Ahead of the forthcoming elections in Hindi-speaking states of northern India, the country's main opposition party - Congress - is scrambling to keep their cadres together.
The party's general secretary in West Bengal, Rohan S Mitra, on Wednesday resigned from his post after blaming his departure on state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. In his resignation letter, he wrote: "The sycophants surrounding you have not only brought your downfall but also led to the ultimate downfall of the party in the state with no visible signs of revival in the near future."
My reasons are clear, I don’t want to be fake, I continue to be a loyal volunteer of the @INCIndia— Rohan S Mitra (@rohansmitra) July 14, 2021
Mitra's resignation comes days after Abhijit Mukherjee, the son of former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee and a prominent Congress leader, switched sides to join Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC). Disgruntled members from West Bengal have consistently called for the state's party chief Chowdhury to be stripped of his position.
Sources earlier this week confirmed to Sputnik that Chowdhury will be asked to step down from his position as leader of Congress in the Lower House of the Parliament.
The rift in the party's Punjab unit too has widened with two leaders - Navjot Singh Sidhu and Captain Amarinder Singh - casting covetous eyes at the nomination to become state chief ahead of the assembly elections scheduled in the first quarter of next year. Amid the infighting, Congress' upper-caste face in Uttar Pradesh - Jitin Prasada - quit the party before the state assembly elections.
Diagnosing a leadership crisis, members of Congress have pointed the finger of blame at the Gandhi family which allegedly controls the party. Since Rahul Gandhi stepped down as party chief after the debacle in the 2019 general elections, there have been several pleas to conduct inter-party elections to choose a party chief.
"(Rahul Gandhi) has to take over as party chief - there is no other way. We respect Sonia Gandhi and her decisions but she trusts very few people. Rahul is more open to ideas. The infighting in states is because the top leadership has failed to come up with solutions," a Congress member from West Bengal told Sputnik.
The Congress suffered a humiliating defeat in four recently held state elections, especially in West Bengal where the party failed to secure a single seat. In the post mortem held after the elections, a lack of funds and faulty state leadership was blamed for the poor performance.
The party's income decreased by more than $26 million from the year 2018-2019 to 2019-2020, according to the audit report last month. "The lack of funds hindered the campaign outreach project during the elections. When Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders were travelling to poll-bound states every day in helicopters, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was using the party's resources as his personal property," a Pradesh Congress Committee member said.