A Dying Dynasty?
Indian National Congress (INC) – the oldest political party of India that led the South Asian nation to Independence from Great Britain – was founded on December 28, 1885 at the initiative of retired Civil Service officer Allan Octavian Hume. Since India’s Independence in 1947, the INC – generally considered to be on the Centre-Left of Indian Politics – has given seven Prime Ministers, the first among them being Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-64) and the most recent Dr Manmohan Singh (2004-14), to the country. The Grand Old Party, seemingly, has lost its relevance in the National Politics, gradually! Although it did not fare well in the last two General Elections in India (44 seats in the 543-member Lower House of the Parliament) in 2014 and (52 seats) in 2019, the INC still remains as one of two major Political Outfits, nationwide! Naturally, the Party Leaders are worried about its (recent) performance nowadays.
Allan Octavian Hume
However, the INC High Command’s reaction (after this debacle) is more tragic than the electoral defeat… after the 2019 Parliamentary Polls, People across the Country have realised that (perhaps) it would not be possible for INC President Rahul Gandhi to win the battle against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It does not mean that INC would be able to beat Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in next General Elections only by replacing Rahul Gandhi with a new Party President. Such a thought would be oversimplification of the issue. Other Congress leaders are not ready to accept the challenge. That is why they tried to convince Rahul Gandhi to change his decision after the latter hinted that he might resign as the Party President (taking all the responsibilities of the electoral debacle)!
One can easily assume that there are two reasons behind this development… firstly, no one possibly has summed up the courage to take charge of the wheel of a sinking ship. Secondly, senior Congress leaders are trying to hide the Party’s internal conflicts, by showing loyalty to Rahul Gandhi, as it possibly has become easier for them to make the Party President a scapegoat after their poor show in the recently-concluded 17th Parliamentary Elections (in order to defend their personal failures)…
This may be seen as an old trend (of the Congress Party)… India has had its share of experiencing the outcome of over-dependence on the Nehru-Gandhi Family many a times in the past. The problem is that Rahul Gandhi’s leadership is seen failing to aid the INC in gaining the trust of the people… and, not a single party leader is willing to replace him! To choose an alternative way to ensure a comeback, a Party should have the courage and capacity to think out of box and act accordingly! Instead of one person, a group of Senior Leaders can perform the duty of the Party President. In that case, the High Command may temporarily be replaced by a Presidium System (if needed), and the Group would monitor effectively the different activities pertaining to the Party! Whether the members of the Nehru-Gandhi Family will find their places in that group is a secondary issue. The Congress is suffering because of the ‘single leadership’ problem, and the party can overcome this by stepping out of its tradition (read Dynastic Leadership).
Rahul Gandhi with his mother Sonia Gandhi, the former President of the INC.
It is quite natural that the Party Leadership will respond to the Electoral Defeat… in 2014, the leadership did not respond in a proper way, and that might be a reason for the defeat this time! However, it is also important that how the party would respond to this! It is evident from Rahul Gandhi’s decision to quit as Party President that the Congress leadership has become somewhat directionless (especially after facing defeat for the second time in last five years).
Rahul Gandhi’s indication to quit the post of Party President is one side of the drama, while on the other side is the leadership’s decision of not sending spokespersons on television debates for a month. The second decision has been made, as any indiscreet comment by the spokespersons might create further trouble for Rahul Gandhi in the coming days!
The top Congress leadership should remember that it would be suicidal, if they play with PM Modi’s agendas! The party will have to reconsider whether the Dynastic Politics really damages its performance. It is not because the ruling party is against Dynastic Politics, but for their own sake… Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Chief of Rashtriya Janata Dal Party, recently said that if INC would choose a Party President outside the Nehru-Gandhi Family, the ruling party might project the person as a ‘puppet’! The comment is significant! Instead, the Congress should think about the mistakes it had made and strive to correct them…
It is unfortunate that the Oldest Party has failed to trigger a movement in the last 10 years. There should be a balance between the Party’s interests, and the National Interests. The Congress leaders will have to go the people in order to gain their trust… but, the leaders will have to think about it and decide first whether they are prepared to do that… and, it is also crucial for the Party to keep its current vote-banks intact, as nearly 12 million Indians cast their votes in favour of the Congress in 2019 Parliamentary Polls. It seems that the Grand Old Party cannot ensure a better future only by changing the Party President…
Once, Mahatma Gandhi was heard mentioning: “The purer the suffering the greater is the progress.” We can hope that the Party would follow Matahma’s advice, and move forward!
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