What a coincidence it is! Last week, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi spoke his mind about his one-time close aide Jyotiraditya Scindia quitting the party and becoming a 'backbencher' in the BJP. He was addressing the Youth Wing of the Congress in Delhi. Rahul said that Scindia would have become a Chief Minister if he had stayed with the Congress. The statement, however, didn't impress Scindia, who snapped back saying it would have been a different story if Rahul had been concerned the same way when he was with the party.
It seems even PC Chacko was not very impressed with Rahul Gandhi's assertion on the significance of sticking to the grand old party. The Congress veteran from Kerala, and a crucial figure in Lutyens’ Delhi, not only called it quits just days ahead of the assembly elections, but also questioned the existence of democracy in the party.
Once a die-hard Gandhi family loyalist, PC Chacko complained of factionalism in the Kerala unit of the Congress and accused the party high-command of being a mute spectator to the situation.
Essentially, the arguments made by PC Chacko run counter to what Congress de-facto boss Rahul Gandhi claimed a few days ago. Both of them can't be true. In the national executive meeting of office bearers of the Indian Youth Congress, Rahul Gandhi regretted having focussed on young faces in the party and promised to reward those who stay committed to the Congress ideology. But perhaps his message was not well-conveyed to the old guard who decided to quit out of frustration with the party leadership.
Onus on Rahul Gandhi to put the house in order before polls in Kerala
The timing of PC Chacko's resignation can't be ignored. He has categorically said that he is not going to join the BJP, but his penchant for the left ideology is not hidden from anyone. And according to Opinion poll surveys, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) is set to return to power in Kerala riding on the popularity of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
So far the Congress had believed that the party would take turns to rule the state in 2021, as Kerala has a history of alternating governments every five years. But after the debacle in the local body elections in December 2020, the Congress leadership has gone into a tizzy. So much so, that the party is wary of announcing its chief ministerial candidate in the state, keeping its options open to lure different communities and avoid any backlash.
Announcing his departure, PC Chacko said that the Congress is divided into two groups in Kerala, headed by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala, but the party has chosen to look the other way.
Rahul Gandhi can't shift the blame on anyone else if Congress receives a humiliating defeat in Kerala. He is a member of parliament from the state and the Congress cadres look up to him to win the hearts of the people. He seems to be campaigning hard, but that is not enough, Rahul Gandhi needs to end the factionalism first to strengthen the party and keep hope alive.
In the current scenario, if 'rebel' PC Chacko jumps on the left bandwagon, life can become more difficult for the Congress leaders in Kerala.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of India TV. The author can be reached on Twitter @iamomtiwari)