(L-R) Priyanka and Rahul with Sonia Gandhi

Sanjukta Basu

Even as some sections of the media, civil society and Congress leaders seek change in the party’s top leadership in the aftermath of the recent poll debacle, ordinary Congress workers and volunteers have still not lost faith in the Gandhi family and Rahul Gandhi in particular. They believe that only the Gandhi siblings have put in efforts in these elections and it is the party machinery which did not deliver.

On social media platforms like Twitter Spaces and Facebook Live, people who are committed to the multi-cultural liberal and secular idea of India along with grassroots Congress workers and volunteers are getting together to share their despair after the results and brainstorm for the way ahead.

On recently held events on Twitter Spaces titled ‘Kamzor Waqt hai Rakt nahi (Weak is the time not the blood)’ and ‘Strategies for 2024’ attended by around 90-100 people, the unanimous consensus emerged that the Congress party can’t do without the Gandhi family, and that if the Congress fails to survive, the idea of a secular and liberal India too will wither away.

Volunteers were found passionately defending the Gandhi siblings and instead question various Congress office holders like the Observers, Communications In-charge and Congress MPs and MLAs regarding their roles and responsibility and how they had failed to deliver.

“Why observers are not taking responsibility? Eg @PChidambaram_IN in Goa. Why nobody blaming senior leaders like @ghulamnazad @KapilSibal @ShashiTharoor who didn’t campaign at all in 5 states,” asked a Shallu Chandla on Twitter.

Replying to Chandla’s tweet in which he was tagged, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor responded: “You can only campaign when & where you are asked to by the party. I was asked to campaign in Goa & in UP's Noida, both of which I did with gusto. The party did not require me elsewhere.”

However, during discussions, members of Twitter Spaces did not agree with the idea that a party leader should only campaign when they are asked to do so. “Why there is a lack of self-initiative? Why were only the Gandhi siblings running around during the campaign,” asked Sameer, a Congress volunteer from Rajasthan.

“Why each leader did not reach out to their constituency with party message? Even after the defeat they should visit their constituency and try to understand why they didn’t get votes,” he added.

Tariq Hussain, a lawyer from Lakhimpur Kheri, said that there is only one roadblock for the BJP and that is Rahul Gandhi. He is the only who has really hit the RSS hard in the last few years, he opined, adding that were spending crores in abusing him because only he can and would put an end to RSS’ unscrupulous activities if voted to power.

“At the moment, Rahul ji is removing the Sanghi moles from the party and this fight is far from over,” said Hussain.

Congress supporters believe that one of the greatest challenges which the party was facing is that voices of the grassroot level workers are not reaching Rahul Gandhi. Some of them are desperately looking for avenues to reach him, they say.

Pandit Vijay Kumar Sharma, a religious leader who adorns a saffron robe, said at an event on a Twitter Spaces, “We will no longer appease anybody in the party and will directly meet Rahul Gandhi. We will build up such a strong force that he will himself invite us. We would not let the party be ruined.”

Responding to concerns whether the leadership of the Gandhis is still acceptable to party workers, Pandit Vijay said, “Let us not question the family which has already given everything. In this country, rich people do not even go out to cast their vote, but the Gandhi family which had enough wealth to live a peaceful comfortable life anywhere in the world is still fighting for the people of India, withstanding all kinds of abuse and violence.”

A Delhi-based lawyer said in a phone interview that he was reduced to tears on the day of the election results. “I literally had tears, and I have not slept properly since then, but I have not lost hope. I may or may not formally join the party, but would start grassroots level campaign. I have to do all that I can to save the idea of a secular India,” he said.

In their attempts to understand the reasons behind the defeat of the party, most Congress supporters zeroed in on the role of media and Election Commission’s inaction. “After the model code of conduct came into operation, Congress vehicles were not even allowed to fly the party flag, but the Prime Minister was giving interview on the eve of elections and EC did not do anything,” said Manish Tiwari, a Congress volunteer from Chhattisgarh.

“Voters’ minds are rigged not only by media, advertisements but even by Bollywood films. Just look at the way they are creating a hateful atmosphere around the release of the film ‘The Kashmir Files’. We have to get into people’s minds and for that we need to capture the media,” said Faraz Shere, a freelance journalist.

“There is no comparison between social media reach and TV news channels’ reach. Right wing channels like Republic, Zee, TV 9 etc collectively reach almost 100 crore people daily. Imagine the power of messaging when all these channels together run Modi’s interview just on the eve of elections. On ground, you can address only a few thousand people. But when such visuals are spread via TV news, it reaches 20 times more people,” Faraz added.

The role of Aam Admi Party and other opposition parties is also being criticized in various circles. “They are not interested in fighting BJP. Their only goal is to defeat Congress. It is a clever ploy by the RSS to remove Congress from the political scene so that whichever party is in power can be controlled by the Sangh,” says a volunteer.

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