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Rahul Gandhi must NOT lead the Congress Party - in India's Interest!

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Dear Friend,

I am writing this petition to talk about something very important for all Indians.

Today, the BJP is in a position of almost complete dominance in the country, having an absolute majority in Parliament as well as in most state legislatures. If things were to continue like this, by 2020, there will be zero opposition to the BJP in India.

This would be a disaster for all Indians – even those who support the BJP. Every party, every leader in every country needs a strong and active opposition to keep it honest. If there is no opposition, the rulers will become lazy and corrupt. Right now, apart from the Congress, there is no pan-Indian party with a centrist, secular philosophy. All the other parties are either regional, casteist, or communal in their philosophy. For better or for worse, the Congress is the only party that can present a national opposition to the BJP. Remove them, and BJP leaders will feel free to do whatever they want, completely unchecked. This is bad for the nation. So, even though the BJP slogan is “Congress-mukt Bharat,” this is not a good thing even for BJP supporters, let alone their opponents.

The fall of the Congress from the heights of power has been calamitous and sudden. A party that was ruling the centre with a strong majority in the 2009 elections, with power in many states, has seen itself losing in election after election, with few bright spots such as the recent Punjab elections to cheer it.

The main reason for such a catastrophic decline has been a lack of good leadership at the top of the party. For a decade now, Mr. Rahul Gandhi has been groomed to be the future President of the Congress Party. For two years now, there has been talk that he should replace his mother, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, as the President of the Congress Party. Even today (7th June, 2017), there was a news item stating that the decks have been cleared for his ascension to the Presidency. This cannot be allowed to happen.

This is very alarming, and this is why. Consider Mr. Gandhi’s track record since taking centre stage in the party:

  1. Losing the 2007 UP state elections miserably while leading the Congress effort in the state, and doing worse than it did in the previous elections.
  2. Losing the 2010 Bihar state elections, again doing worse than the Congress did in 2010.
  3. Losing the 2012 Gujarat state elections.
  4. Losing the 2012 Goa state elections miserably to the BJP, losing nearly half its strength in the assembly.
  5. Losing two-thirds of the seats in the Nagaland state elections in 2013
  6. Losing the Tripura state elections in 2013.
  7. Losing the Delhi elections in 2013, with a loss of 35 of their 43 seats, and going to third place from being the ruling party.
  8. Disastrously losing the 2013 Rajasthan state elections to the BJP, losing 75 of their 96 seats.
  9. Losing the 2013 Madhya Pradesh state elections, with a further erosion in its seat count, from 71 to 58.
  10. Losing the 2013 Chhatisgarh elections to the BJP.
  11. Losing the 2014 Andhra Pradesh elections and coming in 5th place, after being unable to contain factionalism in the AP Congress, resulting in the breakaway faction of the YSR Congress.
  12. Losing the 2014 Telangana state elections, despite helping form the state of Telangana, because of an inability to forge a coalition with the TRS, losing 30 of its previously-held 51 seats in that state.
  13. Losing the 2014 Odisha state elections, losing 11 out of its previously-held 27 seats.
  14. Losing the 2014 Sikkim state elections.
  15. Losing the major state elections in Maharashtra in 2014, losing 40 out of its 82 seats, ending up in third place behind the BJP and the Shiv Sena, and ceding power to the BJP.
  16. Losing the 2014 Haryana state election disastrously, ceding power to the BJP after losing 25 of its 40 seats, and finishing in third place in the state, behind the BJP and the INLD.
  17. Losing the 2014 Jammu and Kashmir state elections, losing 5 of its 17 seats and finishing in 4th place.
  18. Losing the 2014 Jharkhand state elections, finishing in 4th place with only 6 seats.
  19. Losing the 2015 Delhi state elections, unable to win a single seat – this in a state that they had ruled for three terms under Sheila Dixit.
  20. Losing the 2016 West Bengal state elections to the TMC.
  21. Losing the 2016 Kerala state elections and ceding power to the Left Front.
  22. Losing the 2016 Assam state elections disastrously, losing 53 of their 79 seats, and ceding power to the BJP.
  23. Losing the 2017 UP state elections disastrously, losing 21 out of their 28 seats, in an alliance personally brokered by Rahul Gandhi with Akhilesh Yadav of the SP, winning only 7 seats, fewer than those won by the Apna Dal (Sonelal) faction, and finishing in 5th place.
  24. Disastrously losing the 2017 Uttarakhand state election, ceding power to the BJP, and losing 21 out of their 32 seats.
  25. Being the single largest party in the 2017 Goa state elections, but being unable to convert that to assumption of power in the state, instead allowing the BJP to form the government.

