Congress’s decline isn’t a new phenomenon. The party has in the past seen some serious downfalls and has ably resurrected itself. I have been following the Congress party for some years now. I have a liking for this party because it has some great stalwarts associated with it. Of course, we can argue in length and breadth about the ‘contribution’ of these stalwarts in India’s growth and development. Yet, I would like to exercise my right to like or dislike based on the age-old human tendency of making prejudices and favorites.
In the age of ‘on-your-face-media’ Congress is doing nothing to break its shell. It has capable leadership but is not able to encash it. It is like the money in PPF which one can encash only after 17 years, but what is the point if you need it now!
The likes of Digvijay Singh, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Abhishek Singhvi are talking about a so-called surgery. Satyavrat went a mile ahead and said – Cardiac Surgery. Nevertheless, the problem is extremely basic and Congress needs to go back to fundamentals. The problem here is foundational – it is the lack of acceptance. Congress has to accept that there exists a problem. Once acceptance is triggered solution/s will follow.
Lack of Acceptance comes due to fear of failure or rather acknowledging the failure. In my opinion, Rahul Gandhi is doing more harm to himself by sidetracking from accepting the defeats head-on. One can argue, Assam was anti-incumbency, Kerala was also an Assam case, Tamil Nadu was a surprise and I think Didi was going to make a comeback in West Bengal. Yet, if this is what the pattern of expression is then the party is doing more damage to itself than BJP can ever inflict on it. It is a classic example of excuses are the pillars used to build a house of failure.
Failure is not a plague. You shouldn’t avoid failure. In fact, failure teaches us lot more than success. Some of the best failures are the best leaders in history. India got its independence after failing multiple times in multiple ways. Finally, when we won it, we won it. Rahul Gandhi wouldn’t lose a dime in meeting his party men and women and talking about his failure in converting votes in Congress’s favor. By talking to his people at the grass-root level he will only learn. Some of the greatest leaders in history have evolved not by sulking but by tackling their worst fears and failures.
Underlying some issues which Congress faces as of now:
1. The childlike attraction towards Priyanka Gandhi – Can we move on from the era of Moses? Congress needs to understand no one can revive their fortune singlehandedly. To believe a prophet or a fairy godmother will change their fortune is a juvenile thought. There has to be a collective leadership taking joint responsibility of the ship at all times. Identify the best troubleshooters, treasurers, solution binders and give them the authority to run the show through democratic understanding. Stop asking for Priyanka Gandhi after every defeat. Make the party and its people understand – You already have a Gandhi and better cling to him rather than showing distrust in his leadership all the time. This way you are only denting his position and doing no good. I don’t know what Priyanka wants but even if she decides to take the plunge, she should remember that in current times no one can run a show alone. You need decentralization of power, collective responsibility and empowering of meat-and-potatoes.
2. Win the faith of the people – You’ve lost the plot. Honestly, corruption is synonymous with Congress. I am an avid fan of the party but the corruption irks me. I can imagine how deeply people hate the party for its corrupt ways. I am sure, Congress isn’t as corrupt as media or fellow parties portray it. However, the writing is on the wall. Read it. Bring in people with the clean image. They can be less smart but, please try they are honest. Honesty is indeed the best policy. I understand politics is a genre where honest can’t survive. Yet, check Kejriwal. He has created this air of honesty – how honest he is only time will tell. But the air he has created has translated into votes. Punjab elections will more or less give us an idea of this.
3. Tap the untapped – Rahul Gandhi had championed for women empowerment. Where has that thought gone? Women today are running the show – Maya, Mamata, Jaya, Vasundhara are political examples. In the society, women are trying to build a platform for themselves and give a tough fight to those who challenge their being. Why isn’t the party tapping the almost 50% population of the country? If it is doing so, why isn’t it propagating? When you are dealing with a topic as genteel as a woman, bring in party policies to reflect your intent. Look at what Canadian PM Justin Trudeau did. Learn from him. This will give Congress the impetus it is looking for. Remember if you are successful in influencing a woman, you are successful in influencing her kids, at least.
4. Rahul, go to Uttar Pradesh – Damn required. If you are being suggested to take the baton of the Chief Minister of UP, take it. Narendra Modi proved his abilities as the CM of Gujarat and people of the country awarded him the country. It is about time, Mr. Gandhi understands that India has changed. No one will give you the coveted post until they are convinced that you can lead. PM Modi has been successful in convincing Hindustanis that there is no alternative to him. He could do this by selling the Gujarat model to Indians. Think about it, what can Rahul Gandhi sell to Indians – nothing other than his surname which Indians these days hate!! It would be interesting to see how he can lead, manage and transform the state which is in stale state. If Rahul can manage UP, he can manage India. It would be engaging to know about his policies for UP. There is nothing wrong in starting from the basics. Win the trust of the people. By the way, even after being projected as CM if Congress loses the election, it should still continue on the path of acceptance and transformation. Failure is the best teacher.
5. Be a part of the Government – Being in opposition doesn’t mean you have to oppose each and every government policy. Being in opposition gives you more scope to enhance your credibility and visibility. The government has initiated some tremendous programs can Skill India and Access India. These are the kind of programs which should be celebrated irrespective of your loyalties. By implementing and supporting these programs at axiological levels Congress can showcase to the nation it is genuinely trying to be part of India’s development story. Congress has a huge connect and it can utilize this connect to extend support to the government in running a great show. Irrespective of where our loyalties lie, we must not forget we all are part of this great nation and we have to strive to develop it, better it. How about extending a warm hand of friendship to Uma Bharti in cleaning the soul of this country? Think about it!!
7. Be critical but be genuine – Don’t criticize for the sake of criticizing. Do it with care and concern. Remember, the country is watching you. Every word you speak should be pondered even before it leaves your mouth at least a hundred times. In the age of non-stop news, make sure you are making news and not views. Appreciate the Government and stop passing the buck.
Political gains are made not by forming ties but by winning the hearts of the people. India has a complex heart. You never know what will hit the right string and what will create unnecessary ripples. The grand old party of India is not losing ground but faith of the people in it. Small time earners are AAP and other regional parties. Congress has to bring a paradigm shift by not just changing its approach but also influencing the way people of India think about it. It is a long and a tedious journey but every genuine effort counts. If you want to achieve the unachievable, you have to do the unthinkable.