Congress in coma

More than a fortnight has passed since the result of five State assembly elections was out. Except in Punjab, the Congress performance was poor. It was very poor in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. In Manipur and Goa, it emerged as the single largest party but failed to form its government. In Punjab also, the Congress victory was more due to the utterly dismal record of the Akali-BJP government rather than to a sudden revival of faith of the people in the Congress. The Congress has been steadily declining ever since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Its latest mascot, Rahul Gandhi, has failed to enthuse his own party workers, not to speak of the people in general. Sonia Gandhi’s failing health has made the question of ‘who will lead the Congress in the coming days’ urgent.
But strangely, the Congress seems to have gone into a political hibernation, if not a coma. No decline in popularity, no defeat in the polls, no political discomfiture can shake it out of its present state of torpor and lassitude. No indication that it is aware of the gravity of the situation developing in the country, the mounting threat to our democratic and secular polity. There is no effort at introspection as to what has gone wrong and where and how to stop this downhill journey; whether it is time now to pass on the baton from the family-centric High Command to a collective leadership of younger people who have their ears to the ground.
The way in which the divisive forces are gaining ground and vigorously pursuing their majoritarian political agenda, the opposition will be hardly able to face the ruling dispensation when the next general elections come in two years’ time. The opposition is divided, ideologically, politically and programmatically. They feel the need for unity only when they have to enter the election battle against a strong adversary. Such a negative ‘unity’ does not inspire confidence in the masses, when they see a strong, charismatic leader with Messiah-like attributes promising to bring them ‘better days’.
Today the opposition does not have a strong leader with a charismatic personality like Jawaharlal Nehru or Indira Gandhi who commands the trust and confidence of the people. This lacuna can be filled up to a great extent by an ideologically committed and cohesive collective leadership. The Congress can still play the role of a catalytic agent in bringing about the unity of the secular and democratic opposition parties that can effectively fight the forces of majoritarian politics. But to do that it has first to put its own house in order.

Friday, 31 March, 2017