In light of the current political scenario in Rajasthan and the suspension of Sanjay Jha from the Congress for "anti-party activities and breach of discipline", The Logical Indian reached out to him.
Q1. What's happening in Rajasthan, Is it symptomatic of what the Congress party has become today? Does the party not want dissenting voices to flourish and people who speak against their own administration to go on and continue in the party.
Ans1. The character of any political organisation is determined by how they regroup and fight back. As a result, there has been tremendous demoralisation of Congress workers simply because of the fact that they have not engineered a movement to make a spectacular comeback.
Q2. You wrote against the Congress party, and paid a price for it. Is it something that you expected or thought that this is the party I gave my life to and would be sacked as, first, the Congress spokesperson and then from the party itself.
Ans2. I never wrote anything exactly against the party. I simply highlighted that the grand old party needs a reinvention, a renewal, a resuscitation which is a view shared by some of the most prominent leaders in the party and definitely many Congress supporters all over the country. I was definitely disappointed by the downright rude manner in which I was backed off. For me, to discover on television that I have been terminated was a monumental joke as the first thing in any democracy is to inform and ask the person to justify his or her actions.
Q3. Talking about the rut and democracy in the Congress Party, the whole facade about it being a very democratic party and asking opposition parties to follow suit after unceremonious sacking of Sachin Pilot and yourself, including Priyanka Chaturvedi, some said these were the young guns who stood up for the party.
Ans3. The fact that so many established politicians with tremendous experience are being forced to keep quiet is something I cannot quite fathom.
Q4. Who are the existing people in the party you can bank on at the moment?
Ans4. I feel that no one can write of the Congress party but I am concerned about the lack of buzz in the party as Congress has become very atrophied. The energy and the kinetic outburst is missing. A political organisation needs to be buzzing all the time. There are workers in UP, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu who still stand by the party yet we have eroded the goodwill, we have taken it for granted and that's what somewhere angers me. How is the Congress Party losing election after election and not huddling up together to say 'What's a new way forward? What can we change and move forward?'
Q5. In 2019, we saw Rahul Gandhi stepping down saying that Congress needs a different party president.
Ans5. I thought Rahul Gandhi opened a window for change when he resigned and said that no Gandhi family member will return as the party president. This would have gotten rid of the party's entire dynastic baggage that the BJP targets, yet a year has gone and the Congress doesn't have a president on a permanent basis. Mrs Gandhi is only an interim president and the interim is now becoming permanent which is another monumental farset we are creating. I would have loved to see Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya, Dr Shashi Tharoor or Mr Chidambaram could have thrown their hat in the ring but we have not allowed that to happen.
Now that there are rumours that Mr Gandhi is coming back, the media and the people have the right to question him, does the party have no potential leader or candidate?
Q6. There are a number of people who sympathise with Sachin Pilot. What right approach could have been adopted to avoid all this drama in Rajasthan.
Ans6. The solution to this problem was quite easy. Sachin Pilot should have been given a chance to demonstrate his leadership and win Rajasthan in 2023, Mr Gehlot who is in his third term of chief ministership and has extraordinary political experience should have been appointed to work on the weak states of the party like Bihar and UP and revive the party and somebody else could have been appointed as the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee Chief. This would have avoided any internal drama. So there would have been 3 major changes.
Q7. If not Rahul Gandhi, then who?
Ans7. The Congress party has so many assets out there with great experience and political passion. I do believe that Sachin and Shashi Tharoor will make great candidates. The party should invite people. If people are given a chance, someone will rise and deliver. The time has come for a non Gandhi political leader to take the Congress forward.
Q8. You mentioned somewhere that Congress is its own biggest enemy, what did you mean by that?
Ans8. In Rajasthan, for example we are playing politics in a state where we are in power. BJP and other parties cannot be blamed for that. The current situation in Rajasthan is terrible news for the party. How will the people of India take Congress seriously if this is a party which has given away Karnataka, MP, destabilizing its own state and allowing 2 of its most prominent leaders to get into loggerheads in Rajasthan. This is what I mean when I say that the Congress Party's internal 'bickerance' is its own enemy .
Q9. This way, isn't BJP going the right way, a powerful leader at the centre so no bickering and no internal mutiny. Do you now agree with the BJP way of functioning?
Ans9. Both the parties have a centralised command at the moment but only one of them is responding to its people even if it makes its own call. Mr Modi and Shah run the party but they listen to their own people, but in Congress our voices are not being heard.
Q10. Couldn't these concerns about the party's functioning be raised internally by you?
Ans10. I would have raised my concerns internally but there are no internal forums to do so. If there were, he would never have written articles in TOI. In Congress, no one is listening, no one is responding and clearly we've created these artificial walls.
'A Congressi by DNA, I strongly believe that no one can write off the Congress party and I hope the party retains its core fiber,' Sanjay Jha told The Logical Indian.