The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, after its first tenure in office, won a second mandate with decisive numbers. Then, in the course of its second term, it became a cesspool of inaction, corruption and faulty practices. No attempt was made to restructure the processes and mechanisms for delivering services to the poor and the less privileged populations of this country, for whom many welfare initiatives were established. This resulted in vast wastages and corruption, and the ‘good intentions’ of those in power got translated into severely bad practices. Those walking in the corridors of power, oblivious to truth and reality, exuded arrogance and were unwilling to acknowledge what was going wrong. They scornfully brushed aside any and all critical appraisal. They are bound to pay a huge price within the next few months for being responsible for the sort of governance the country was subjected to.
Words cannot re-build a party, nor can mere good intentions. In the information age, politics and its modalities have also undergone a change and need to be redesigned. Large rallies are not of consequence anymore except as celebratory events where people congregate to salute possible winners and icons. The door to door meeting with families and individuals, spread over months prior to the polling day, and walking through villages to meet people in panchayat compounds and listen to them, have a far greater impact and allow the voters to feel they are participants in the process of change and growth. Spending money to ‘buy’ people, their sentiments and their commitment is insulting and has no real place in the changing politics of our time.
To craft and define a campaign strategy with a predictable ‘manifesto’, is no longer valid. There has to be hard work and real engagement. For a start, the Congress needs to turn itself inside out if it has to resurrect itself. Why is it so difficult for Rahul Gandhi, who has been handed the baton by Sonia Gandhi, to dramatically restructure the party he leads? Why can he not be perfectly clear about what he wants? Why can he not replace aged leaders with young, able ones in one fell swoop? Why are leaders like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia, along with their peers in other states, not travelling incessantly across their regions to every village panchayat in an effort to make an impact? And most importantly, why does the young Gandhi scion not communicate his position on all national issues to the people of India, on a regular basis? Instead of only talking about the ‘poor’ and their plight, why not empower the tribal communities and a neglected mass of people residing in rural areas, by creating infrastructure and a market for their traditional skills? This will mobilize a latent workforce to generate employment and wealth.
Why has the Congress compromised on real economics? Is it because the leadership does not understand India and its strengths? Or is it because the country is dictated to by other neo-colonial powers in order to support its market economics? Why are indigenous skills and information technology always left on the back burner as far as the country’s failed economic model is concerned?
I also wonder why the education system in India has being allowed to become a stepping-stone to a state of intellectual mediocrity. Why has the administrative arm of the government been encouraged to exploit and destroy all forward thinking and creativity by killing enterprise with untenable rules and norms that urgently need to be rewritten?
It is never too late. After a crippling defeat in 1977 for the Congress, Indira Gandhi romped home, victorious, less than two years later.