Sacrifice is a big theme in the Congress party. The Nehru-Gandhi family has borne the assassinations of their near and dear and they place a big premium on Congressmen who are killed in the line of duty.
The death of about a dozen or so Congressmen in Chhattisgarh - in a military-like Maoist ambush – is a big moment in Congress history. But the party has trouble building on such key moments.
It has not known what to do after someone from their ranks has been killed at work.
The Beant Singh assassination is a significant instance. He was killed in the Punjab government secretariat complex in 1995 after he had been chief minister for three years.
The Congress responded by making Beant Singh’s children ministers in two of their governments. Beant Singh’s grandchildren too were given MP and MLA tickets, and both won. Ravneet is still a Lok Sabha member.
But none of them is a leader. Today, Beant Singh’s name means little in Punjab.
Rahul Gandhi has responded well so far to the Chhattisgarh massacre. He’s been there on the ground. He’s become one with his people.
This, though, can be ephemeral.
If I were Rahul Gandhi, this is what I’d do to show the Congress means business and that it works for India.
Image: Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi (left), Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi (second from left) and other senior Congress party leaders attend a prayer meeting for Congress leaders and persons killed in a Maoist attack in Chhatisgarh, during a ceremony at Congress Party Headquarters in New Delhi on May 27, 2013.