The Congress should aim for opposition unity, but that does not mean that it can tie up with any political party Photograph:( Others )
The commentators and the politically influential people in this country have started writing the epitaph of the Congress party.
They have all the right to believe so because, since past three years or so, the electoral fortunes of the party have seriously dithered, particularly after the miserable defeat of 2014.Their intense speculation about the future of the Grand Old Party is something which passionate flag bearers like me cannot discount, but are profoundly anguished with. The Liberals are angry at us. But we need to convert that anger into love. I am a Congressman and will remain a Congress party admirer even if I am the last man standing, although I shall do everything within my means to prevent that ‘last man’ scenario.
I know I may be painting a pessimistic picture, and some of you who will read this will definitely not agree with my assessment. Some of you may also question my locus-standi for writing this- since I am also part of that very system, albeit a very small part in which the Congress system works, I am responsible too. But, considering that I am an eternal optimist, I shall always yearn that such an eventuality shall never come.
Congress will remain strong and will overcome its present problems. We shall again redeem India and will not let it slip into the darkness.
Congress will remain strong and will overcome its present problems. We shall again redeem India and will not let it slip into the darkness. Our ideals and ideology are rock solid and our commitment to secularism is unflinching. Compassion, brotherhood, love and respect are the pillars on which the Congress party stands.There are lots of inherent flaws with which our inner party system works, but there are innumerable positive aspects too.
In the initial years of the Modi Government, the Congress party believed that as the BJP lacks the ability to solidly govern and administer, it will never be able to live up to the expectations of people. This has actually led to the former's complacency that has turned it into a reactive force. “Jab yeh galitiya karenge, abhi nahi toh 5-10 saal baad humara waqt aayega” (When they will make mistakes, not today, but eventually after 5-10 years we will be back in power) was the drawing room chatter of every Congressman.
Both critics and admirers would agree that the single biggest mistake which the Congress party made in the UPA era was not to build its cadre, especially in states where it was organisationally weak.
Then came a period during which failures after failures marred BJP's image but the Congress merely acted as a reactionary force, failing to capitalise the blunders of the ruling party. Both critics and admirers would agree that the single biggest mistake which the Congress party made in the UPA era was not to build its cadre, especially in states where it was organisationally weak. An Opposition needs a rank of robust and committed workers to carry on its political work. The Congress is a mass-based party and not a cadre based one, yet it has certain unique organisational strengths, which could have been tapped into. The party's frontals are more or less defunct and, at the most, have become extremely sycophantic in nature- with almost no vision or plan of action.
After three years into the Modi Government, where the BJP is using every trick in the political book to expand its bases, the Congress is making last ditch attempts to somehow foster unity among the Opposition, without much success. The Nitish Kumar fiasco may have its opportunistic and political strokes, and broad ones indeed, yet the Congress has to somehow take its share of the blame too. I know, I will again be accused of crossing the Lakshman Rekha (Red Line) while I try to objectively put forth this assessment, but acceptance of failures is the first stepping stone to success.
I have been hinting and posting on social media, since long, that the Congress needs a positive agenda. A solid, implementable narrative and a new vision to take along those committed liberal voters who still believe in those ideals on which the edifice of our Constitution was laid. Time and again, I have come to the conclusion that only a positive narrative can resurrect the Congress.
Time and again, I have come to the conclusion that only a positive narrative can resurrect the Congress.
For starters, we should look at our own 2014 Manifesto. This 45-page document should be our Magna Carta to attack and question the BJP. It will give us more credibility because we shall not be merely criticising the policies, but also put forth a positive policy solution, for instance, we would go to the people of the country pointing out, “Had the Congress been in power, there were the 5 steps it would have taken to solve agrarian distress” and “These are the steps that the Congress party would have taken to create more jobs”.
It is not that the Congress party is not taking steps to revamp its organisational structure. The election process will be completed this year and a new team is slowly and steadily been set up. New General Secretary in-charge of the states are being appointed. The Communications department of the party is seeing new faces and a newer strategy for the same is in place now. Research and Social Media wings have also been refurbished and are working with a new vigour. Yes, we lack in media management, and that needs to be proactively dealt with. The voter connect is only possible when you gather small constituencies of groups together and focus on the liberal supporters. Laziness, complacency and arrogance should be done away with. A strong ideological resolve is needed so as solidify our support base. We all know what ails the Congress party, we should have solutions for the same.
No political party that has a closed system and is secretive in nature can function in a vibrant democracy. We have to open the doors for the converts as well as for the swing ones.
A large section of media has become the mouthpiece for the BJP, and the Congress needs to find an alternate for the same.
The Congress should aim to unite with other opposition parties, but that does not mean that it can tie up with any political party which is ideologically not on the same page as it is. At the end of the day, such an alliance falls through as we have seen in West Bengal and in Uttar Pradesh. Let us not repeat that. The Congress should try and build consensus, but if that is not possible, just leave these regional parties to fend for themselves. We should stop pandering to them. Let us built our own identity, we were successful because we had one. We should not leave it. Opposition unity is good for short term goals, but in the long term, we should strive for our own national space. In states, where we are dependent on regional satraps, we have only declined. Even if we win one seat, it should be on our own.
If we do not implement a positive agenda and restructure ourselves, then even our forefathers, who so painstakingly built this country, will not forgive us for sending India to the dark ages.
(All the views expressed in the article by the author are strictly personal.)