Sunday, October 2nd, 2022 16:12:31

Miscarriages in Congress camp

By Nilabh Krishna
Updated: October 18, 2021 1:09 am

The Indian National Congress: the traditional party of the national bourgeoisie with roots going back to the anti-colonial struggles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For decades after formal independence in 1947, Congress completely dominated the Indian political stage at the national and state levels. Until it was ousted in 1996, the party had held office continuously at the national level with the exception of two three-year terms. Today, the party is shadow of its former self. Its claims to stand for the interests of the masses are in tatters and its bases of support are rapidly dwindling.

Politics is not a T-20 cricket game where you hire an ideologue and he would give you victory. It is a vocation of patience and perseverance. You have to work from the bottom of the pyramid and build your organisation block by block. It seems the grand old party of India; Congress has forgotten these words of wisdom in politics. It’s in a hurry, and what for- its doom. In a typical Congress style Kanhaiya Kumar and Jignesh Mewani joined the Congress on 28 September the day Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned as State President of Punjab BJP. While Sidhu said he would not do a compromise, the overall message of the newcomer was quite the contrary.

“The collapse of a man’s character stems from the compromise corner, I can never compromise on Punjab’s future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab”. The case of Kanhaiya

 

and Mewani was quite the contrary. For them, a compromise was the

reason for joining the party and a

way to save Congress from becoming a sinking ship.

Both the young turks were shamelessly justifying their misdeed publicly and were under the belief that people would not see through their game plan. Both the newcomers were under impression that youths of the country would follow them. How can youths of the country side with people who are identified with tukde tukde gang and the Bhima Koregaon incident that led to caste riots? Youths of the country would never get fascinated with such opportunists.

Mewani’s role in the Bhima Koregaon case is questionable. No amount of political clout would exonerate him unless he gets cleared by the Court. And the person who claims to be a follower of Dr BR Ambedkar has joined a party that created roadblocks on the political aspirations of Babasaheb. Navjot Singh Sidhu was supposed to be the real power centre in Punjab since Charanjit Singh Channi new job came because of Sidhu’s revolt. Had it not been Captain Amarinder Singh’s strong objections, he would have become the chief minister. Channi decided not to play puppet or show that he was a stop-gap arrangement. After all, he is a Dalit and a leader in his own right. The showdown was done in key appointments.

Sidhu who was to lead the Punjab Congress and add his charisma to the campaign was clearly sidelined. Hence, the resignation is not a sacrifice but an attempt to ensure that none other than him gets the Congress legacy after Amarinder Singh.

The crucial issue is whether he had the backing from someone from the Gandhi family. He cannot go beyond a point without such backing. The way a compromise is being worked out instead of reprimand or suspension, it seems the experiment in Punjab Congress with Sidhu in the lead would continue. Both Channi and Sidhu would be puppets of Rahul Gandhi now and he can pitch one against the other.

The Indian National Congress: the traditional party of the national bourgeoisie with roots going back to the anti-colonial struggles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For decades after formal independence in 1947, Congress completely dominated the Indian political stage at the national and state levels. Until it was ousted in 1996, the party had held office continuously at the national level with the exception of two three-year terms. Today, the party is shadow of its former self. Its claims to stand for the interests of the masses are in tatters and its bases of support are rapidly dwindling.

Much of Congress’ dominance at the center as well as the state level was due to the fact that people voted in the name of Congress, which had won freedom for the country. People felt almost indebted to the party and continued to bring them back to power in the hope that Swarajya (self-rule) would actually be realised on the ground and the days of Ram Rajya (the idyllic rule of Rama), which Gandhi used to mention in his speeches and writings, would come.

People waited for years, but neither Swarajya nor Ram Rajya came about. Instead, the people realised, nepotism and corruption were increasing day by day in the political system. It was not Ram Rajya, but the Raaj of one family — the Gandhi family. The family alone accounts for three prime ministers, who ruled the country for around 37 years, while another 10 years of governance in the 21st century was also largely led by the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty.

The seeds of the deterioration of the Congress party which were sown during the period of Nehru germinated and grew during the Indira regime before becoming a full blown tree in the Sonia-Rahul era which is most likely to fall due to its overbearing weight. The reasons for the decline of the Congress party which surfaced during the Indira period were not addressed by the current leadership and kept in limbo.

The high command syndrome which decided party matters earlier at national and state matters was extended at local levels with no connect with party functionaries at ground zero. The absence of a strong leader within the Congress is another significant factor.

The Congress under Nehru was an omnibus party which co-opted the ideological shades of the right-centre-left and built a consensus to rule India giving no leeway to political parties of left and right orientation to spread their political and electoral wings. The leadership and party organisation were in equilibrium and equally strong with no major opposition to challenge its supremacy. The ascendancy of Indira after a tough fight with right leadership in the Congress and subsequent expulsion paved the way for centre to left policies making her one of the most popular leader of her time. The charismatic leadership of Indira weakened the party rank and file and she banked on centralised and authoritative decisions to rule the country and maintain the single party dominance of the Congress.

Of course, there are lots of speculations over the leadership-changes in the Congress party. Will it be still Sonia Gandhi, despite her failing health? Will it be Rahul Gandhi, despite his limitations in getting votes? Or, will it be Priyanka Gandhi, despite her reluctance for active politics? Or, will there be someone else outside the family, despite it being the most unlikely scenario at the moment?

If one goes by the recent pronouncements of the senior Congress leaders, the party cannot exist without the leadership of a Gandhi. So it is fair to assume that for as long as one can see, the Congress supremo in the country will be only one of the Gandhis.

However, despite the sad situation that the Congress is in at the moment, it will be foolhardy to wish it away. As the Editor-in Chief of Uday India Prakash Nanda rightfully argues “The Congress is still the number one national party in terms of its presence and base in all parts of the country. In fact, India cannot afford to have a weak Congress. Any regional leader sans a national outlook or a Kejriwal who practices politics of anarchy cannot be alternative to Modi and the ruling BJP. India’s future as a stable democracy depends on a healthy BJP and healthy Congress. If one of these two is a ruling party either by itself or in alliance with others, the other must be the principal opposition.

If the Congress party has not been able to revive itself in the last seven years, it is precisely because it is not playing the role of an opposition. Instead, it has reduced itself to be a party of obstruction. Just see the way the Congress leaders behave and shout in the two houses of Parliament when it is in session and the way it demands that the country must be run as per its wishes. This obstructionist behaviour loses voters of the party, not otherwise, in this age of live-television.”

In sum, the Congress cannot be said to be just like yet another opposition party like the TMC or AAP.

It is a special opposition party, which the BJP will ignore only at

its peril. The Congress will always have the special capacity to bounce back strongly, provided it behaves as a responsible and constructive opposition party by talking of sensible and concrete alternatives to the policies of the government that it opposes, thus enlivening the Indian democracy. Besides, instead of being merely seen as an instrument for fighting elections every five years, the Congress, as party MP and former union minister Shashi Tharoor rightly says, “there is a great deal that it can and must do between elections, helping citizens in their interactions with the government, the police, and the unfeeling petty bureaucracy they have to confront daily. We have to return to the ethos of politics as social work for those who cannot help themselves.”

By Nilabh Krishna

 

 

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