Managing Political Ambitions: the dilemmas


By Jan Arden

For those who are not aware of events in India, there were two recent storylines around the Indian National Congress (INC). The first, a nationwide march termed Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi and the second an announced election of a party president who would not be a Gandhi.

Some observers have wondered whether the grand old party, increasingly a family affair, has the credibility and wherewithal to manage its own dynamics of raw ambitions, aspirations and impatience of younger faces, prodded by Rahul Gandhi himself… Pic – Reuters

While Rahul Gandhi pursues his brisk walk-about starting in the Indian south, he might have hoped for reminiscences of the Mahatma in colonial times who was determined to find the soul of the real India before laying out the platform and strategy to oust the powerful British empire, its monarch and its military. Much to Rahul’s chagrin, the parallel events around the announced historic election of a new non-Gandhi INC President have conspired to throw such a laudable, laughable say his critics, spin exercise as his nationwide march Bharat Jodo Yatra horribly out of step. They threatened to run rapidly out of control unless immediate steps were taken to halt the gaping cracks in Rajasthan, one of the remaining two states under INC control, as Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, a long-time first-family loyalist was announced as candidate with the seeming blessing of Sonia Gandhi, front-runner and even as winner of the internal election scheduled for October 17th.

The hic was that Rahul Gandhi insisted that Ashok Gehlot would have to resign his Rajasthan CM post, a thing he was most unwilling to do: when push comes to shove, Gehlot knew that a CM post enjoys far greater power locally than any party presidency in Delhi, where real power would lay with the Gandhis. Public media, the press and astute observers will have been hot on the raging controversies over the brewing storm which neither Rahul, nor current party President Sonia Gandhi, nor top-level INC leaders knew how to manage.

As of yesterday, after several days of confusion, Gehlot has backed out of the party presidency race, leaving the scene to Shashi Tharoor, Digvijaya Singh and possible others. Observers brought up memories of the ghastly Gandhi-managed disaster in Punjab with the unceremonious ouster of Capt Amarinder Singh or the recent exit of disappointed J&K representative Gulab Nabi Azam, both long-standing servants of the INC. Matters were now compounded by the repercussions from the unresolved presidency confusion hitting the headlines since last week.

Some observers have wondered whether the grand old party, increasingly a family affair, has the credibility and wherewithal to manage its own dynamics of raw ambitions, aspirations and impatience of younger faces, prodded by Rahul himself to challenge the loyalist old guard faces like Ashok Gehlot, Capt. Amarindar and Digvijaya Singh.

* * *

Labour Party’s delicate test

Any political party operating in a democratic context would be gratified to have ambitious and competent loyalists in its ranks and upper echelons provided it has adequate mechanisms or processes and the political savviness to manage legitimate aspirations and ambitions in the internal dynamics of its house. Locally, the Labour Party has been facing such a delicate test of the internal strengths of wise leadership and their collective ability to manage diverse ambitions in a manner that neither derails the party nor detracts from the larger objective of getting back to power on a revisited platform of change.

The constitution of the new Executive and election of the new enlarged Politburo, have opened doors to a rejuvenation of cadres and activists, a popular demand from many quarters, while doing its best compromise to cater for loyalists with clearly recognised past contributions to the party and the country. While few of us have a crystal ball, if Arvin Boolell has recognised that Navin Ramgoolam remains best placed to lead the party or any Opposition alliance to the next battle and that the latter is also fully cognizant of the necessity to prepare the transition to new tomorrows for the country’s oldest party, outsiders and sympathisers may feel there is enough leeway for the way forward to be agreed upon, while legitimate ambitions and responsibilities of several loyal and competent cadres are catered for.

With the MMM, the pre-2019 departure of several party loyalists to the perceived greener shores as adjuncts to the ruling MSM, has to some extent simplified the leadership succession question – there is none on the cards – without really resolving Paul Berenger’s future role in the future general elections as he looks embroiled in various scenarios and alternative plans. Bargaining hard for the best party deal has been his trademark, but when trapped in a downward slide that no longer makes the MMM a force “incontournable”, he faces an uphill task despite the company of Nando Bodha, a long-time servant of the MSM and the Sun Trust.

If the conjunction fails to arouse or enthuse the public, there are grounds to assume that option may be ditched or at best, integrated within the party negotiations towards an Alliance. At the end of the day, Mr Berenger’s eye for history and his optics for safeguarding the future of the MMM will determine whether a full-fledged working alliance of all Opposition parties and voices will be resurrected. In short, he has his own best enemy to manage, himself. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 30 September 2022

An Appeal

Dear Reader

65 years ago Mauritius Times was founded with a resolve to fight for justice and fairness and the advancement of the public good. It has never deviated from this principle no matter how daunting the challenges and how costly the price it has had to pay at different times of our history.

With print journalism struggling to keep afloat due to falling advertising revenues and the wide availability of free sources of information, it is crucially important for the Mauritius Times to survive and prosper. We can only continue doing it with the support of our readers.

The best way you can support our efforts is to take a subscription or by making a recurring donation through a Standing Order to our non-profit Foundation.
Thank you.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *