At some level, it feels good to see the Congress party do badly in state elections. Just think of all that they have subjected the people of India to — the many Gandhis, the many scams, the many ridiculous schemes named after members of the family, the decades of ineptitude. Honestly, it feels good, because it should.
But then again, give it another thought. Does India really need a ‘Congress-Mukt Bharat’ or does it in fact need a Scam-Mukt Congress?
The BJP, now, is at the height of its powers as a national party. No longer are they confined to just the ‘Hindi belt’, they are slowly but steadily starting to make inroads into the north-east and south as well. Everyone loves Modi, everyone loves Sushma Swaraj, everyone loves Suresh Prabhu and everyone loves the fact that there have been NO major scams… so far.
But there are issues. The BJP brand of nationalism hasn’t appealed to everyone, neither have Beef politics nor the way in which they have managed to push bills through Lok Sabha, even those which have been opposed. If left unchecked, the RSS could run amok and could make our idea of liberty pretty strained.
And that is why — we need a scam-mukt Congress (however difficult that may sound); and we need it to prevent BJP from becoming another Congress.
For years, the Congress could basically do what they wanted — name schemes after the family, run the party like a personal fiefdom, ride roughshod over people they didn’t like, indulge in scam after scam after scam and do it because people in India had few other alternatives.
Till the 1970s, for many in India, politics began and ended with personalities from the Nehru Gandhi family like Indira Gandhi. Sadly, for many in the Congress, it still does.
If the Congress fails, then the BJP will be left as the only real national party. Regional parties rule the roost in many parts of India and they don’t really care about the nation as a whole. For eg, Jayalalalitaa is never going to look beyond Tamil Nadu, an SP/BSP is going to remain strong in UP, a TMC will focus on Bengal alone. So if the Congress collapses, then there will be no one around to keep the BJP on its toes at the national level.
But first things first, to stand a chance, the Congress will need to change its attitude. It can’t just count on anti-incumbency. That can’t be a strategy. They simply can’t go around saying things like the Gandhis’ leadership is “non-negotiable”. Whatever happened to choosing the best team and then electing the captain from the chosen players? This obsession with the Gandhi dynasty is coming to bite them in the ass. It’s not even like Rahul Gandhi has proven himself to be a genius.
Secondly, introspection for the Congress at the moment seems to mean not pinning any blame on the Rahul. Their first reaction to any defeat is: Rahul is not to blame. Well, he is the party vice-president and it’s about time he starts taking some responsibility. And if he wasn’t responsible then he should have been because clearly they need to plan better.
Thirdly, they need some new faces. People who really want to change India for the better and not people who get a free pass because of who their father was. Assam was a prime example of Tarun Gogoi wanting his son to succeed him despite there being more capable leaders. And see what happened there.
Fourthly, talk less, work more. The Congress simply isn’t getting enough work done on the street. You can work for the people even without being in power. What is the last thing you remember the Congress doing for your town or your city after losing power?
Just after the verdict of the state elections in four states, Shashi Tharoor said that ‘even though Congress has lost states, it still remains significant in the country.’ To an extent, he is correct. But they remain significant only because they are one of the few parties (if they get their act together) that can hold their own against the BJP; one of the few with an infrastructure in place.
And that alone makes one wish for their resurrection. Whether that happens or not, depends on how well they embrace the possible reality of a Rahul-mukt Congress.