Sight & sound show | The Indian Express

For all those turned skeptical about the Congress party’s ability to mobilize in the streets, the scenes from New Delhi and various state capitals on Monday may have come as a surprise – congressional cadres led by top leaders came out to protest and risk arrest due to law enforcement. The directorate’s summons to Wayanad MP, Rahul Gandhi, in the National Herald’s money laundering case. But the visual and audio presentation by Congress on Monday was also an acknowledgment: The big old party appears to be awakening from its political slumber and complacency requires a perceived insult to the leader. Among the detained leaders were several senior citizens such as Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gilot, Parliamentary Congress leaders of the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Malikarjun Karg and Adir Ranjan Chaudhry.

The spectacle leaves behind a question for Congress to answer: Is the ED notice to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi the most significant or persuasive event to launch a nation-wide mobilization, especially as the party’s silence has begun loud and clear on other issues that have given the opposition ample opportunity to target the Bharatiya Party-led government Janata – eg, failure of Nupur Sharma, illegal use of bulldozers against protesters, high inflation. In this, Congress seems to bear a resemblance to the BSP, which is otherwise a completely different party. The BSP also feels provoked to take to the streets only to protest the insults, real and imagined, of its supreme leader. Recently, Congress appears to be limiting its political responses on related issues to tweets, press conferences and seminars by Rahul Gandhi, with the exception of a state like Kerala, where its government unit has announced its ambition to become a “quasi-cadre” party.

The continuing shrinkage of Congress has consequences, not only for its political fortunes, but also for the broader space for dissent. The splinter “Congress” parties were quick to spot the opportunity and are already jostling to position themselves to claim a pivotal position in the fight against the BJP. The move by TMC Chairman Mamata Banerjee to hold a secret meeting of the opposition to discuss the impending presidential election immediately after similar outreach by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, is an illustrative move. Recent Rajya Sabha polls have revealed the inability of Congress to win friends. Against this background, the ED’s notification to Gandhis that Congress is so concerned about him is unlikely to help provide the missing glue for a fragmented opposition – at a time when it desperately needs it.

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