For Congress to succeed in electoral politics it needs to take up a vision of building a greater Bharat (India).
The quote “Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them” is very apt for Congress party in India. When the leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury rose to spoke on Jammu Kashmir issue he commented “You (Centre) say it is an internal matter. But it is being monitored since 1948 by the UN. Is that an internal matter? We signed the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration. Was that an internal matter or bilateral. (External Affairs Minister) S Jaishankar told (US Secretary of State) Mike Pompeo a few days ago that Kashmir is a bilateral matter, so do not interfere in it. Can Jammu and Kashmir still be an internal matter? We want to know. Entire Congress party wants to be enlightened by you”. Congress Party lost a golden opportunity to come back to relevance during the discussions of the Kashmir issue in Parliament. Imagine the support Congress would have got if the leader of the opposition instead supported the government and questioned the government on why efforts are not been taken to take control of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK). This could have put BJP government on the defensive. Instead, Congress party through the statement of Mr.Chowdhury gave Home Minister Amit Shah an electoral talking point to BJP to reclaim POK.
The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. Congress Party had been given multiple opportunities by Modi led BJP government to turn the tide in their favour in various issues whether it is through Yoga day, Demonetization, Surgical strike, Balakot airstrike. In each of these issues, Congress party should have supported the government initiatives and could have asked for more stringent nationalist action against black money hoarders, Pakistan and various insurgent groups which they failed to do. It should not follow the lines proposed by people like Sam Pitroda who seems to be totally cut off from the Indian politics and whose brand of corporatization will not succeed. Incidentally, Sam Pitroda had been an active advisor to Rajiv Gandhi and now to Rahul.
The nationalist opposition space is taken by its own party members like Dr Subramanian Swamy who is talking about Vibrant Virat Hindustan in various forums.
BJP’s political approach since 1984 is exactly contrary to Congress. BJPs approach could be applied to another quote “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”. BJP has built massive doors to create opportunities during various Congress regime. BJP capitalized on tiny political openings given by Congress through “Shah Bano” triple talaq case which the then Rajiv government overturned the judgment of the supreme court by bringing The Muslim Women (Protect of Rights on Divorce) Act. Since then BJP championed the “TripleTalaq” in their election campaigns by championing gender equality, thereby placing the congress and community on slippery ground. To top this, Congress presented BJP and its leaders the biggest game-changer in Indian politics after Emergency, the Ram Janmabhoomi issue. Rajiv Gandhi ordered to remove the locks on the RamJanmabhoomi. This gave ammunition to BJP to take the issue to the electorate and pitch for Ram Temple. BJP rightly took this golden opportunity and build a nationalist fervour to its voters.
The key success of the BJP is its grassroots through its state units infusing a sense of national pride to the voters. The national pride of Bhartiyata generated by BJP has helped its electoral success. The success of the Congress during the early years of Indian independence was because of its nationalist pride, however, since the late 1970s, it instead chose the communal, caste, linguistic politics over national pride.
For any national party to succeed, it needs a vision of building a greater Bharat (India) through its culture, cuisine, heritage, language diversity which are its pride. For Congress to succeed in electoral politics it needs to take up greater cultural nationalist politics through service-oriented causes like Ayurveda, Yoga, Temple revival movements (not specific to Ayodhya), promotion of Sanskrit, River protections, traditional farming, protection of traditional plantations (Neem, Tulasi etc) folk culture etc. A good, dynamic, tolerant democracy requires a healthy opposition party. Currently, this nationalist opposition space is taken by its own party members like Dr Subramanian Swamy who is talking about Vibrant Virat Hindustan in various forums.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
Volunteer at The Art of Living, Ex-Indian Railways/ IRCTC.