Predicting a bleak future for former party colleague G K Vasan, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday said the ‘fallen branch’ of a tree cannot flourish, and batted for more youth power in his own party.
In his first reaction to the churnings in Congress’ state unit that culminated in Vasan’s quitting early this month, Chidambaram said his party was a tree that had roots and can therefore withstand the present situation.
“Congress is not a barren tree. A branch has fallen off the tree, and a fallen branch cannot flourish. Only a tree can survive since it has roots,” he said in his address at the celebrations of the 125th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru here.
Effusive in his praise for Nehru, Chidambaram said the former Prime Minister lived in an era dominated by contemporaries like Mao tse Dong of China, Kamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt or Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia, but he stood out from them due to his democratic credentials.
They were authoritarian rulers or leaders who stifled opposition and never encouraged dissent and even promoted single-party rule, but Nehru was not so, Chidambaram said.
“He was determined to remain democratic though he could have become autocratic. That freedom even paved the way for someone to even declare to (work for a) Congress-free India,” the former Minister said in an apparent reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had made it a poll plank.
He however said he would not talk about the “present Prime Minister” since the occasion concerned Nehru.
Advocating youth being given increased responsibilities in Congress’ state unit, Chidambaram cited Nehru’s political career, saying he became Mayor of Allahabad at age of 29 and later the Congress chief at 40, with none in the party questioning this.
Chidambaram said if Nehru could accomplish such achievements at the such early stages of his life, other youth could also do so.
For this, youngsters should be given more positions and responsibilities in the party, especially at the district levels and the recently appointed TNCC President EVKS Elangovan should work out ways in this regard, he said.
“I don’t know when this will happen but that kind of confidence should be instilled,” he said, while suggesting that this could pave the way for the party reclaiming its old days of glory, especially in the wake of it severe drubbing in the recent elections including this year’s Parliamentary polls.
Today’s event saw the state unit coming together in a show of strength with almost all leaders of the faction-riddled state unit turning up. Some of those who spoke were critical of Vasan while others including Elangovan himself thanked him as his quitting had united the party.
Three of the five Congress MLAs–JG Prince, Gopinath and S Vijaydharini also participated in today’s event. The other two–John Jacob and NR Rangarajan, are perceived to be Vasan supporters.