Those who follow me on social media know very well that I am a staunch fan of Narendra Modi and the core voter of the Bharatiya Janata Party or the BJP. They also know that on social media my views are always negative about the Congress party, but yet I am writing this piece in favor of the Congress party because I think it is the need of the hour. Before I move forward I must clarify one thing.
Despite being the staunch fan of Narendra Modi and the core voter of the BJP I always believed in democracy. No matter how weak or indifferent at times, our democracy is, but it is the base on which India is standing firm today and can talk with the rest of the world with keeping its head high. For democracy, a strong opposition is always one of the utmost necessities, because without strong opposition any government can become uncontrollable and arbitrary. So for a strong democracy and strong opposition party, I am writing this piece in favor of Congress despite being its opposition.
But, at the same time, it is not the duty of the ruling party to make its opposition strong and robust because ultimately a stronger opposition created by them will be at their peril. It is the duty of the opposition to make itself strong and stay like that forever. Despite being a staunch Narendra Modi fan I have never been a supporter of his ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ call because I believe in a healthy democracy and I also feel that Congress is still the only party that can provide us a strong opposition to keep the check on the government.
The main reason for my belief about Congress being the only option that can provide the strong opposition is its pan-India presence. If we check our political map closely no other political party of India than Congress has a state government in more than two states at this time (not counting BJP in this of course). Plus, Congress has the cadre that is spread across the country and perhaps has a presence in every village of this country; hence it is the only hope right now for India to provide strong opposition.
Ever since the emergence of the BJP in the early 1990s and later when it formed a coalition government at the center the signs were that India is fast moving towards two-party democracy. Between 2004 and 2014 also, when BJP was all over the NDA government, after each of their scams were unearthed that belief became stronger. But, when Congress lost the 2014 General Elections, it has become weaker and weaker. Although Congress has won back a few states that it lost soon after the 2014 Loksabha Elections, it is still not the same party that it was prior to the 2014 elections. But a weaker Congress has allowed the emergence of smaller parties like AAP and TMC in few states.
Recently, we have noticed that the Trinamool Congress Party or TMC is trying to make its presence felt in many other states of India where till now it is totally unknown quantity. Yes, TMC is stronger in the eastern part of India but we have seen posters of TMC here in Ahmedabad (Gujarat) and very recently Mamata Banerjee has visited Goa as well and included former Goa’s Chief Minister Luizinho Falerio into her party. This is proof that TMC has the aspiration to become a national party.
The Aam Aadmi Party or AAP is also trying hard to make inroads in Punjab, Goa, and nowadays in my home state Gujarat as well. Although AAP has an impression in the general public’s mind that wherever there is a state assembly election it always floats its candidates no matter whether they win or not, that has actually dented its image. But, AAP has a strong presence in Punjab and no one can deny that, it may also create some trouble in Goa for its oppositions, but biggies like Gujarat and Maharashtra or Rajasthan, AAP has to wait for many years or decades to find a foothold.
While putting forward these two examples, I was trying to make a point that despite smaller or regional parties trying hard to spread themselves across the nation it is very difficult for them to taste success in the immediate future. On the other hand, Congress already has its presence diagonally in India, and if we are looking for a stronger opposition across India, Congress is the only option as of now.
Despite winning back a few states in the last three-four years Congress has also lost big leaders during the last seven years. Hemanta Biswa Sarma, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jeetan Prasad, and just recently Captain Amrinder Singh are a few of the biggest, if not the tallest leaders of Congress who have either left the party or switched sides with the BJP in the last seven to eight years. Congress has saved the face by keeping Sachin Pilot in the party despite his strong rebellion last year, but the current scenario in Rajasthan also suggests that he is waiting for the right time only to defect from the party that he and his late father served for a long time.
