The election results have put a huge question mark over the word, “national”, in the Indian National Congress. With less than fifty seats in the 16th Lok Sabha, it has no moral claim to define itself as a national party. The Congress has a past, it has no present. For this plight, the Congress has only its leadership to blame. The principal problem of the Congress is that it is trapped in a time warp. This odd situation makes it talk in terms of a clichéd ideology, makes it depend on one family, and, most importantly, divorces it completely from a young India that is more interested in the future of India than the past. The Congress has been devastated because it failed to speak to the aspirations of the people of India. The Congress leadership — Sonia and Rahul Gandhi — completely failed to comprehend the changes that have overtaken India. Their language was last year’s words, and hence not understood and rejected by this year’s people.
The central issue before the voters was the one relating to the economy. The Congress addressed the problem by trying to realign and streamline the channels of distribution of wealth and resources. It did not speak about the production of wealth. Thus, the Congress leadership, guided by a kind of vague leftism, spoke in terms of the doling out of subsidies or of policies that were tantamount to the redistribution of poverty, not of wealth. The India of 2014 is weary of this kind of talk and ideology. It wants to see advancements in production, the creation of jobs and a better future. The people heard in the campaign of Narendra Modi an echo of their own hopes and aspirations. To counter this, the Congress could only speak of Mr Modi’s past. The election campaign was a battle between harking back to the past and aspiring for a better future. It was a battle whose outcome had been foretold. But the Congress leadership, deaf to all else save its own ideology and vested interests, failed to hear the tocsin. It was rejected, and the people elected Mr Modi with a decisiveness last witnessed in 1984. The Congress now lies stunned.
One reason why the Congress has been impervious to changes is its complete dependence on one family for leadership and wisdom. The Indian National Congress has ceased to be a political party. It is now a dynasty-driven political formation. A terrible testimony of this is the fact that in Uttar Pradesh, the only two seats the Congress won are those of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Below the two of them there are no leaders because none have been encouraged lest they become challengers to Mr Gandhi. The attitude of the Gandhi duo to the people of India was manifest in their refusal to take questions after the post-election press conference. It appeared that they believe they are not accountable to anyone save themselves. The people of India have answered back.