Analysis

Congress held back by indecision

Kejriwal’s unprecedented triumph over both BJP and Congress has excited the masses and unnerved the major political parties. BJP is worried because within 9 months of his rule its star leader Narendra Modi seems to have lost his lustre. It faces the prospects of all others uniting against it, and giving a crushing blow to its divisive politics, which plays for the upper Hindu castes and even among them for the few richest. Modi’s confidence of continuing to rule for at least 10 years has surely been jolted, and he must have known by now that the mood in India seems to swing too fast to prejudge.  

But the biggest jolt is for Congress because it now faces question mark on its very survival. The other day I was talking to one of the ideologues of Congress and he compared Congress with “Kurta Pyjama” to suggest that trendy suits can give comfort only for a short time and people ultimately feel comfortable in the “Kurta Pyjama’. This sums up the negative mood in the Congress think tank which is hoping for the fall of the “trendy”  BJP, giving it a chance to make a comeback. This might be the reason why Congress stalwarts seemed to have taken hardly any part in the Delhi elections. They thought that more important than their own performance, it is the defeat of BJP which would benefit them. They forgot to foresee that, in the process, the party that would emerge on the national horizon as a new star may ultimately seek to replace Congress instead of becoming merely an alternative.  

In the aftermath of election results, pundits are debating the prospects of Arvind Kejriewal becoming a fulcrum for the socialist and leftist parties. But in debating this they are misjudging the intentions and plans of Kejriwal & Co. Kejriwal does not want to be another V P Singh who succeeded in uniting every other party against Congress. Kejriwal has larger and more long-term plans. His AAP seeks not to become an alternative to BJP but to become a replacement for Congress. More than BJP, it is AAP which wants to see a “Congress-mukt Bharat”. Ironically, Congress is not thinking on these lines.  

Kejriwal’s party does not want casteist or communal politics to play any role in its scheme of things. It does not seek to attract the Dalit, Backward and Muslim votes at the cost of the upper class votes. He wants some support from all of them rather than total support from some of them. With their aggressive style of functioning, they hope to make Congress dysfunctional by the time next elections come.  

Congress seems to have lost its direction. The dilemma of leadership remains unresolved. The interesting part is that the media, the experts as well as some Congressmen seem to hold Rahul Gandhi responsible for what is happening. The truth on the other hand is that he is the least responsible, and if he is being singled out by the corporate media, it is simply because they want to destroy the future of Congress. Rahul Gandhi is not being given credit for what he richly deserves and is being discredited for the failures of others.

He has played a positive role in so many projects that anyone else could have become a hero even if he had taken up the cause of any one of them. He played an important role in RTI, almost singlehandedly pushed the Land Acquisition  Act, his support to Food Security Act was crucial, made sure that Lok Pal Bill was passed in time and his defiant, public  tearing of the ordinance was an act that could have under normal circumstances transformed him into a hero overnight. Nobody doubts his intentions and straightforwardness. He is not blamed for being after the Chair, but for running reluctant to accept it.

There is no doubt about his secular credentials. Still he continues to be portrayed negatively in the media, and the chief reason for this is that he has shown no interest in the corporate-driven agenda in recent times. Convinced that he is no friend of them, and is always looking for people-friendly schemes, they are in no mood to let him influence the direction of the socioeconomic policy of the country. The recent Jayantirajan statement has also confirmed how much concerned he remains for the environment, Adivasis and the poor, and that he does not care a wee bit of how a few corporates react.

Instead of getting the credit for his behind-the-scene, low-profile activism, the pundits keep blaming him for the failure of Sonia-Manmohan duo. Technically speaking, Rahul Gandhi’s position in Congress has not been better than that of Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in BJP. His position is even weaker because unlike Naqvi he has not even been a minister. Nobody seems to question the lacklustre approach of Manmohan Singh in the final days of his regime despite his being Prime Minister of the country, and nobody questions Sonia Gandhi for her full support to Manmohan Singh and her failure to explain the UPA government’s achievements to the masses. Even when Rahul made that dramatic move on the Ordnance on Corruption, Ms Gandhi reprimanded him, giving an opportunity on a platter to BJP for making an all-out him. When Congress lost, again instead of blaming the head of the government and the head of the party, Rahul was targeted.  

If Congress has to revive, it will have to have a single source of power without delay. You cannot have three centres of power, and another one in the waiting. Akhilesh Yadav cannot emerge as a national leader till Mulama Singh Yadav is president of the party. Anyone else cannot hope to lead BJP till Modi is there. Congress will have to take a decision sooner than later. Either they should install Rahul Gandhi as president or they should abandon resting hopes in him. It is so straight and simple.  

Rahul Gandhi will have to take tough decisions himself. He should either resign from all party posts, concentrating on popular campaigns or should ask for undiluted authority. He will have to lead from the front rather than from behind. His vision and actions must be seen by all as his, and he should openly disown the failures of others. He should make sure that he unfolds his economic agenda for the people fast, and must start mobilising the people in its favour without any delay. Hoping to beat BJP only on its communal agenda will backfire. The most effective antidote of Communalism is a people-friendly socio-economic agenda.  

 If the party does not act now, it will be all over for it.  

          The author is Delhi-based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest Quranic Paradigm of Sciences & Society (First Vol: Health). He can be contacted at doctorforu123@yahoo.com

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2015 on page no. 11

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