As against these monumental losses, the win column for Rahul Gandhi is fairly small:

  1. Winning the National elections in 2009 – but most analysts credit this to Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, not to Rahul Gandhi.
  2. Victory in the Manipur state elections in 2012.
  3. A narrow victory in the Uttarakhand state elections in 2012.
  4. Victory in Himachal Pradesh state elections in 2012.
  5. The win in the Karnataka state elections in 2013, which was occasioned by the split in the BJP following the corruption allegations on BS Yeddyurappa. Still, a victory is a victory.
  6. Victory in the Meghalaya state elections in 2013.
  7. Victory in the Mizoram state elections in 2013.
  8. Victory in the Arunachal Pradesh state elections in 2014 (but since then, the Congress has been unable to hold on to its MPs, who defected to the BJP’s side, causing the party to lose control of the state).
  9. Victory in the Bihar state elections in 2015 – although the Congress was a junior partner in the Mahagatbandhan of the JD (U), the RJD, and the INC, and the credit for the win probably goes to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
  10. Victory in the Puducherry state elections in 2016.
  11. Victory in the Manipur state elections in 2017.

You will note that I have not mentioned Punjab 2017, which the Congress won. But then, I have not mentioned Punjab 2012 as well, which the Congress lost. The reason is that I don’t think Rahul Gandhi is a factor in Punjab elections – the man responsible for both the loss and the win is Amarinder Singh, the current CM of Punjab. Similarly, I have not mentioned Tamil Nadu elections, because the Congress does not have a ghost of a chance there, and so that would be unfair to Rahul Gandhi.

But a quick read of the wins and losses columns makes things very clear. Most of the victories are very small, or when large states are involved, the credit goes to someone else. The losses are gigantic. Even though, numerically, one could count the items, wins in small states like Meghalaya are miniscule compared to losses in big states like UP, Uttarakhand, and Maharashtra.

The picture is clear. If things continue like this, the BJP will achieve its dream of a “Congress-mukt Bharat.” That, as I have already stated, would be disastrous.

If it were one or two losses, one could ignore what is happening. A steady stream of losses clearly points to a failure of leadership. And Rahul Gandhi has to take the blame.

In addition, Mr. Gandhi is a fairly uninspiring figure, and most of his attempts to improve his image have flopped miserably. Some examples are:

