Congress confronts itself

Wednesday saw Kapil Sibal lashing out at Amit Shah over his ‘Gupkar gang’ remark, registering strong objection to the suggestion that the Congress wanted to take ‘J&K back to the era of terror and turmoil’. The former Union minister may have exhibited his credentials as a successful lawyer and a suave spokesperson, but the knives are out for him. One of the 23 leaders who had earlier written a letter to Sonia Gandhi seeking reforms, his demand for a fresh review after the defeat in Bihar has triggered a searing counter-attack over the public expression of disaffection. Not known to hold back punches, the Congress’ leader in the Lok Sabha suggested an exit route for the dissenters: ‘They may set up a new party or join one which they think is according to their interest.’

Sibal and the other 22 ‘letter writers’ have done precious little for the Bihar campaign or for the party as a whole other than repeating ad nauseam that the Congress is not an effective alternative. Electoral losses bear that out. He does find himself on the wrong side of the high command with remarks that if for six years the Congress has not introspected, ‘what hope do we have now?’ Frustration borne out of insignificance and inaccessibility is a common injury in the political arena. No party is immune from the dynamics of infighting. What is hurting the polity and should be of great concern to the Congress is its growing inability to inspire confidence even as the principal Opposition party, forget about being regarded as a serious substitute. Another ‘letter writer’ criticising the government for staying away from RCEP, which the Congress wanted, points to the crisis the party is staring at.

Sibal, who considers himself a poet, has been offered couplets of Bahadur Shah Zafar to make amends. The advice he has been given is to look within for flaws and be prepared for a long struggle. Sibal and his comrades would do well to make a difference in their own constituencies as an example to the rest of the party.

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