The 3 mistakes of Congress MJ Akbar Every good drama needs a few sub-plots whirling through the mainframe. The most captivating within our current political theatre is surely the joust that P Chidambaram has begun with Narendra Modi. On surface level, it is not much more than a claim for primacy between a politician who inherited wealth, English and Harvard as a birthright, and the outsider who learnt lifeâ€™s lessons in a teashop. But no story-within-a-story is worth the price of admission if it is limited to the obvious. We can never be sure what transpires within the recesses of the mind, let alone the heart. But one wonders if Chidambaram is also signalling, with his jibes and jabs, to his own party that he would have done a far better job than Rahul Gandhi if he had been made Congress candidate for prime minister. If Chidambaram does believe this, he is right. He, and indeed at least three other Congress leaders, would have ensured that Congress did not fade away mid-journey . Others have internalized the angst of legitimate ambition denied ; Chidambaram has gone vocal. Nothing is more compelling evidence than his extraordinary statement that he is â€œnot unhappyâ€ at Jayalalithaaâ€™s desire to release Rajiv Gandhiâ€™s assassins. Chidambaram was among those for whom Rajivâ€™s tragic death was a personal, in addition to being a national, loss. He has suddenly put some distance from emotional bonds with the ruling Nehru-Gandhi family. There were at least three occasions on which Congress could have signalled that the family was only part of the Congress rather than the whole of it. The first was the Presidential election of 2012. If Dr Manmohan Singh had been shifted upstairs to Rashtrapati Bhavan and Pranab Mukherjee made PM, Congress would have been in play in the general election of 2014. Mukherjee was the opponent that BJP feared most. He had experience, articulation, party commitment and would have been able to retain as well as bring in allies. The second person on BJPâ€™s worry list was Meira Kumar. She would have energized the traditional Congress base by restoring its lost links with the Dalit voter. Her pedigree is classy and classic; her father Jagjivan Ram, a veteran of the freedom movement, and defence minister during the Bangladesh war, always believed that he was best suited to become PM. Both Congress and Opposition denied him this office. Meira Kumar has history in her profile. Her personal temperament would also have been a major asset, for she is accommodating rather than confrontational ; any personal attack on her would have boomeranged . No one in Congress dared mention her name. Congress had a final opportunity after Decemberâ€™s Assembly election results, when it had become obvious even to diehard loyalists that Rahul Gandhi was the weakest link in the Congress leadership chain. With Sheila Dikshit having lost Delhi, Meira Kumar and Chidambaram were the only credible claimants still standing. But Mrs Sonia Gandhi put the fate of Congress in the trust of genes instead of ability. Congress is consequently facing not one but two potential calamities. Its leaders, like Englandâ€™s King Canute, sit on the shore and order the Modi wave to recede; and the waters remain disobedient. The second is an internal earthquake within the party as a generation gloomily contemplates what will be, in effect, its last election. This is, broadly, the age-group of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, plus or minus a few years on either side. Even if a few of them return to the House, they will not return to power. Rahul Gandhi will reshape Congress in his own style. This is as it should be. He has already begun to blood a fresh set of people in his own age bandwidth for the tough years ahead. Digvijay Singh might want to believe that he will continue as mentor , but soon enough it is Digvijayâ€™s son who will step out and step up. The same could be said of Chidambaramâ€™s son, of course, but a sonâ€™s future is scant consolation for a father whose political hormones are still in search of ambitionâ€™s destination. Age is relative. What options do Congress leaders who were young in 2013 but will become old in 2014 have? A split will be both predictable and desultory. The sensible choice is to fade into the sunset, but it is the rare politician who is tired enough to retire. But as they stare at the perhaps empty years ahead, they might reflect on a couplet by the great Persian philosopher-poet Hafez: Boast not of knowledge, for at the time of death/Aristotle and beggar walk side by side. The 3 mistakes of Congress by The Siege Within : MJ Akbar's blog-The Times Of India ********************************************** There is no doubt that had there been some other Congress honcho leading the Party, it would be s credible contender to the seat of the Delhi Sultanate. But then it is in the interest of promoting the hereditary succession that is a paramount concern of the Nehru Gandhi Inc lest the skeletons tumble out uncontrollably. A credible shouting down brigade is essential to obfuscate the reality through legal and political din! Mr Q still haunts the Indian memory shrouded in baffling mystery. Had the reins been handed over as the PM to Pranab Mukherjee, who is a man of his own votary, the grip over the Congress Party would have faded faster than a freak lightning. He was so 'feared' that, though the No2 in the Cabinet, he was not anointed as the Officiating PM, when the PM was unwell and out of office, and instead both Pranab M and Anthony were projected as Stand Ins. Chidambaram also could not be trusted. He is too ambitious and a grand standing master for comfort, apart from being a master slim customer. Meira Kumari, is too docile and does not have a grip over the situation, but would surely flood the Congress with her compatriots, much to the discomfort of the current lobby that is close to the Gandhi clan. Therefore, the choice was limited and only the trusty genes are par for the course to steer the sinking ship! And yet, even if the Congress gets decimated, it is to the Gandhi clan's advantage. The rats will desert the sinking ship, as they did when the Congress split earlier. It will give the Crown Prince the necessary space to resurrect the Party to his liking and construct.