Congress president Rahul Gandhi has once again created a tumult within his party by giving an absurd statement. He has said that he is in support of women of all age groups, visiting the Bhagwan Ayyappa shrine at Sabarimala temple in Kerala. This is in sharp contrast to the stand taken by the Kerala unit of Congress. While the Kerala Congress has been critical of the leftist dispensation in the state and has even openly supported the protesting devotees in the ongoing issue, its national president seems to have taken a diametrically opposite stance.
The Kerala Congress sensed the popular sentiments in the state and therefore, allied with the protesting devotees. The Congress has in the recent past tried to push the soft Hindutva narrative and joining the protesters was in sync with that narrative. The Kerala unit of the Congress had also announced at that time that the party would hold a day-long fast in Pathanamthitta to protect the customs and traditions at the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple.
However, now it seems that the Congress does not have a uniform stance on the issue. While the state unit is standing with the protesting devotees, Rahul Gandhi is standing against them. Rahul Gandhi said, “my opinion is that women are equal and should be allowed into the temple. But my party unit in Kerala has a different view. It is an emotional issue with men and women in Kerala. There’s a difference of opinion with my party unit on this but I’m going with the party,” while speaking about the Sabarimala issue in Indore. This is a confusing situation where the state unit and the national president seem to hold totally different views about the same issue. It shows the inability of the grand old party to toe a coherent line on an issue. Meanwhile, Kerala Congress working president has said that 2019 Lok Sabha polls will be Congress’ Waterloo, if it doesn’t stand with Sabarimala devotees.
This gives rise to doubts and questions. First of all, Rahul Gandhi’s view on the Sabarimala issue creates two factions within the party. One in support of the protesting Bhagwan Ayyappa devotees, taken by the state unit and the other, supporting entry of women of all ages taken by the party president. The question that now arises is with regard to the stand of the national Congress. Whether it goes by the stand taken by the state unit or the one taken by its president.
In BJP’s case, party’s national president Amit Shah stood firmly with Bhagwan Ayyappa devotees. This outlined the party’s stand on the issue. However, Rahul Gandhi has created a tumultuous situation by taking a stand which is diametrically opposite, to the one taken by Kerala Congress unit. One cannot help but wonder if its an intentional ploy by the Congress president. It is possible that the Congress does not want to irk the minority vote bank, by openly supporting the Hindu devotees and therefore the party president took such a stance, but at the same time the state unit took a totally different view in order to ensure that it can appease the enraged Hindus.
Another issue that arises out of the opposite views within the Congress, is that of Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. The way the Kerala unit of Congress has taken a view different from its national president shows that Rahul Gandhi has no control over his party leaders and cadres. Rahul Gandhi seems to be completely clueless and in no authoritative position, so Congress leaders feel free to decide for themselves without caring much about their president’s point of view. This raises direct questions on Rahul Gandhi’s credibility and leadership credentials. He seems to have no idea, as to how to marshal his troops. With the party leaders doing what they want, Rahul Gandhi has no option but to watch incessantly.
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