Cleaved Congress And Granny’s Cookbook

R K Misra

If you want to be loved, you must have the guts to be hated.This is a salacious irony of present-day politics.As India luxuriates in the resurrection of the common man-aam aadmi- at the cost of the saffronised elite, there is need to look at the debris of the deathblow debacle that the Delhi poll results meted out  to the Congress.

Just one blow to the BJP and a worried RSS has it’s leader Mohan Bhagwat hauling his own team over the coals for their inability to sniff the disaster that was looming .The defeat of the BJP and the deflating of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ego and image may be cause for strategic concern. But, more than that, what has both shaken and stirred Bhagwat is the inability of his dependable army of selfless RSS workers, in gauging the alienation on the ground. They were over 50,000 strong, deployed on ground zero  and failed. Why? This is what bothers Bhagwat. He needs to, if he must protect a legacy and project a perception built over decades.

So does the Congress, steadily sinking in the quagmire, yet reluctant to even raise it’s head and look around.
The Narendra Modi led BJP government  may be the butt of jokes on the social media for it’s inability to deliver development (Vikas) over a full term pregnancy period-nine months-but the Congress seems stricken enough to  even defer waking  up from last year’s defeat induced stupor.

The reasons are not far to seek. And there are parallels in what was happening in Gujarat and ultimately proved infectious in the country. It was this prevarication which cost the Congress in Gujarat, led to the rise of Narendra Modi and ultimately to the fall of the Congress led UPA government, from both power at the centre and people’s esteem and is now facing the ignominy of being wiped out of existence in Delhi.

Few would remember when the Congress last came to power in Gujarat on its own steam. It was a quarter of a century ago. The record continues to be held by Madhavsinh Solanki who retained power in Gujarat in the 1985 Assembly elections, bagging a record 148 of the total 182 seats only to be unceremoniously uprooted by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and replaced by Amarsinh Chaudhary. Solanki was brought back three months before the 1990 Assembly elections but it was too late and the Congress went out of power, to be replaced by a Janata Party-BJP coalition government in Gujarat. Subsequently, Patel broke free of both the Janata Party and the BJP restraint to form a regional party, Janata Dal-Gujarat. This party ultimately merged into the Congress, bringing the party to power in the state. Congress again held the reigns of power albeit indirectly when BJP leader Shankersinh Vaghela rebelled to eject his own party government headed by Keshubhai Patel in 1995.

Vaghela at the head of a regional party formed a government with Congress support. On both the occasions  the Congress came to power in Gujarat through the backdoor, it was sent cart wheeling out  in the Assembly elections that followed. Its fate remains so to this day.

A lack of consistency and decisiveness has been the bane of the Congress in Gujarat. It is the same process, which is proving to be  the undoing of the party at the Centre.

Arjun Modvadia submitted his resignation as Gujarat Congress chief  in 2012 after the debacle in the Assembly polls but no decision has been taken on it yet. Delhi never allowed strong regional leaders to flourish. After Shankersinh Vaghela joined the party, he had created ‘Shaktidal’, a uniformed set up of youth to combat the BJP cadres. Within a short span, the strength of the dal crossed a lakh  and gave Modi sleepless nights as it engaged  their cadres in shows of strength. However, the internal machinations, forced Vaghela to disband the dal and the Congress lost the combative edge.

Rahul Gandhi would need to  go no further than his own grandmother for lessons in reviving  the Congress. In fact ,he began in right earnest when he started rebuilding the moribund Youth Congress through membership drives and grass root elections. The impact was visible in Gujarat when a predominant presence of youth began to be seen in public meetings and padyatras but the experiment seemed to have been abandoned half way through its progress. This was unlike Indira Gandhi. On many occasions, Indira Gandhi walked straight into formidable resistance by the old guards led by the likes of Morarji Desai, Nijalingappa and Atulya Ghosh (the Congress-O or Syndicate Congress) as it came to be known. Each time she would take on the old guard, she created a new team for the party. Written off, every time there was a set-back for her, she came riding back to power after decimating her opponents.

The ejection of the Congress from power in the last General Elections is seen by many here as a heaven-sent opportunity for Rahul Gandhi. He should utilize this chance to rebuild the party from scratch, whatever time it takes, more in keeping with the aspirations of a young India. The need is to take a leaf out of his grandmother’s political book and get to work. It can’t get any worse, so no harm in dumping all the old  ‘obstructions’ and going back to the drawing board with a new team to fashion a new party. If you don’t, you perish .

Necessity never made a good bargain. Those who go out  journeying on an ass, cannot come back riding a horse!

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