[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]W[/dropcap]ith the Congress scurrying from one electoral setback to the other and vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s incompetence evident even to the blind, pundits are discussing the possibility of the revival of the grand old party. Can it rise, just like phoenix, from its own ashes? Can Rahul do the impossible? Is it time for Priyanka to take the plunge?
We need to seriously consider why people are not voting for Congress and why our ground-level worker is so de-motivated.
– Aditi Singh (Congress)
It is instructive to notice that neither the pundits nor Congress leaders are even seeking revival beyond the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. That the GOP would be led by the dynasty is an axiomatic truth for its functionaries. So, five of the seven Congress candidates who managed to survive the Bharatiya Janata Party wave in Uttar Pradesh said that less exposure of Priyanka Gandhi was an important factor for the defeat. “When Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going all out and camping three days in Varanasi, we also have to bring out our big guns like Priyanka. It is all about emotional appeal to the voters,” Congress winner of Behat seat in Saharanpur, Naresh Saini, told The Economic Times (March 15).
Aditi Singh, who secured the biggest margin among Congress candidates by winning the Rae Bareli seat, also expressed similar sentiments: “It would have been great if Priyanka had campaigned more. It is not about blaming the leadership. We need to seriously consider why people are not voting for Congress and why our ground-level worker is so de-motivated. We need to go back to the drawing board.” That is, chalk out another dynasty-oriented strategy.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]his situation reminds me one of my favorite imageries. It is a scene from V. Shantaram’s classic Do Aankhen Barah Haath. The film’s protagonist, played by Shantaram, is an idealist jailor who rehabilitates six dangerous prisoners in an open prison. He wants to reform them through a life of toil and virtue. But this makes them uncomfortable. Having spent years in jail and accustomed to a shackled existence, they are unable to sleep without being chained in the new set-up; so they had to chain themselves up to sleep properly. This scene is a metaphor for the Congress’ affair with the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
Against this backdrop, it would be a miracle if the Congress gets revived. The BJP, however, need not become complacent.
It’s tragic that the party which led the country to get out of the yoke of the British Raj has been enslaved by the dynasty. The real and bigger tragedy, however, is that it wallows in slavery. It is not only the party’s state legislators who cry for greater dynasty role; senior and seasoned leaders also do the same. Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh told The Indian Express (March 18), “I would say that we want a new Congress, a new charter, a new roadmap, a new style of campaigning. A new Congress has to be built…” So far, so good, even though it had the echoes of Modi’s new India. And then came the anticlimax: “… there is no other person who can do it better than Rahul Gandhi. He has to act…”
Rahul to take on Modi! This brings to mind another film scene—Paris fighting Menelaus in the Brad Pitt-starrer Troy. The neophyte, driven by romantic bravado, takes on the big, burly, bearded, battle-hardened warrior; quite expectedly, he loses the duel; but, instead of valiantly accepting the inevitable, that is, death, Paris shows his back to Menelaus. The cowardly prince is saved by the brother Hector who treacherously slays Menelaus. Like Paris, who was no match for Menelaus, Rahul is a cipher vis-à-vis Modi.
Against this backdrop, it would be a miracle if the Congress gets revived. The BJP, however, need not become complacent. They ought to remember what David Ben-Gurion, a founder of the State of Israel and its first prime minister, said about his country: “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.” The same is true, more or less, about Indian politics.