In the series of defeats in the State Assembly elections and in the critical municipal elections in Mumbai and Delhi,the latest wipeout in the major state of UP where the Congress finished fourth, the party faces the certain defeat in the 2009 general elections.Already its major ally,the DMK had started weakening the Central Government’s morale by almost turning the Prime Minister a captive of a regional party.Thus,there is general discontent and demoralisation within India’s oldest party.Here below is the letter from an old time Congress party activist to the president of the Congress party.
Indian National Congress,
New Delhi-110 001
Sub:state of the Congress party-regarding
I hope you must have read today’s Hindu newspaper’s edit page article by Harish Khare(May 24,2007) on”A party’s need for renewal and three options”
I thought I should draw your attention to it and make my own comments on the same.
I am mature enough to know well that poltiics is a tough game and there is no reason for any emotions or sentiments and it is all about the compulsions of the numbers game.As such, you, as the Congress party president,are left with very few choices and in fact left with no choices but to follow the logic of numbers.This must everyone will concede.So,we are having a coalition government,now completed three years and with what little achievements are not bad achievements if only looked at in that light.But seen in the context of the some of the related developments and compulsions of their own,the Congress party has only very few friends among the allies and many waiting in the wings just to hop on to other coalition arrangements as the next general elections near.Now with the UP election results we have very much to cheer about.
So,the article in question deals with some issues the party has to face squarely,if it is serious about reasserting its primacy in the Indian scheme of things and if the party is to continue its 122 years legacy forward.
These are also tought questions as I see them.
The newspaper article puts forward some useful suggestions and also offer some useful insights as to how the party can go about it.I wonder whether the AICC or some among your colleagues,either in the party or in the government,discussed with you so far about these issues.
If so,I am happy,if not I am not too disappointed!For poltiics is always like this,anywhere else.But as one interested in politics from my student days when I had the great privilege of seeing Pandit Nehru during his annual visits to Santiniketan and later in England where I was in Oxford during the 1959-61 and later when I visited New Delhi and later still when briefly worked at the AICC under Kamaraj,my interest in the Congress party,its history and its historical ideological development,I am extremely concerned about what is happening in the Indian National Congress.
So,the point here is that as Mr.Khare points out that there are three options.One ,how the party is an open organisation,open enough to inspire and draw newcomers.Is the party now such an open party,open to draw newcomers,new generation,educated youngsters or even open enough to draw party men from other parties,ideologues who might be attracted by the party’s,say,secularist credtentials or other features,such as econmic reforms?Also,the party must have an elective element,as I have also pointed out earlier.
Second, the renewal of the family matrix.Here too,nothign will be lost if we are a bit more open and more honest by admitting ,say Rahul Gandhi’s interest in politics.As such we can also promote him in a more open manner.I am sure the country might accept such a push if it is done openly.But the present situation in thre party seems to me from this distance,is that in the name of promoting the Rahul Gandhi interest,somehow you have gathered or enouraged too much deadwood.Too many mediocre persons are given too migh jobs,both as ministers as well as party workers.
Even a minister like Mani Shankar Aiyar or some others,havent perfomed strictly at their portfolios level.Such persons also daring to create embarrassments must be eased out.Dedicated men and women are there aplenty.You must constitute such a search committee to scout for talents to bring them into the party fold.There are any number who would join the party as supprters without expected immediate open rewards.This talent pool is fast depleting for the party and this only would drive the party into irreparable loss.If everyone is fast feathering his or her own nest then what chance for the part for renewal?
Third,the point raised by Mr,Khare is about the efficacy of the family mystique.The tragedy is that in superficial or even genuine imitation every other ally is imitating the family dynastic politics in a blatant manner.The DMK has done it in a most uncivilised manner and yet the DMK seems to be counted as a more dependable ally of the Congress.The DMK is not a dependable ally and only if you keep a close tab you will find the DMK is just exploiting your helplessness to further its own very narrow and even divisive politics.Yes,I am aware your choices in TN are getting narrowed and also,if I amy say,getting wasted as well!
You have to take some bold and subtle iniaitives in the state.It is to this point that Mr.Khare also comes at the end of his article.
I hope you go through his piece once more.Here I quote the relavant passage:”The strategic objective of a modern organisation option should be identification of a group of 20-30 -odd men and women,sharing common dreams and visions,producing an infectious chemistry down the line.Sadly,the present Congress lacks even this minmum degree of ideological and personal choerence”.
This is the most daunting challenge.If the party,I hope not,in the next general elections fares badly,then whom we would be blaming?
Surely,the PM wont be there to help the party.Surely the handful of seniors you are banking on and backing them(I neednt name them here)wont be there either.Not the major allies, the regional caste and divisive allies.They would all look for the next combination that would fetch them more ministerial berths.Of course this is the compulsion of the numbers game I alluded in the begining.
Yet,the party’s long history proves that in times of major ideological or historic battles left the party seriously divided or split,there have been so many such occasions,in 1907,1920-21,1936,1941,1945,1947 and after Independence too,it is often the core dedicated ideologically commmitted few individuals who rally round the party and the leaders.
I hope you constitute such an inner ideologically committed men and women of ideas and ideals.This is a search that can be your pastime.It cant be done in a day,I understand but nevertheless,it is the duty of the president of a great party like the Congress.That would only create a proud legacy.