Is Congress being dissolved?

January 9, 2017 OPINION/NEWS

AFP photo

 

By

Siddhartha Rastogi

On the eve of his assassination on 29th Jan 1948, Gandhi wrote “ Though split into two, India having attained political independence through means devised by the Indian National Congress, the Congress in its present shape and form, i.e., as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine, has outlived its use.”

India has still to’ attain social, moral and economic independence in terms of its seven hundred thousand villages as distinguished from its cities and towns. The struggle for the ascendency of ‘civil over military power is bound to take place in India’s progress towards its democratic goal. It must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies. For these and other similar reasons, the A.I.C.C. resolves to disband the existing Congress organization and flower into a Lok Sevak Sangh under the following rules with power to alter them as occasion may demand.”

Mahatma Gandhi wanted the Indian National Congress to be dissolved post India’s independence from British Rule. He believed the very purpose for which the Congress Party came into existence had been achieved. He also knew the core on which the Congress Party had been formed was on strike, Dharnas, non-cooperation, organizing mobs, etc. Which will not be needed in independent India.

Gandhi had asked all the top Congress leaders to dissolve the party and form a new organization to serve the people. He told them that the task of the INC was to fight for the freedom and liberation of India from the shackles of the British which has been achieved by the latter and now it’s time to hand over the powers to Indians.

But time and Congress leaders had different plans and the party continued to rule and govern the country.

Immediately after independence, Congress had very little political resistance and enjoyed almost no opposition at the centre for almost two and a half decades. Most of the states also came under the shield of Congress due to lack of choice. As the choices in states grew, with the rise of the communist party in Kerala, Congress in 1954 was thrown out of power. Congress did manage a comeback but Communists never allowed successive terms for Congress. This trend continued in other states as well.

Over the years, Congress continued to make a comeback everytime the local state party / single opposition party finished its term.

Then the next trend started, where a third major political party came into existence in states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, etc. In all the multiparty states, Congress was pretty much decimated over the years, which continued to rely on dynasty politics.

Beyond the Nehru Gandhi family, most prominent Youth leaders in congress continued the legacy of their parents and enjoyed heavyweight posts within the party. Karti Chidambaram, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada, Milind Deora, Sandeep Dikshit, and Gourav Gogoi are all examples of legacy politics.

As of yesterday, out of 36 states and Union territories, Congress rule exists in 7 with 2 additional states as junior partner. Out of these 7 states, 2 more states are going for elections in the next 30 days. Most exit polls show Congress losing in both Uttarakhand and Manipur.

Also in 3 other states where elections have been announced, Congress is not showing any significant traction, if one were to go by exit polls and mood of the voters.

 

Enough of Commentary.

Let’s tackle two important questions –

 

 What went wrong?

 

  • Lack of thought out strategy envisioning the changes which will happen in future.

  • No strong grass roots leader given by Youth / Students wing of Congress and accepted & projected by AICC.

 

Let me explain this by using some current examples:

Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in India sends the maximum number of MPs and has 403 assembly constituencies. Congress entered the UP Elections foray much before any other party. A rift between Father and Son in the Yadav clan (Samajwadi Party) was visible. Despite the fact that Sheila Dikshit was launched in the UP as Chief ministerial candidate, having no connection or support base in the UP. She did a good administrative job in Delhi, creating infrastructure but lost to the AAP after huge anti incumbency. AICC saw Congress getting decimated and hence withdrew her candidature with the possibility of giving prepoll or post poll support to Akhilesh Yadav (if he asks for it). Imagine a strategy based on other party’s moves rather than having your own view of winning or at least fighting elections.

Kanhaiya Kumar the rebel leader from JNU was made the poster boy by the Communist Party, CPI (M), encashing his popularity amongst anti establishment forces and youth of the country. The sad part remains that whenever Congress has brought a fresh face, it has done well not only for the party but for the Indian economy as well. Despite that, no active efforts were made through the years to bring young fresh talent to rejuvenate and re-energise the depressed Congress cadres.

 

How can this be corrected? (Let’s face it; India doesn’t have any other alternative as of now apart from Congress to put a credible opposition to the government).

Bifurcating the Party into a Governing body or think tank of experienced individuals and the executionary party of young dynamic change articulate leaders, who can galvanize the masses. Exactly the way Google / Alphabet has done it.

Google is one of the most innovative and well respected companies in the world. Its founders understood their limitations in doing business and their desire to innovate, hence created Alphabet to make sure profitable businesses of Google are managed professionally under young dynamic leadership without interfering in day to day affairs, with total control on shareholding. Alphabet continues to give broad directions to Google, whilst execution, decision making, implementation, accountability rests with the professional team of Google.

Another methodology is the ladder approach. Congress can bring eloquent speakers and leaders who can bring quick victories and success and dynasty, then can come back in front with actual political powers. This stopgap arrangement can actually be tested in Uttar Pradesh, where Congress is left with no choice but to get decimated or be a junior party. It has 29 seats in UP, SP in the best case would not give more than 60 or 70 seats to Congress. This means if Congress wins 50% of the seats it fought; it would arrive at the same number. Rather it should experiment with a new quick face and try and turn the wave.

If Congress doesn’t act fast and implement out of box ideas quickly, cutting the Politics within the party, it’s quite possible that by 2020, Mahatma’s words could come true and Congress will only be found in the books of history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Siddhartha Rastogi

Siddhartha Rastogi

Siddhartha was born to a learned middle class educated family in Semi Urban India. His father was an extremely honest man who because of his honesty had to pay the price in corporate world. Mother is a determined woman who ensured that children are being well taken care off. After a few years of birth, doctors called Siddhartha, a slow child having flat foot. He would fall more than he could walk. Determined mother ensured all therapies for her son to come out strong to fight the world. Siddhartha joined swimming when he was in 6th standard. Seeing other children of his class, he jumped in 10 feet deep pool and learnt swimming on his own, the very same day.

From that day there was no looking back. He topped his city in 12th and went to score highest in his B school exams. During his profession as banker, he became youngest branch manager of a MNC bank managing their biggest wealth branch in the country. There he found love of his life and got married. His love of his life emerged in the form of his daughter who completely changed him for good.

Siddhartha Rastogi is Director for a boutique Investment bank in India.

Siddhartha is a forward looking thinker & writer who has written a book on decision making. 8 Simple steps to effective decision making.

He writes on various social and current issues via his blog and can also be found on twitter.

1 Comment

  1. P C K PREM January 10, at 05:08

    It is a fine analysis. Politics if personalized does not help people. It is merely self-promotion. Commitment to a principled politics survives. Unfortunately, contemporary politicians are more worried about 'the self' than 'the objective', the objective of service to the people. Yes, degeneration is eating the vitals of political life and politicians'ethical areas around the world. Perhaps, yes, perhaps one day, someone will listen. It is not adequate to talk of good and clean public life...but those who tell need to inculcate good qualities of life at the personal level. It does not exist...well the end is predictable.

    Reply

Leave a Reply