In the latest development, Punjab Congress leader and former finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal resigned from the Congress.
(From L-R) Jyotiraditya Scindia, Manpreet Singh Badal and Himanta Biswa Sarma.
By India Today Web Desk: Punjab Congress leader and former finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal quit the party on Wednesday and blamed its top brass for factionalism. The development came a day after Rahul Gandhi’s-led Bharat Jodo Yatra crossed Punjab yesterday and entered Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday morning.
In a letter addressed to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, Manpreet Badal wrote that a coterie of men in Delhi is running affairs in Punjab and have only increased factionalism. He resigned from the primary membership of the Congress party and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today.
Badal is only the latest in a series of top Congress leaders quitting the party, with many of them joining the BJP. If Himanta Biswa Sarma left the party in 2015, Ghulam Nabi Azad did so in September last year. And, in between, there have been many others such as Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kapil Sibal, Ashwani Kumar, RPN Singh, Jitin Prasada, Sushmita Dev, Sunil Jakhar, Hardik Patel, N Biren Singh, Prema Khandu, PC Chacko, and Jaiveer Shergill.
Ghulam Nabi Azad ended his five decades of relationship with the Congress in a five-page letter addressed to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi. Several leaders from the Congress’s Jammu & Kashmir unit also resigned to join Azad, who is set to form his own party.
Azad said Rahul Gandhi “demolished the entire consultative mechanism of the Congress” after he entered politics, particularly after he was made the party vice president by Sonia Gandhi. It is worth mentioning that Rahul has been Congress president only for two years from 2017 to 2019.
Himanta Biswa Sarma’s 1,600-word resignation letter to Sonia Gandhi in 2015 says: “Rahul Gandhi was arrogant to me and Assam Congress MLAs who wanted Tarun Gogoi’s ouster, and said it was his prerogative to change chief ministers. He believed he was mightier than the people of Assam. He is self-serving and insecure and has whimsical idiosyncrasies. My wife and I were humiliated. The party promotes despotic family politics. It betrayed the people of Assam.”
A key strategist in the then-ruling Congress in Assam and the rest of the North-East, Sarma ended his 23 years of association with the grand old party in 2015 and joined the BJP with a bunch of MLAs in tow.
This followed differences with the Congress leadership over his push for a generational shift in the state from “an inept” old-guard leader Tarun Gogoi to him. Ironically, this push had met with resistance from Rahul Gandhi, perceived to be pro-young. Sarma’s elevation was almost confirmed by Sonia Gandhi but it was reportedly red-flagged by Rahul Gandhi, even though he was still a good two years away from becoming the Congress’s national president.
The BJP started snatching northeastern states from the Congress as Sarma became the saffron party’s go-to man for the region, receiving significant attention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sarma is now Assam’s chief minister.
Sarma has now said the contents of Azad’s resignation letter were similar to his.
“I had said a time would come when only the Gandhis would be left in the Congress, and all loyalists would leave. This is what is happening. The problem in the Congress is that everybody knows Rahul Gandhi is immature, whimsical and unpredictable but the Congress president is not taking care of the party. She has been trying to promote Rahul Gandhi who is a blessing for the BJP,” Sarma said after Azad’s resignation.
Before Azad, Kapil Sibal and Ashwani Kumar also left the Congress last year. A prominent member of the G23 group of dissenting Congress leaders, Sibal frequently said that Rahul Gandhi takes all the decisions, like making Charanjit Singh Channi Punjab’s CM which also led to Sunil Jakhar’s resignation, in the Congress though he is not the president.
Bringing his 46 years of association with the Congress to an end, Ashwani Kumar had said the party had lost touch with ground realities and slammed the Gandhis for humiliating Amarinder Singh into quitting as Punjab chief minister. Making Singh’s bÃƒªte noire Navjot Singh Sidhu the Punjab Congress chief right before the state polls that the AAP swept was seen as Rahul Gandhi’s decision.
Ending his three decades of relationship with the Congress, Sibal had also said that the Gandhis should make way for new leadership.
Azad has said Rahul Gandhi showed “immaturity” in 2013 by publicly tearing an ordinance (seen as a tool to protect ally RJD’s Lalu Yadav and others) of his own party’s government at the Centre and the “childish behaviour… completely subverted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s authority” and contributed significantly to the UPA’s defeat in 2014. Rahul Gandhi was not yet party president even then.
Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the Congress in 2020 and ended his 18 years of association with the party with a short and quieter resignation letter addressed to Sonia Gandhi. A bunch of party MLAs from Kamal Nath’s government in Madhya Pradesh followed Scindia, who joined the BJP. The saffron party returned to power in Madhya Pradesh.
Though Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose father Madhavrao Scindia was also a Congress minister at the Centre, later cited Kamal Nath’s inaction on many poll promises as one of the reasons for his resignation, it was known that he was being snubbed by the Congress for a leadership role for a while. He wanted to move to Delhi but there was no clear assurance of a Rajya Sabha seat. “I wanted to serve the people of my state and country. But I could not do this anymore within this party,” he said.