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For The Sake Of The Nation, Congress Needs To Dump The Dynasty

For The Sake Of The Nation

It is fine for the BJP to talk about a Congress-muktBharat, for every democracy needs a viable and credible opposition.

If Congress needs this place, it has to dump the Dynasty.

The audacious move by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form governments in Goa and Manipur even though it is not the single largest party has got practically everyone, barring Prime Minister Narendra Modi fans and BJP supporters, crying foul.

They are right. Of course, the BJP is playing foul, very foul. Yes, the governor should, going by convention (there is no provision in the Constitution), first invite the single largest party to form the government. Tempting as it is, this article will refrain from indulging in whataboutery on this issue. In any case, others have done so veryeffectively.

Now that the standard lamentations about propriety and convention have been done, let’s ask the most pertinent question – what is the Congress complaining about? That the BJP was the fastest on the draw? That’s like the person losing a race complaining that the winner ran faster.

report in the Indian Express graphically depicts what a clueless Congress was doing even as the BJP acted decisively to anoint a chief minister and start negotiations with other parties. After fighting about who would be chief minister, the Congress held a secret ballot and then sent the results of that ballot to Delhi!

Is there a need for any more evidence that the Congress has lost its touch, allowing the only comforter it got in this round of assembly elections (governments in three out of five states) be snatched away and then bawling about it? The Congress hasnowmoved the Supreme Court against the installation of Manohar Parrikar as chief minister, but that is like bolting the stable after the horse has gone. Even if it does manage to get the swearing in stayed and, later, a decision in its favour, that will not shield it from some inconvenient truths.

That the party which is the originator of practically every bit of skulduggery in Indian politics should be so deftly outmanoeuvred by another party using its own tricks, that the party’s biggest-ever loss in Uttar Pradesh has not jolted it out of stupor makes it an object of pity. Or should one say of amusement?

But actually, there’s a tragedy in this for the country. It is okay for the BJP to talk about a Congress-mukt Bharat, but every democracy needs a viable and credible opposition, whose ideology is markedly different from that of the ruling dispensation. India needs a party to provide a left-of-centre counter to the BJP. If not the Congress, who will occupy this space?

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), despite its own delusions of grandeur and building up by a section of the media, simply cannot. The ideological descendants of Ram Manohar Lohia have sullied his legacy, heading parties that are nothing more than private limited companies to ensure the continued prosperity of a particular family (the Janata Dal United is perhaps an exception on this score). In any case, they are all not even regional, but one-state, players. As for the communists, their chances of succeeding are even dimmer than that of AAP.

So, willy-nilly, it comes back to the Congress, which still has some kind of national outlook and resonance, relative to other parties. But for the Congress to occupy this space, it will need to go back to being the original Congress (from 1885 to 1967). The Dynasty was beginning to take control then, but it was not the family fiefdom it has become today. What the country needs, sorely needs, is a Dynasty-Mukt Congress.

Ramchandra Guha has often said Rahul Gandhi needs to retire from politics. Other commentators have said other young leaders should be given a chance. But this is not something that should be left as a choice for Rahul Gandhi. When other leaders are “given a chance”, it is once again a position bestowed on them by the Dynasty, to whom they will be beholden. Rahul Gandhi needs to be ousted.

The only issue is who will do the ousting. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta so aptly puts it inthisarticle there are no challengers to Rahul Gandhi; “the young guard in the party does not have the courage and risk-taking appetite to revolt against a leader . . . [who] has brought the party to an unprecedented low in UP.” Perhaps this is because most of them are themselves products of entitlement.

And yet there are leaders who can stand up to the Dynasty if they want. Amarinder Singh would not have won Punjab if he had been a meek, spineless obeyer of diktats from 10 Janpath. Gurudas Kamat did go into a sulk and threaten to resign before being pacified. Harish Rawat did revolt and finally had to be made the chief minister of Uttarakhand. When Rahul Gandhi visited Goa well ahead of the elections, a section of Congress leaders stayed away from meeting him. Hemanta Biswa Sarma in Assam did revolt against the entitlement regime, though he had to quit. In Goa, the rank and file is furious with the turn of events and is openly expressing its resentment. Party leaders in Goa are openly talking to thepressregarding this. All this shows there is a ferment brewing within the Congress. What was keeping the party together was the belief that the family would bring in the votes. Even that allure has now gone.

It may sound very unrealistic and over-hopeful but this ferment needs to reach a logical conclusion. For the sake of the nation, the Dynasty needs to be dumped.

Author: Seetha

Published: March 14, 2017

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