  • While other leaders speak about issues facing a state or a country, Mr. Gandhi loves to talk about his personal life or his family. Examples are: a. My mother said “power is poison.” b. “I love Tamil and Tamils. I plan to watch Tamil films.” c. “My father and grandmother were killed by terrorists.” d. “I felt my chest had been ripped open when my father died.” e. “They killed my grandmother, my father, and will probably kill me too.”
  • With all due respect to Mr. Gandhi’s feelings, the people of the state or the nation are more interested in how you will solve their problems, and Mr. Gandhi does not focus on those topics.
  • His attempt to claim that there were human bones in Bhatta Parsaul, only to be told by forensic teams that it was only animal bones there.
  • Demanding gratitude from the NDA for Congress support during the Kargil war – a tactic that backfired because support for the nation is expected of every citizen and does not need gratitude from who is ruling the country
  • Claiming that the Pakistani ISI agency was getting in touch with Muslims in Muzaffarnagar, which caused the Muslims to feel bad as they felt he was questioning their patriotism.
  • Causing a huge diplomatic row with Pakistan when he claimed that his grandmother Indira Gandhi launched the 1971 war against Pakistan to “divide Pakistan.” The statement nullified decades of Indian diplomacy, where India’s stance was that we had acted to prevent a humanitarian crisis, not to divide Pakistan.
  • Claiming that the Babri Masjid demolition would not have happened “with a Gandhi at the helm” – the Congress Party’s own PV Narasimha Rao was at the helm. This was an attempt to gain political mileage at the expense of his own party, and he seems to have conveniently forgotten that his own father, Rajiv Gandhi, was instrumental in opening the locks on the Ram Janmabhoomi when Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was the PM. Mr. Rajiv Gandhi also permitted the shilanyas at the Ram Janmabhoomi under the supervision of Union Home Minister Buta Singh.
  • Barging into the press conference of his own party, conducted by Ajay Maken, to defend the Representation of People’s Act ordinance, and then proceeding to tear the ordinance down was nothing else but grandstanding and trying to gain publicity at the expense of his own party. As the chief advisor to his mother, he had plenty of prior occasions to persuade people to change course. Instead, he chose to publicly embarrass the party and Mr. Manmohan Singh, the PM.
  • In the entire Lokpal agitation of 2011, Mr. Gandhi was missing in action, speaking just once, in Parliament, to say that the Lokpal should be a constitutional body – a fairly worthless statement at the time of the discussion. This was a great opportunity to prove his credentials as a youth leader, but he was too timid to take a stand either way.
  • Another example of a no-show was that in the mass agitation in Delhi that followed the Delhi bus gangrape, Mr. Gandhi was nowhere to be seen.
  • Mr. Gandhi was given a great opportunity at the CII conclave, but chose to give what the Wall Street Journal called a “vague and rambling” speech. The speech was panned by most analysts, not only in India, but abroad as well, and stood in stark contrast to the highly popular speech of Mr. Modi at the Shriram College just a couple of months earlier.
  • A few months back, Mr. Gandhi made dramatic statements suggesting that he had powerful evidence of Mr. Modi’s corruption, but when pressed to prove it was unable to produce anything earth-shaking, making a mockery of himself. In addition, the charges were nothing new – they had already been mentioned in the Supreme Court by Mr. Prashant Bhushan earlier.

To add to all this, Mr. Gandhi has not particularly distinguished himself by his presence in Parliament. With just 54%, his attendance in the Lok Sabha ranks among the lowest in Parliament, in sharp contrast with the national average of 87%, and the UP state average of 80%. He has only participated in 11 debates in 10 years, as against the national average of 50.6% and the UP state average of 81.9%. He has asked zero questions in Parliament, as against the national average of 199 questions and the UP state average of 129 questions. He has zero private member bills, as against the national average of 1.5 and the state average of 1.1. In other words, Mr. Gandhi has not been instrumental in raising the profile of the Congress party, whether inside Parliament or outside it.

Far from being an asset to the Congress Party, Mr. Gandhi is a significant liability. His inability to lead the party to victory, and his gift for making empty and controversial statements have made him the butt of jokes and an object of derision.

Elevating such a person to the post of President of the Party will only accelerate its descent and lead it to oblivion.

Therefore, in the interest of the nation; so that we may have a strong centrist opposition party to keep the right-wing BJP government in check, I request the leaders of the Congress Party, not only to not elevate Mr. Gandhi to the post of President of the Congress Party, but also strip him of his post as Vice-President. He has already caused enough damage to the party and its reputation. I request the party to hold an internal referendum, perhaps even an internal election, and determine who should be the leader of the party in order to overcome its current weak position.

Enough is enough. Nobody in any job in the country would be given as many chances to succeed as Mr. Gandhi has been given in the Congress Party. I implore the leaders of the Congress Party to do the right thing in the interest of the nation, and tell Mr. Gandhi to resign from his positions in the Party.

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