Narendra Modi has been sworn in as chief minister for the third time, and, next time round, it will be the Bharatiya Janata Party, not the Congress, which will try and grab that seat from him lest he becomes the absolute leader in the party. Modi has won with a huge majority in a free election. Gujaratis want him and now they have got him for five long years.
Contrastingly, the Indian National Congress, which once had a presence all over India, and boasted of consummate leaders in every state, has destroyed its own strengths, jeopardized internal unity, and reneged on the many commitments that it had made. To stall the fall every now and again, Congress leaders attempted to hijack popular agendas framed by opposing parties, thereby weakening its own position.
Having failed in this, party leaders began to stab each other in the back, jockeying not for power but for favour, entrenching themselves in the capital to engage in politics rather than working to rule. As a result, wheeling and dealing came to be celebrated within the portals of the party headquarters even as senior leaders began to rapidly lose their connectivity with the ground reality in India. Instead, they devoted all their energies to ensure that they remain in power so that they could enjoy luxuries such as government houses, subsidized cars and other perks. The Gandhis are the only recognized and trusted faces, wholly committed to keep the Congress alive, and loyal to its original ethos, the shenanigans of the countless party loyalists notwithstanding.
Time to change
Some of the visible leaders of the Congress are not even loyal. They are responsible for having reduced the party and its machinery to a rudderless ship, devoid of direction and the fire that are required to attract voters. There is neither any passion nor a sense of determination to defeat the opposition. Rhetorical thinking and lethargic action have become the mantra of the Congress. The party has not ruled Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu for years now, making it a failed entity in over fifty percent of the constituencies of our polity. The Congress is neither a regional party nor a national party of any real consequence. Today, it is left with two options — either to continue destroying itself till it passes into oblivion or to radically reinvent itself on a war footing. This is because at this point in its life, the party has nothing to lose by reckless risk-taking.
Allocate one young leader to each state, someone who is not weighed down by past baggages, and is comparatively clean. Train that individual and give the person tacit party support. Do not allow internal squabbles to fill the ears of the high command to discredit those who are willing to take the challenge. The best amongst them should be given exalted positions far away from the scene of action.
There is more. Compel the local leaders to live in their allocated states and not in Delhi. Make them accountable. Their mandate should be clear — deliver in the state. Allocate ten accountable office-bearers to each constituency with the order to build the organization’s base on the principles of merit and without nepotism. Begin regular roadshows with local leaders who speak the local language. Use Modi’s organizational strategy. Vasundhara Raje is already in election mode in Rajasthan and will probably win again, despite a huge anti-incumbency factor, mainly because the anointed opponent and elderly Congress leader, Ashok Gehlot, lives and operates from Delhi. There seems to be no new face or fresh energy in the Congress’s ranks.
The Central cabinet in Delhi needs a dramatic and radical overhaul, not a reshuffle, if trust, faith and hope are to be rekindled. Call a spade a spade. Kill the cover-up. Act.