File photo of Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Photograph:( ANI )
In the interest of democracy, Congress should focus on its own health rather than the single point agenda of keeping Modi out.
At what cost the BJP should be stopped is the question which confronts Congress Party today. Should Congress Party sacrifice itself on the altar of secularism to prevent BJP coming to power or should it fight the elections to expand itself both electorally and organisationally?
Ideally, this question should have been settled two years back, but the party continues to vacillate on the issue of alliance and organisation. Congress today stands split between two types of groups. One group wants to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi at any cost, and hence, wants Congress to sacrifice and accommodate regional parties in form of a broader alliance.
The other group wants to contest the Lok Sabha elections with smaller partners who add strength to the Congress. This group has been resenting party’s tryst with SP-BSP in Uttar Pradesh and with AAP in Delhi. What is surprising is despite resistance from the local leadership, the idea to stich an alliance continues to flow from the top leaders in the Congress. Even in the case of Uttar Pradesh, a big section within the Congress desires to become the part of the umbrella alliance in Uttar Pradesh.
The desire exists understanding fully well that it would damage the reputation and standing of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. With an alliance in place, the question would arise,” Why did you get Priyanka when Congress only wanted to fight on 10 odd seats.”
Where does this fear stems from? Does it stem from the fact that Congress has accepted that it cannot match vote consolidation of the BJP all across India? The answer lies somewhere else. It lies within the culture of Congress post 1970s.
Over a period of time, ideological debate on issues and individuals died in the Congress. This is not to say that great debates are taking place under Modi’s BJP, but RSS makes up for it by pursuing dialogues internally. Lack of this exercise creates an atmosphere which subsequently reduces idealism in the party. Idealism is a glue which kept Left and Right alive during lean times. Congress on the other hand either falls back on charisma of the Gandhi’s or power to stay together. With reduced charisma of Gandhis in national politics, the glue which holds the Congress together today is power hence the pressure from senior leadership to ensure Modi loses at any cost, even at the cost of the Congress Party?
This thinking needs to be seriously reversed for the health of democracy. Congress is the only national party after BJP. It is down but not out. It needs to get into a smart alliance with smaller parties and ensure that narrative remains around jobs and economy. Congress mishandled Pulwama terror attack and BJP stole the thunder right under its nose. Congress needs to reset the narrative which it had after winning three Hindi heartland states. If it fails, Congress will again be reduced to two digits in Lok Sabha.
Congress needs to regain the lost confidence too with the message that it will remain in business for the next 100 years. RSS was banned thrice and faced the stigma of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination but still survived to ensure that it had its government with a simple majority in power in 2014. This tenacity to stay relevant should be a learning curve for Congress.
This tenacity can be reached if Congress recreates a robust ideological culture inside the party which would recreate new ideals for the Congress.
Side by side, it should be ensured that the organisation is not compromised for the sake of keeping Modi out of power. It never worked for the Socialists. There rabid anti-Congress attitude was devoid of ideology and ultimately led to their own demise. Their governments were short lived. Same should not happen to Congress as it cannot afford to become Rishi Dadhichi who gave up his life so that his bones could be used to make an Astra to kill a demon.
In today’s context, Congress as a national party is required as a bulwark against hegemonic BJP. In the interest of democracy, it should focus on its own health rather than following the single point agenda of keeping Modi out.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)