Vinash Kale Viprit Buddhi.
That wise saying, used by Jayaprakash Narayan against Indira Gandhi while launching his Total Revolution campaign which eventually led to the fall of the mighty prime minister in 1977, came to mind seeing the way the Congress bosses booted out Captain Amarinder Singh.
The former maharaja of Patiala was cast aside as chief minister as they would a fly from a glass of milk.
His sense of dignity and self-respect badly mauled, the good captain has now sworn revenge.
And revenge he will exact from a party he had led with great aplomb until the Gandhi siblings stepped in and, in order to show who was the boss, flung him aside, replacing him with a lightweight.
But the Raja first. By all reckoning he was the tallest leader around in the state. And stood a good chance to retain power in the next year’s assembly poll.
Neither Sukhbir Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal nor anyone in the Aam Aadmi Party enjoyed such goodwill cutting across all sections.
As the captain himself said, he would have liked to step aside and hand over the reins to a younger leader after the assembly poll.
By virtually dragging him out in a nocturnal coup, the party humiliated him.
He would not forgive this hurt easily.
What till the other day looked like an election for the Congress to lose has now become wide open.
Psephologists predict a hung House with AAP at number one but well short of the half-way mark.
All this due to the hubris of the Gandhi siblings.
In order to belatedly show that they are in command, that theirs is the last word in the party, Rahul and Priyanka mercilessly wielded the big axe against the well-settled captain.
And in full public view.
The Gandhis’ putative candidate for chief minister was Navjot Singh Sidhu (this column was written before Sidhu’s sudden resignation as Punjab Congress Committee president on September 28, 2021).
Sidhu has shown little evidence of hard grassroots work.
Even his much-vaunted public speaking is largely rehearsed, with the former television funster interchanging personalities to repeat the same old hackneyed jokes.
But it is not the fate of Sidhu or even the captain that should overly concern us.
The greater danger lies in what might come from the sudden bout of activism by the Gandhi siblings.
The abrupt change in Punjab a few months ahead of the crucial assembly poll bore the hallmark of the inexperience and cluelessness of the Gandhi siblings.
By wielding the big stick they were in quest of the elusive grip over the party which they had been persuaded to believe was an integral part of the family inheritance.
A widely respected captain was dumped without being extended the common courtesy of prior consultation.
A willing and valuable ally was overnight converted into a bitter foe due to the immaturity of the party leadership.
Now, after Punjab, the bumbling duo has moved to Rajasthan.
The simmering dispute between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot is sought to be resolved by a diktat from Delhi.
Here again, any solution that leaves both Gehlot and Pilot equally resentful is bound to harm the party rather than create harmony and cohesion in government and legislative group.
From Rajasthan the Gandhis can move to Chhattisgarh where Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is locked in a fight-to-finish with Health Minister Singh Deo.
Baghel is refusing to to step down as per the agreement at the time of the last election which spoke of the two becoming chief minister by turns for half of the five-year term.
How the Gandhis can settle this dispute is not unclear.
But should anyone think by forcing out a senior leader like Amarinder Singh the Gandhis have become leaders in their own right, and silenced the Group of 23, they should think again.
An ill-executed Punjab operation does not make Rahul Gandhi the darling of party cadres.
On the contrary, it has only enforced his image as a novice at the ripe old age of 51, lacking maturity.
The idea that the captain was too independent — and therefore had to be shown the door — was most idiotic.
At a time when the Gandhis had ceased to be vote-getters, the Congress needed more leaders like Amarinder Singh who at least commanded the trust of the people in their respective states.
By replacing them with sycophants and time-servers they push the party down the path of irrelevance and ignominy.
Modi can effect drastic change at the snap of his little finger in Gujarat only because he is able to win elections for the party.
The day he ceases to be popular, the same BJP would turn its back on him.
Like Indira Gandhi in her hey day, Modi is the master of the political landscape.
Not even the closest friends of the Gandhis would claim that Indira Gandhi’s grandchildren possess an iota of her charisma.