New Delhi, (Aryavarth): However and whatever diehard supporters of other parties say about Congress, India cannot be unbundled from Congress and Congress from India. Making India Congress Mukt, may not be the best thing for our democracy, for a strong opposition keeps the ruling party in check. The nudges, pushes and jabs give vibrancy to democracy. A democracy without a strong opposition is a masked autocracy, which is seen in countries like Singapore. We need, the Congress party, as it is the only National Party, other are at least a decade off from making one.
No party can forever don the citadel, Congress itself is an excellent example of this. Or be at the bottom, the Bhartiya Jana Sangh and the BJP are good examples. All stories face eventual saturation, the Congress did, and so will BJP. It’s a universal cycle; what goes up, comes down.
It will be impossible to believe that the BJP led by Modi and Amit Shah will have the three-decade run as the Congress did after 1947. The Indian electoral seem to be more amenable to giving a ten-year slot to parties, which is a sign of maturity as five-year stint may not be enough.
Politics is a game of interaction, and with social media, this is played in real-time. BJP was the first to modernize and use this platform, the Congress and other parties joined the bandwagon late. Now BJP is not the only one who is active on social media, Rahul Gandhi’s triage against PM Modi on Twitter, shows the newfound tool being used by other parties. Rahul’s tweets and video’s does remind the government that someone is interpreting their moves differently, than what they portray.
In the year 1984, BJP won only two seats in the Lok Sabha, a veteran like A.B. Vajpayee was defeated too. The BJP achieved a meteoric rise after that, it again suffered setbacks in 2004 and 2009. And then a spectacular comeback in 2014 and 2019. Thus, It will be naïve to write off the Congress party, the political biggies of BJP understand this cycle, and hence they continuously keep on targeting Congress, and making people remember mistakes done by Nehru 50 years back.
The Congress party has gone through difficult phases in the past, made changes and regained the confidence of voters. It has its share of mistakes and victories, years of rule, did make it arrogant, and people expressed their displeasure. As on date, in half of the states, Congress is the ruling party or the main opposition party to the BJP. A trend to watch is that BJP as a party has not won any state election on its own since 2017.
Congress is not a cadre-based party, unlike BJP. It is a melting pot for local leaders and regional bosses. These strongmen were at the helm of factions with their MLAs and MPs and continuously did things to maintain their fiefdom. These factions are driven by power and make no amends in fighting for it. This is evident in the current power struggle in Rajasthan.
The solution is not to become a cadre-based party like BJP, the way forward is to deliver to people’s mandate like AAP and then go for a vote. National Parties with a single line of command, may not be able to attract influential local leaders. The latter can drive change and transformation, for any political party, the choice is to balance between strength of local leaders and agreeableness to the central leadership.
The pressure on the ruling party is very high, as COVID has chipped away India’s growth, the scars of COVID on the economy will take two-three years to fix. It will be difficult for BJP to fulfil all electoral promises by 2024, and a rising opposition and regional parties could gain from the anti-incumbency vote and hit the BJP bastion. If the Indian electorate were to look for an alternative to the BJP, in many states, they would turn to the Congress or the regional parties. In many states, the local parties, have come closer to the Congress party as they see it as more adjustable then BJP. The way treated them in allocating Ministerial berths at the center after 2019 elections, may not have been forgotten.
The current crisis in Congress is unprecedented, exacerbated by the party’s inability to resolve the leadership issue since its record defeat in 2019. Congress has two options to reinvent, either resolve the crisis and reinvent or face a split. It needs an infusion of fresh blood, creative ideas, and some institutional reforms.
The congress party should focus on comparing the states where it is in power to the states where the opposition is in control, they should copy the AAP template and focus on education and medical to drive electoral love.