Being from Gujarat I am used to witnessing Congress MLAs switching sides often in mass and joining BJP immediately or at a later stage. I am sure that such things must be happening elsewhere in India as well. This is making the Congress party weak from within and this issue must be addressed pretty quickly. From the top also Congress is not helping itself either. It is a universal fact that the Congress party is run by the Gandhi family only like a private limited company. In the current era, people want to know results and not history, not charming faces and this is where Congress is faulting big time.
Narendra Modi keeps on saying that he is building New India, but very few could see that he has already created new political thinking in Indians that can see the politics and politicians differently than their previous few generations. Generations have changed since the assignation of Rajiv Gandhi and yet Congress, Rahul Gandhi, and Priyanka Vadra asking for votes in his name or in the name of Indira Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru, the formula that has passed its sell date way back in the late 2000s. They may get takers of this formula and emotions within the party but outside of it, people want to vote mainly on performance these days and not on emotions.
So, everything has come down to the big Congress leaders and Congress cadre to change the entire mindset of the party and its image among the people of India. If Congress wants to see itself ruling India again or to be a strong opposition first, then it has to emerge from within and that too through its cadre. So what are the options the common Congress cadre or a big Congress leader has so that they can compete with the BJP in future elections and gain the lost ground back?
A Serious Introspection
Introspection is a favorite word for any political party that has lost an election. Congress is losing many elections in the last seven years and every time we hear this word from their top leadership. When it lost the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi said that they and their party will do some serious introspection, and the same words were repeated after the defeat of the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. But on the ground, this never happened. What happens is the game of musical chairs and things get back to normal after the Congressmen get satisfied with the new Congress President that must be from the Gandhi family.
Remove Gandhi Family from the Helm
This is probably the toughest job for all the Congressmen to execute and one would feel that the Congressmen themselves feel that it will be a dangerous task as well to remove the Gandhi family from controlling the party and they might get expelled from the party. But as a matter of fact, the real danger is not in removing the Gandhi family from the top, but it lies in keeping them at the top for the next few years instead. Yes, Nehru, Indira, and Rajiv were charismatic leaders, they were crowd pullers and were masters of converting votes from the crowd they gathered, but there is zero charisma one can find in Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka, forget them being voter collectors.
As discussed earlier the Indian voter has moved forward drastically in the last decade, and he doesn’t consider which family has done what for the country in the past, he considers the present performance, the current performance by a party or its candidate. To be very honest the Gandhis are now the biggest liability on Congress’ shoulders as they are neither charismatic, nor crowd pullers and nor vote converters, and these are not pure assumptions as their records speak the volumes about their capabilities.
Forget winning elections, their failures (or blunders) within the party are also destroying this more than hundred years political institution if not slowly than surely. The way Congress party has handled the Punjab crisis most recently is the biggest example of the incompetency shown by the Gandhi family. How can someone like Captain Amrinder Singh, the two times Chief Minister be removed just to lure Navjot Singh Sidhu who joined the party just a few years back? And what happened after the removal of Captain Amrinder Singh? Navjot Singh Sidhu himself resigned from the post of state Congress president because he wasn’t made the Punjab CM. If this is not the blunder by Gandhis then what it is? Please throw some light in the comments section.
After both Lok Sabha Elections in 2014 and 2019, the Congress Presidents in Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi resigned from their positions but both made a comeback as well. Congress should see beyond Gandhi family and should put someone dynamic to take the charge of the party. This can be done only if they dare to dream that no Gandhi family member is a Congress president and yet they are winning elections.
Something like that has already started to happen with the G23 group is making noises often. One would believe that on the day this G23 group gets substantial and strong support from the Congress cadre we will see that the Congress leadership is going to get changed forever and also the philosophy that having only a Gandhi family member as Congress president can only win the elections.
