Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Congress in comatose!

Congress party was founded in 1885 (132 years ago) with the objective of achieving independence from British. After return of Gandhi from South Africa in 1914 he joined Congress and especially after 1920, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Congress became the principal leader of the Indian independence movement, with over 15 million members and over 70 million participants. Thereafter Gandhi was Congress and Congress was Gandhi, till his death in 1948. In independent India, since 1947, Congress ruled all the way till 2014, for 55 of 67 years excepting few brief spells 12 years.

  • Today, it is clear that as a national force Congress is in comatose, if not dead. Its brand is severely damaged and carries very little that is positive. And it has no real political message for its small base of voters.
  • During Gandhi & Nehru era, Congress was largely democratic, secular, ethical, patriotic, tolerant, despite no alternative forces. Today it is saddled with selfish, corrupt, opportunistic, unethical wheeler-dealers.
  • During Indira Gandhi regime and with Sanjay Gandhi’s entry into politics some four decades ago, the party has increasingly been organised and unified not by any discernible ideology or political program but by the dynastic principle. 
  • The Janata Party which defeated Indira Gandhi in 1977 was a patchwork coalition of regional parties. The Janata Party formed with socialist and anti-Congress ideology during the emergency and lost relevance soon after. 
  • Its constituents tried to keep the anti Congressism alive through the Janata Dal but that was an insufficient glue and it fractured into several versions of the party.
  • LK Advani changed Indian politics with the Ram Janambhoomi movement in 1992. The anti Congress impulse of the Janata Party's fragments became an anti Hindutva impulse. 
  • Under Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress stopped standing for anything much. It did not have any real ideology and this continued under P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. 
  • One of the lessons of India’s post-Independence politics is that dynasticism in parties is an incurable disease. 
  • Once a party has traded ideology for family rule, there is no turning back. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Shiromani Akali Dal were once deeply ideological and broadly meritocratic. But they are now family firms. Similarly, the Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party and Telangana Rashtra Samithi were not founded as family parties, but now are organised as such and will remain so.
  • The best that can be said about this version of the Congress is that, unlike most other Indian parties, it has never really regarded any group of Indians as enemies. Every one, in the right circumstances, is a potential Congress voter. But a party that can stand for anything is quite likely to stand for nothing, and this form of pluralism usually means grubby cynicism.
  • The party will bumble along because being family owned there is no accountability. It is possible that the Congress may be revived under another leader. But Rahul Gandhi has a few more decades of activity ahead of him. This will work to the disadvantage of the party as it fades nationally into irrelevance.
  • Both the Country and Congress have given plenty of opportunities to prove his leadership to Rahul Gandhi. He has flunked each of these big tests, turned into a subject of mirth, ridicule and voter apathy. For the sake of his own legacy, he should leave Congress alone.
  • India still needs the Congress, the party that led the Independence movement and, in some form, has governed the Centre for 55 of our 69 years as a nation-state. The ideology that Congress represent is centrist liberal will always be there. 
  • Votes swing like a pendulum from left to right, but it always settles around the centre. Congress was written off in 1977, when it was wiped off from the entire northern part of the country, winning just 8 or 9 seats (though it made a strong showing in the southern states). Three years later it came back with a huge majority. It was again written off in 1989 and then in 1996. 
  • In 1998, many people said that the BJP yug has started and it will rule for the next 30-40 years. But Congress resurrected in 2004. Unfortunately this time now in 2017, Congress lacked credible and visionary leader.
  • But Congress still has a chance. Punjab results have shown that dormant Congress supporters will back the party if it presents a credible leader like Amarender Singh. They will consider Congress as an option against BJP, if alternate is not Rahul. 
  • The issue of demonetisation created a sharp political divide and provided the Congress the much needed opportunity not only in stopping the saffron juggernaut but also in reversing its losing streak and making a political u-turn, but Congress failed to encash.
  • The Congress registered a consolation win in Punjab and emerged as the largest party in Manipur and Goa, in terms of seats, but lost the opportunity to form the government largely due to poor negotiations by the party’s state interlocutors and the flip flop by its national leadership.
  • In many states and country there is rising discontent against BJP and Modi. Yet BJP is returning due to this discredit of Rahul Gandhi and his Congress.
The Congress party at present does not have a strong leader and workable structure and its ideological agenda of leftist-welfarist policies for the poor has been hijacked by the BJP which it is using cleverly to position itself as the single dominant party in Indian politics. The Congress needs to rewrite its ideological agenda and open the entry gates of the party for people with rightist views within its broad spectrum of secular politics and revive itself by rebuilding the party organisation by repopulating its cadres with foot soldiers and flag bearers at the grassroots level and setting up realistic goals to do a political rebound in the distant future. Otherwise it will get marginalized into oblivion.

    My View:
    Since 2014, Modi & BJP having higher success rate in direct races with Congress than when it faces off against regional parties indicates that it is trouncing of Congress rather than its victory. Phenomenal rise in political parties operational costs, dominant role of money & caste in winning elections have paved way for entry of hooligans into politics in the disguise of businessmen and industrialists. Today majority of legislatures are occupied by these anti social elements. Congress is worst effected with no good person in sight among its cadres. Inner party democracy had vanished and centralized decision making by 'high command' is also undemocratic and anti-national. Money rules every where. Unless the situation is reversed, Congress party has no future. And reality is it won't change so easily and is destined to vanish in near future.

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