What does the future hold for the Congress?

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After experiencing its worst political performance in history, the Congress has been far from humble. Its spokespersons promised that it would be a constructive opposition (although it remains to be seen as to who will actually be the opposition party). Under Rahul Gandhi, it has been decimated in most states and its future is bleak. Loyalists and sitting MPs deserted the party once it was established that the Gandhi brigade was staring at a defeat at the hands of a formidable opposition. Is there a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel for the INC?

Upon realizing their decreasing significance among the Indian masses, the party has realized how it failed to capture the minds of the voters. Its populist schemes have yielded nothing but greater scope for corruption and a decreasing relevance of the middle class in the economy. It must understand how its policies and loyalties were wrongly placed before its future is in limbo. Congress has drifted far-off and has attained a left-of-centre position. Its programs were largely aimed at providing subsidies instead of generating employment. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The government has been falling in a debt trap generated by the Congress’ subsidy for vote scheme. So how should the party re-invent itself?

First of all, the party must sit back and watch for the next five years as the BJP government plans to reboot the economy. It must re-acquire its old credentials and lose its leftwards aligned ideology. It must shed the petty vote-bank politics and quit instilling fear of the right-wing BJP among the Muslims. They have bright minds and youth leaders who can make a much-needed difference to its future. Egos and infighting should be shunned and the party must project a united image. After its rout, it has been quick to criticize the BJP even before it settles in and has seen blame-games instead of introspection.

The time has passed when the Great Family was the glue that kept the party together. Party cadres have expressed their grievances against the leadership of Mr. Gandhi, although it has been muted. The party that ran the world’s largest democracy is itself a monarchy and its members themselves fail to understand its shortcomings. If the Congress has to make a comeback, which is imperative for the country, it must differentiate itself from the family and allow regional bigwigs to exercise their clout albeit, through democratic procedures. It blamed the BJP for its one-man worship but failed to grasp the irony. If recent occurrences are anything to go by, every party worker must have realized that Rahul Gandhi is more of a liability than an asset.

Thus, regional leaders have called upon the Family to bring to the fore Rahul’s sister, Priyanka, always going into a self-appointed political exile. Like Modi’s 2002, Priyanka carries with herself a blot, none other than her own husband Mr. Robert Vadra. His shady land-deals have fooled no one. But then, why should there be only a family member who should take charge. Don’t they have other talented leaders? There is no dearth of talent or leadership qualities among the Congress. If only the party’s big shots can agree upon a name, Congress becomes the most formidable party on paper. However, this remains a distant dream which may never be realized.

The fact is that the country needs both the rightist BJP and the so-called centrist Congress. All others are dispensable. Neither the BJP, nor the Congress must have a free run at government without the presence of each other. The concept of an intimidating opposition is not lost on anyone. For the sake of the country it so dearly exploited, the Congress must shed its dynastic nature and instead move towards a much more holistic approach of allowing internal elections like they do in the US. Its ideas of pseudo-secularism and Muslim favourtism along with a subsidy culture must be shed. In order to reappear as a horse in the next elections, it must constantly keep the BJP on its heels and let democratisation engulf it. Unless the party itself isn’t democratic in a true sense, how can it make the country democratic in any sense?

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