How the party can recover, if at all?
The latest Assembly elections in five states proved many truths. The Congress party lost so badly in all states, except in Punjab. In UP, it was decimated. The most important state, UP, the very heart land rejected the party completely.
Instead of dwelling on the reasons for the massive drubbing, we can better search for reasons for Modi’s success.
Modi, immediately after the result, spoke of a New India he would create with so many promises, chief among them is economic growth, jobs, fight terrorism, corruption, fight even casteism and of course communalism too. He didn’t give one ticket for the Muslims who constitute 19 per cent. The very significant reason, in our view, is his new hegemonism, the dominant theme and the dominant tone.
A known Hindutva pracharak transformed into a man driven by a new N energy to turn the tables against his opponents by a combination of an energy, a man possessed and his soaring oratory, his resort to some of the low-down uses of words and phrases and that created almost a stir in the minds of people, the mass as well as the middle classes, the media looked subjugated, it was very obliging, his orations filled the media wave and there was a sense of helplessness on the part of the opponents, Akilesh Yadav and by his side Rahul Gandhi seemed running behind the Prime Minister, the whirlwind rallies, the three days in Varanasi had three or more rallies and it looked the PM was simply caught by a last brave attempt to brow beat the combined forces of his opponents.
The series of blunders, the retreats his much rated campaign opponents, Priyanka Gandhi disappeared as soon as she showed her face, Mulayam Singh Yadav was not visible for the most part of the campaigning, so too others from the Opposition side. In contrast, we saw a battery of fiery speeches by the hot heads, thought their rhetoric avoided or made to leave out the more contentious campaign promises. Hindutva ideology was thrown overboard this time. It paid decisively.
Now, what is the road ahead for the Congress?
We were in Delhi this time and we saw some Congress bigwigs. On a previous occasion we met A.K.Antony and Motilal Vohra. This time we met Sheila Dikshit and reached Manmohan Residence, apart from the AICC where we are accustomed, as often to the sense of total neglect and no one is interested to see you, let alone talk to you.
The only alternative to the present despondency at the AICC is to request Sonia Gandhi to polity make way for others. So too Rahul can be given rest. The duo can be accommodated at the CWC or elsewhere keeping in mind the close identity they had established and the many legal and other tangles in which they are involved.
Seriously, the others attached to the AICC, occupying the real estate in the Lutyen bungalow zone must be sent out.
A new committee, that too drawn from states, also not members of the negative factions must be excluded. A new CWC, or a broad consensus group, better invited to send their willingness to join such a consensus group must be accommodated.
There must be new ideology formulations, reiterating the party’s traditional values and a honest commitment to revive the party on its core ideological values.
The party is historic, 132 years, with historic values. India inherited the best from the West, democracy, Constitution, Parliament, Secularism etc.
So, this international ideological perspective must inform the Congress party whoever is assigned this task.
Inner party democracy, party funds made public, the many queries before the apex court cases, the EC must be taken up and made public.
Once the dynasty is done with, no other way at all, the very credibility of the Congress leadership would be restored.
As for Prime Minister Modi’s New India, it is still a work in progress only. As it looks, the government in the present ideological scenario looks a hegemonic structure. It spells certain danger if you have sense of history. Democratic India where there is a large underbelly of poor and the deprived won’t remain hungry for an indefinite time, right? An unequal and an inequitable India stares at us, right?
Fighting corruption, a clean and efficient bureaucracy is so important. They need many new steps like Lokayukta and Lokpal. The country is young, the youth is aspirational and social media is active and so the Prime Minister in a Parliamentary democracy has much work on his hand.
It is a tough journey. People are awake!