After the rout of the Congress in the Lok Sabha election in 2014 the party faced debacle after debacle in the elections to the state assemblies and the procession of abysmal defeats culminated in the most humiliating rout of the Congress in UP assembly election 2017.
BJP captured all four assembly seats of Amethi Lok Sabha constituency of Rahul Gandhi. Out of the ten assembly seats of Amethi and Raibareli BJP has won six of them. If the Congress could win 28 seats in the previous election this time it could win only seven. If the Congress has won Punjab with a comfortable majority the credit goes to the seventy five year old Amarinder Singh.
The decimation of the secular parties in UP and Uttarakhand and their weakening in other two states to which elections were held recently brings to the fore the urgency of revitalizing the secular parties if democracy has to survive in India. BJP along with its alliance partners is ruling 17 states of India which include huge states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. A sweeping victory in UP will embolden the BJP and the PM not only to continue with the anti-people policies but also to pursue more harmful ones like the demonetization. The outfits of the Sangh Parivar may become more arrogant and violent towards freedom of expression and embark upon more active moral policing.
The PM and the BJP have succeeded in cajoling people that the demonetization was undertaken for their benefit. On the other hand the opposition parties, particularly the Congress, miserably failed to explain to the people the havoc created by demonetization. The revitalization of the Congress Party is an urgent need to save democracy in India because the ultimate goal of the BJP is to make India a Hindu Rashtra on the model of Pakistan, a theocratic state.
BJP, the Hindutva party, grew and flourished mainly because of the omissions and commissions of the Congress. Hence the Congress party has a moral obligation to keep secular democracy alive and vibrant. The Congress with its pan Indian presence has still scope to be revived as a robust opposition.
Rahul Gandhi disappeared from the scene for a day after the electoral rout in UP. He should have been present at the press conference along with Akhilesh Yadav during the press conference and taken responsibility for the defeat. A leader is expected to lead the party from the front, especially during a crisis.
It is three years since the rout of the party in the Lok Sabha election 2014. Till today no serious introspection or high level meeting of the party leaders was held to evaluate and prepare an action plan to rejuvenate the party. The party has no clue how to confront the resurgent BJP and the Sangh Parivar. It has not evolved a strategy to reinvent itself and instil hope and vigour in its cadres. It has no clarity about its vision for India, different from the Hindutva of BJP-RSS combine. As a result its cadres are confused and the public is losing faith in its capability to lead the nation.
Instead of exposing the hollowness of the policies through marshalling facts and figures Rahul indulges in personal attack on the Prime Minister. The Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi should have made a series of research studies on the consequences of demonetization and brought before the public the result of the studies. Personal attack on the Prime Minister, whose popularity is on the increase, in itself is a bad strategy. The Congress vice-president had in December 2016 said he possessed certain material against the Prime Minister, and if he spoke in Parliament, there would be an "earthquake". By this kind of statement Rahul Gandhi only made himself a laughing stock.
Rahul could not reduce factionalism in the Congress party and restore unity, especially in the state units of the party. Prior to UP election, a good number of Congress leaders, including Rita Bahuguna Joshi who was the president of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee from 2007 to 2012, joined BJP. SM Krishna, former Union Minister and former CM of Karnataka has joined the BJP after remaining in the Congress for 46 years. It was reported that Himanta Biswa Sarma left the Congress and joined BJP because Rahul Gandhi was not ready to hear him. Today he is the moving spirit behind the movement, “Congress Mukt North East”. Today BJP is ruling Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur.
It has been proved that Rahul Gandhi is no match to Narendra Modi and he has failed to inject new life into the Congress party. The duo, mother Sonia and son Rahul together shall convene a meeting of the Congress leaders from all over the country. The young leaders in the party should speak out their views for reinventing the party. Self-seeking leaders are mainly responsible for emaciating the party. The party is to be liberated from these self-seeking leaders if it is to be rebuilt. This is the most opportune time for Rahul Gandhi to rebuild the party and take on Narendra Modi.#(Published on 27th March 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 13)