Congress biggies swear unity, workers raise slogans for satraps

BHOPAL: Out of power for three terms in the state, Congress central leaders are publicly denying factionalism in the party and vowing to contest assembly elections 2018 unitedly. But even as leaders shared food from the same plate in a PCC dinner party on Wednesday and held hands on the dais during Thursday’s agitation, workers’ indiscipline remains the Congress party’s main challenge.

While leaders maybe showing signs of unity, Congress workers from different factions are still raising slogans for their own respective bosses. In this week’s assembly ‘gherao’ agitations against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, leaders had to plead workers with folded hands to behave themselves. Not once, but several times MP from Guna and Congress’ chief whip in the Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia was seen appealing to workers during the demonstration. “Haath jor ke niwedan kar raha hoon, kripa karke baith jaiye (with folded hands I am appealing to you, please sit down),” Scindia said.

The sound of “Kamal Nath zindabad” was trying to drown “Arun Yadav zindabad” and “Jyotiraditya Scindia zindabad” definitely suppressing all other slogans. Leaders kept appealing to workers saying, “This is your programme, maintain discipline.” But no one was listening. They climbed chairs and poles of the pandals shouting slogans in favour of former Union minister Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and PCC chief Arun Yadav – workers of each faction trying to drown the voice of another. Yadav, tired of his supporters’ yelling in the middle of his speech, said, “Please be silent. Enough, enough. Those raising slogans, please stop.”

Party stalwarts were addressing the crowd, but workers were restless waving the Congress tri-colour, sometimes beating drums, climbing on poles and chairs while shouting slogans. Finally, Scindia again got up and took the loudspeaker. “Kamal Nathji has heard you, I have heard you. Now, please sit down,” he said. When even this did not work, Scindia started identifying workers by their clothes, “One wearing the red shirt, please sit down. Yellow shirt, blue shirt please sit down. The person wearing cap with Arun Yadav’s picture, please sit down.”

But old habits die hard. In a faction-ridden party where workers categorise themselves with leaders, it is hard to maintain discipline. Congress in Madhya Pradesh is a party where a worker identifies himself first as Digvijaya Singh’s man or Kamal Nath’s man and later as a party activist. When former Union minister Kamal Nath argues, “I want to make it clear there are no differences and there are no factions in the party,” the worker still does not understand the language of unity.

While Congress battles to keep unity in the ranks, the BJP being a cadre based party also has its leaders talking to workers who are nothing short of a discipline force. In BJP meets, leaders appeal to workers as, “Devdurlabh karikarta (workers more precious than the gods)”. As leaders unite to fight the might of the ruling BJP, workers from the Congress too need to take a few lessons from their counterparts in the saffron party.