Bring Forward Fresh Ideas
Although this can be done only if they remove the Gandhis from the top position of the party because they are the ones who want to live in the past and don’t allow others to get fresh ideas of politics. The fresh idea of new era politics is not limited to troll opposition leaders on social media, but it goes beyond that. The new era of politics is to strengthen the cadre that will go to the grassroots level and educate the voter about Congress’ people-friendly policies and expose the mistakes made by the current government. An election manifesto every five years will not make you win 272 seats in the Lok Sabha in the current era, but five years of hard work within the people of India will certainly put you closer to that magical figure. If it is possible Congress and its top leaders must take the BJP’s rise from mere two seats to a huge 305 in 35 years as a case study. One can learn from the opposition’s qualities as well and nothing wrong in that.
Apart from this Congress must stop blaming EVMs after losing each and every election. People are aware that in 2004 and in 2009 Congress won the elections with these EVMs only. Accept defeat gracefully not only inside the Congress HQ but also in public and only then they can win the trust of people because by blaming the EVMs that is just a tool to show the public’s judgment, in a way Congress also blames the people of India for not electing them.
Have a Nationalist Ideology
In recent times Congress has often been found wanting when it comes to proving its nationalist credentials. It is not enough for anyone or any organization to keep on saying that they have played a big part in the country’s freedom struggle and others have not. It is actually a lie to say this because no contribution is big or small if it is for the country’s freedom. It is also not enough that after getting freedom you stop thinking about nationalism and nationalist values, instead, you should start to practice exactly the opposite.
When the surgical strikes happened or when airstrikes happened instead of standing with the national mood Congress started to create doubts about the heroics of our brave jawans. This has to stop in the future because Indians value their brave army, air force and navy extremely high and no matter what the government is there at the center they will always cherish the achievements of our soldiers whenever they fight for our beloved India.
Not only this Congress also criticize India’s diplomatic stands on various international forums and we have noticed that many times Pakistan and China take advantage of Congress’s negative stand on national issues and make it part of their false propaganda that is targeted against India. In past no matter what amount of difference in opinion, the opposition and opposition leaders had with the governments they have always stood by the government of the day when the question aroused the national interest.
The Congress party must rethink its international policies and should get rid of their current policy that says, “whatever Narendra Modi does we must oppose it.”
Be Secular in True Sense
The biggest reason for the decline of Congress is its pseudo-secular culture. By wooing minorities after 1992 Congress has slowly lost its majority supporter base to the BJP, and yet the party still believes that it can return to power with the support of the minorities only. For Congress, secularism is to stand with minorities’ stand no matter whether their demand or expectations are right or not. By committing this mistake regularly the majority of our nation feels that they have been hard done by the Congress and have stopped voting for them and that means advantage BJP because has been largely talking about the majority people for the last few decades.
So for Congress, if it believes in secularism then it must act as a secular party and show it that the rule of law is the same for everyone no matter whether it is applied to a majority community or a minority community. Congress must also understand that even minority votes are divided within many other regional and national parties but most of the majority vote is still with the BJP only and it can take advantage of that, but only if it stops wooing minorities and ignoring majority sentiments.
Dare to Fight Alone
We have seen that in states like UP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal, despite being the national party and having a national presence just to gain a few seats in Lok Sabha or respective state assemblies Congress has no problem in playing the second fiddle to the local parties. This has to stop if Congress wants to make a grand comeback in Indian electoral politics. It has to show the dare to fight alone and be ready to accept the result and work on it again if the results are not in its favor and then try to win again alone!
Such an exercise needs huge time and requires unlimited patience, which Congress should give itself if it wants to keep its relevance in Indian politics. Don’t become the B team of any local political party, ask for an equal number of seats if at all Congress want a coalition in the future, but if insulted like in Bihar last year, the party should be prepared to fight alone. This will have a huge impact on people’s minds and slowly that can turn the votes in favor of Congress thinking that they are voting for a strong party. But, again it may take years of patience and a renewed Congress minus Gandhi family can only do that.
Again, these views are of a staunch Modi fan and core BJP voter, who wants Indian democracy to become a mature one in its 75th year of independence, so that both ruling and main opposition party can work together for the betterment of India and someday India can become a responsible superpower for which we and our forefathers have dreamed of.
04th October 2021, Monday