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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2734

Congress in troubled waters

By J N Raina - Syndicate Features

The trouble with the Grand Old Party, Congress, is it does not learn from its past mistakes. As a result, it has become sluggish and its top leaders are living in ivory towers. What was once considered invincible has become invidious to masses. Gone are the days when it was a monolith, full of vigour.

To get down to brass tacks, the Congress debacle in Gujarat and now in Himachal Pradesh is a matter of national concern. After Gujarat, Congress has got a drubbing in Himachal, where the people’s verdict has gone in favour of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). It is for the first time that BJP has formed government on its own strength, sending shivers down the spine of the Congress. The Congress had earlier lost in Punjab and Uttarakhand.

The leadership quality of the historic Congress party has deteriorated. Top-rank leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, should have owned moral responsibility for the fiasco in Gujarat, and offered to step down from the high pedestal, instead of apportioning blame on the BJP rebels, on whom the Congress high command had been banking upon. Partly, the blame was put on Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a non-entity in Gujarat, for the Congress’s defeat.

Sonia Gandhi, who is no doubt an asset for the Congress, should have offered to resign, or even feigned to resign, for it is she who had launched an aggressive campaign in Gujarat, describing Chief Minister as “maut ka saudagar”. However, such ‘vulgar’ campaigning boomeranged on her party. She must keep away from behind-the scene ‘advisors’ who might have goaded her to take certain wrong steps, inimical to Congress’s interest.

At a high level meeting, convened soon after the party’s debacle in Gujarat, most of the Congress leaders pointed out that ‘over-dependence’ on BJP rebels might have ‘spoilt’ its chances in Saurashtra, which was considered a bastion of former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel. While continuing to occupy the top slot in the BJP, Keshubhai rebelled against his own party and dubbed Narendra Modi as ‘Ravana’, acting himself as Ravana’s brother Vibhishana. The Congress believed that he would snatch BJP votes and transfer these on a platter to the Congress basket.

Alas! It did not happen; and ironically enough, Sonia Gandhi has been absolved of the blame. Instead, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Chief Bharatsinh Solanki and AICC General Secretary B K Hari Prasad, who is in charge of Gujarat, took the sole responsibility for the ‘miscarriage’. Or they might have been directed to do so. But they were a ‘mismatch’ for firebrand Modi.

While Modi generally talked about ‘Gujarat pride’, Sonia Gandhi directly launched hate campaign against him, the BJP and the Hindus. Obviously, there was harsh reaction. Had Sonia Gandhi been an astute politician, she should have refrained from speaking in un-parliamentary language.

The electorate cannot be taken for granted. Rebels could not be expected to change their loyalty overnight. Their mindset will remain unchanged. Several BJP rebels, who were fielded by the Congress, lost the battle. The Congress was punished because of its hypocrisy. It sought to play on the caste-based politics—instead of fighting against the age-old ugly system—but failed.

The Congress is bogged down by dynastic problem. It lacks inner party democracy, an essential ingredient for a healthy democracy. Its growth has retarded because of leadership crisis, although there is no dearth of leaders. Honest, dedicated and experienced leaders are being relegated to the background and neglected.

The dynastic or call it ‘hereditary rule’ is preferred by the Congress. Rahul Gandhi, the icon of the Nehru-Gandhi family, is given preference to stalwarts like Pranab Mukherjee. Countrymen are tired of such politics. If the trend continues, there will be no difference between autocracy and democracy.

Rahul Gandhi’s capacity to govern is no secret now. He is a novice. He is being eulogized as a top-ranking leader. This is how a party is being destroyed. People no doubt have great affection for him, because his father was assassinated a t a young age. It will take time for Rahul to understand the dynamics of politics. Politics should not be thrust upon him. He will pickup the tricks of the ‘trade’ slowly.

But grooming him as Prime Minister out of turn is a bad precedence for a healthy democracy. By grooming him as PM, we are risking his life. He is already on the hit list of jihadi elements including Jaish-e-Mohammad, based in Pakistan. Three suicide bombers were recently arrested in UP while on a mission to kidnap him and create chaos in India.

One of the main reasons for the defeat of the Congress in Gujarat and Himachal can be attributed to the fact that Lord Ram’s ‘existence’ was questioned by the Congress led UPA Government. In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the UPA government blundered immeasurably, shocking the nation. The Congress pleaded that Ram did not exist. The issue was raised in connection with the Ramsethu.

The Congress, in fact, wanted to please the DMK chief M Karunanidhi, who made a loud noise about Ram, challenging the very existence of Him. Only recently, when Nandigram issue came to the fore, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee made similar remarks. These comments have hit the Congress and irked the electorate.

The Congress has failed to revive itself at the grass root level. Instead, it has been leaning heavily on regional parties and the Left Front just to remain in power and keep at bay the BJP. The Congress has to be unbigoted. It has to be vibrant.

Some learned scholars and intellectuals have suggested for a sort of coalition between the Congress and the BJP, two mainstream parties, with a ‘common agenda’. This theory is quite erroneous and absurd and needed to be rejected. It was experimented in Jammu and Kashmir in 1987 when the Pradesh Congress and the National Conference formed a coalition Government, under the leadership of Farooq Abdullah. It was a monumental blunder made by Rajiv Gandhi. The coalition led to a vacuum in the absence of a strong opposition. With the result the Muslim fundamentalists---28 conglomerates---joined together to form ‘the Muslim United Front’ and it subsequently resulted in growing terrorism.

If the two mainstream national parties, the Congress and the BJP form a coalition government, a vacuum will be created and the opposition benches will get occupied by ‘negative’ forces. The opposition in Parliament has to be strong enough to voice the problems of the masses.

“The Left is more obsessed with anti-Americanism”, says Meghanad Desai, Member of House of Lords. The Communist ideology has been rejected by the Indians’ by and large. But without even forging an alliance, there can be a ‘Common Minimum Understanding’ as suggested by Desai, for the purpose of ‘security, economic growth and efficiency’. If it happens, a lot of time wasted in unnecessary debate can be saved. There can be confidence-building steps between the two parties when vitals issues are at stake.

- Syndicate Features -

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