Wednesday, June 29, 2022

STRANGE PREDICAMENT OF CONGRESS PARTY

Prof. Sivamohan Marapalli

All through in the past the grand old Indian Political Party, Congress had been in crises periodically, luckily because of the overwhelming stature it commanded it was coming out of crisis every time it was confronted with. But in current times after 2014 its resilience has reached the rock bottom and its resurrection is becoming a far off cry. What is intriguing about the party has been its apathy and inertness to introspect its failures which are coming one after the other. It never cared to trace out problems systematically and realistically chartered its way for a retrofit.

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               Equally intriguing is the fact while others outside the arty and even some of the political opponents comment on its non-responsive behaviour and nature the party cadre and leadership within the congress party is least bothered and stay immune. They are only worried about their own self-interests than the interests of the party. This observation is not new and it is on and again levelled in academic, political and media circles. The ‘centre –periphery’ theory of old time political pundits with regard to congress party and other political parties no longer holds water. The crisis congress experienced even in 1989 and 1996-98 is different. The crisis of those times was mostly confined to internal issues to the party. Now it is poised to squarely face the external onslaught. The rise of BJP as strong party and the dwindling of congress party’s vote share from 80% to less than 20% is a matter of utmost criticality. The recent assembly election results in five states are poised to make further elect in congress voting share.

There is an urgent need for congress party to renovate itself dropping old rhetoric. All parties in India play the card of minorities, Dalits, castes and Creeds, but the colour of the game differs from party to party.

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There is a semantic problem with highly loaded or no weight attached words like secularism in India. In the past in a session of the Constituent Assembly Loknath Mishra questioned what exactly this ‘Secularism’ mean and how for the state intends to cover the life and manner of people…… It seemed to him that India as ‘secular state’ is a slippery phase, a device to bypass the ancient culture of the land. Jawarlal Nehur listed actions rather than provided clarity on boundaries of the meaning of “secular”. This is not to decry Nehru’s contribution Country’s leadership ad its actions are always related to time and space. While a lot of criticism is levelled against Nehru, he was lauded as builder of modern India. It is opined that precedents and antecedents for the usage of word secular was over whelmed by the partition of the country in 1947 to mean not only a stance towards religion in abstract sense, but also covered state and its relationship between different cultures. Gandhi used the word ‘Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava’ through the exact literary translations do not match with the word secularism. There is lot that warrants clarity on this count. The word secular cannot be used as suited to the political parties in India.

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Many of such aspects the congress party have to be clear about. The ideological frame of the party should be redrawn on legitimate and realistic terms to the good of the people and for the nation as a whole. As the days on ‘isms’ and appeasements have come to an end practical utility of outdated ideas and approaches to poverty, equality or equity need to be re-examined. While these are some examples for renovating ideology there is lot more to do on its organisation front.

There is need to show that dynasty rule is not as bad as it thought to be if the leadership element presents itself strong and not cling to power. The so called ‘high command’ of congress party today is an archaic structure signifying old patriarchal legacy as could be seen in the happenings in the party in recent times. The issue of leadership is not so much with reference to dynasty rule but more of with which it can galvanise public opinion and coordinate with other political parties knitting them together to from a strong opposition

Organisational restructuring based on democratic ethos and principles is called for in the congress party urgently.

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While the regional parties are gaining ground in the country’s political system, it may be difficult for them to come together and provide alternate opposition to the ruling party. Sound and constructive opposition is absolutely needed in any democratic system without which autocracy and dictatorship or mobocracy lured by doles, nepotism and corruption reign the psyche of the people. Congress party has still considerable vote bank compared to any regional party and its participation in building united opposition becomes crucial. Yet, for the party to return to the  limelight once again congress has to do a lot of homework, setting its house right simultaneously, eliminating dissensions.

Firmness in running the party and providing leadership with invigorating vision is highly needed. As of now this appears to be an uphill task. Only a miracle should happen for the party’s revival and survival.

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Prof. Sivamohan Marepalli
The writer is a researcher, consultant and teacher. He worked at ASCI and had brief stints at Cornell University, IWMI and other international organizations.

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