In 2014, as the ominous elections drew closer there were reports that Rahul Gandhi had thrown in the towel. They said that facing a near certain loss, the Congress president would rather oversee a complete demolition of the party so he could rebuild it in the manner he deemed fit.
Not surprisingly the party denied it.
But then in an interview with Times Now’s Arnab Goswami, Gandhi said: “I don’t go into an election thinking, if we lose it’s the end of the world. We lose some elections, we win some elections. The real thing is that it’s a heart thing. It’s a soul thing.”
Well here’s some bad news for the Congress Vice President, the Congress seems to have lost it’s heart and soul. Here’s why:
It is now in power in just six states
The Congress can perhaps now classify its recent history as pre-Modi and post-Modi. The Modi wave in 2014 that came with the request to make India a “Congress-mukt Bharat” seems to have worked. With the losses in Assam and Kerala, the Congress has power now in just six states.
The Congress presently has state governments Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand (thanks to the Supreme Court and an alliance), Karnataka and Bihar (thanks to a well-timed association with Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav).
In 2014, the number of people in India under a Congress government was just around 8 percent. On Thursday that fell to 6 percent with the loss of Kerala and Assam.
Congress Version Rahul Is Still A Work In Progress
Rahul Gandhi was said to be planning this massive re-jig of the party. Younger leaders who were more in tune with young India, the old timers stuck in the past would be shunted out. Unfortunately with the Congress so far, Youngsters = Dynasts.
So we’ve seen leaders like Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Deepinder Hooda and Gaurav Gogoi rise to the top on the basis of their lineage with little sign of what their grand political plans are. We have had no new names, no new faces, no new ideas. And because the Congress presently is so busy firefighting and holding on to what it can, it has had no time to come up with a clear vision of what it wants to do and be.
The remote control doesn’t seem to be working
Jayalalithaa may be called Amma but for the Congress it really is Sonia Gandhi. It’s a factor that has kept a party together and has ensured various factions didn’t split. But what this also means is that the Nehru Gandhi family is the final word on who stays and goes irrespective of ground realities.
So you have the story of Rahul Gandhi reportedly preferring to play with his dog rather than negotiating with his second biggest leader in Assam, which really spells trouble. That leader, Himanta Biswas, is said to be among the architects of the BJP triumph in Assam for the first time in its history. The Uttarakhand crisis came from an infighting in the party the top leadership couldn’t control. The party may be the second largest party in states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, but there’s no clear plan on what they’re doing to wrest those states from the BJP.
The future’s not looking very bright
The Punjab election is something the party should easily win. Given the discontent over the Samajwadi Party’s rule, Uttar Pradesh also seems ripe for a Congress revival.
In Punjab the party has finally thrown its weight behind the trusted Amarinder Singh, but face risks from the upstart Aam Aadmi Party that is promising a refreshing change from the politics as usual in the state. In Uttar Pradesh, it has roped in spin wizard Prashant Kishor to plot it’s rise, but has reportedly told him to fly a kite when he tried to dictate things state leaders weren’t comfortable with. None of this reflects well on the Congress.
The party seems confused on what it wants to be, and doesn’t seem to realise that banking on anti-incumbency isn’t a strategy that will ensure victory.
The ‘Will He, Won’t He’ Over Rahul Gandhi remains
Face it, Kerala and Assam were imminent losses. Given the condition of the two state governments and the anti-incumbency they were facing, their performance is quite decent. But in Tamil Nadu, their losses hit ally DMK. But for the Congress, the biggest dilemma remains: Will Rahul Gandhi be elevated to party president.
He’s shown no inclination for wanting the job. But the party has no alternative but to make Rahul Gandhi its president. He’s been the shadow in-charge for some time now and might as well start taking the responsibility for what the party goes through.
The party does needs to be rebuilt from ground up if it is to have any future as a national party and who better than the man who has been aspiring to do it for years now and has even been taking tentative jabs at it. Make him the president and let him put up. Otherwise, future poll results will shut him up. Possibly for good.