By MR LALU
India’s modern political history is largely a portrayal of the activities of the Congress party. It had remained a platform of mobilization for the country’s quest for freedom. It was nurtured by great personalities and it sustained as an idea of togetherness for long, encapsulating indomitable power to shake the East India Company’s colonial dominance. The Indian National Congress (INC) epitomized the soft face of the ideals that India represented. The party that Mahatma Gandhi wanted to be wrapped up when the long-struggled freedom was achieved, did continue to grow as a political power stretching its hands across India. The political upscaling of the Congress was consistent for decades until it began to shudder in the saffron storm that the country came across in 2014. That was the strongest ever shake the party bumped into and the one from which it failed to come out. For Gandhi, the purpose of Congress’s existence was fulfilled on the day when India became free. He questioned the need of the party in a free India. Probably he could forecast the inevitable fall of the Congress passing through generations. “Congress Mukt Bharat” was the political slogan with which Narendra Modi’s saffron hurricane hit the shore of India’s election campaign. He seems to have discovered the USP in propagating this idea of an India without Congress or the corruptive mindset that he later intelligently tried to correct it as and declared that the country wanted to get rid of it. Whatever, the Congress in India, though it has a credible vote share, has almost disappeared from the power politics that it enjoyed for generations. Gandhi indeed wanted the idea of Congress that he and his cohorts of those days fostered to exist as an organization focused on the social, moral and economic freedom of the people, especially for the underprivileged and the rural poor.
The Congress party’s drubbing in the state elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa once again made the party think in sustainable lines to find solutions for its revival. The party leadership knows it is frequently biting dust in every election. Not only with the BJP but its fights against the regional parties have also been hitting its prospects hard. The party began to shrink into its delicate self, unable to withstand the consistent electoral debacles. It is important for the Congress leadership to take its last shot from the quiver to cure the party before it takes its last breath. You may call this situation the party’s existential crisis. It must be unthinkable for the party which ruled India for decades, falling into the level of complete insignificance and oblivion. Everything started in 2014 and the Congress had the harshest of the falls that it ever had. The Modi juggernaut was the blow that left it with broken bones and bleeding skin giving it nightmares on a daily basis. The Congress is still unable to scale the unfathomable depth into which it has fallen. Its complete dependence on the trinity from the dynasty for years remains a bitter reality. It probably sees nothing but darkness without the dynasty. The trinity understands the party’s compulsions and the leadership circling the orbit of servitude around the trinity also understands it well.
Don’t get misguided by the use of the word trinity here multiple times. It is the mother and children representing the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that the Congress is destined to lean on. The party’s headquarters at the 24 Akbar Road in New Delhi these days is gloomy and remorseful for various reasons. Every election brings the party a reason to recollect, recompose and regret. The main reason is its failure but its inability to find the reality behind its rigidity must be driving its leadership crazy. The party establishment is trying to knock on the doors of political strategists like Prashant Kishor to find a calculable and viable solution in the direction of its revival. Spending most of her life between the walls of her residence, Sonia Gandhi began to assume a role in political life after the death of her husband Rajiv Gandhi. Her stint as the party president from April 1998 was full of political experiments and expectations. No doubt, the lady with limited idea about the impulses that India was, managed to pull her party a long way through ups and downs. More than two decades of her presidency was accepted and appreciated at times and critically put for evaluation. She could metaphorically make the historic sacrifice that she is reported to have made denouncing the chair of the country’s prime minister. For an enthralled Congress leadership, she was the incarnation of divinity in its femininity capable of transforming the party’s destiny unchallenged, unparalleled and unbreakable. The dynasty’s pursuit of finding an heir apparent to hold the heaviness of the grand old party naturally directed its fingers on Rahul Gandhi. A natural choice for the party, the young and dynamic Rahul Gandhi, with his visibly scanty maturity to run a complexity such as Congress had trembled, stumbled and mumbled while experiencing the storm that the people of the country described- the saffron tide.
It was not only Modi that Rahul Gandhi and the trinity had to take on. The gigantic Sangh Parivar, with its ideological intricacies essentially confusing and complicated to the dynasts, stretched its wings everywhere. Still unable to fathom the depth and veracity of the narratives that the Parivar scripted against the party, the trinity frequently convulsed in confusion. The second innings of Modi could shatter the influence of the Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka trinity almost completely. The recently held elections in the five states came as a testimony for the Congress and its unquestionable trinity coming face to face seeking answers to the uncomfortable questions that the G-23 has been asking. The dynasty, habituated to swallow praises in full length from the planets surrounding it in the orbits of servitude and surrender, began to see irritable goose bumps giving it itchy tickles. Without wasting time, unconventional to the principle of the dynasty, it offered to make a ‘sacrifice’ of the highest order in the form of resignation which the planets in the CWC rejected outrightly. The unquestionable dominance of the Nehru-Gandhi family remained for decades and the Congress is still running the train on the same track consecrated by the dynasts.
The party’s experiment in Uttar Pradesh with the third person in the dynasty, Priyanka Vadra had an unpleasant ending. It collapsed in all seats except in two where it managed to gain a skinny majority. The Congress and the dynasty waited for long before they decided to bring the Vadra brand to the forefront. As of now the party and the trinity are convinced to the extent of realizing that the revival of the Congress is an uphill task and there is no presentable face except those sunken three in the dynasty that could do anything to satisfy the party’s withering hopes. Now the party is left with no choice but to compulsively repose its faith in the family after every defeat with no murmur of discontent. Though there are demands for a reliable titivation inside the party, its leadership is clueless as to what should be the strategy in case of it nosedives in the coming elections. The BJP, with its massive political machinery, is all set to win the 2024 general elections and the state elections that are due including the one in Gujarat. The Congress on the other hand is banking on its fading trinity.
(Author is freelance journalist and social worker based in Kerala. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])