Home » Congress – from its existential crisis to a breath of relief

Congress – from its existential crisis to a breath of relief

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By: M.R. Lalu
Sincerely, I waited and waited until the result of the Congress presidential election was out. When it was out, the dominant question crept into my mind was about the next possible move by Shashi Tharoor. But he, unlike his G-23 compatriots, decided to march in tune with the party high-command’s dictums. And that was brilliant.  The presidential election in the Congress party has been a moment that blessed all the insiders of the party to once again conveniently lean on to show their depth of servitude to the party dynasty. And Shashi Tharoor for definitive reasons would be an outsider even if he is inside the party and strictly be alienated among the leaders in the Congress for his audacity to remain intelligently independent when others, the loyalists are blissful to think the way they are directed to think by the family high command. A well qualified, well read and well-known Tharoor has come out with a decent phraseology saying that ‘the revival of the party has truly begun.’ But the officially unofficial presidential candidate of the Congress party will remain eclipsed and indignantly undermined, if he continued in his present party. The ripple of political movements the Congress has presently come up with has seriously made the party once again a well meaningful subject of political discourse even though it is out of power. Electing an octogenarian as its new president from outside the Gandhi family, the eligible votary in the party has indirectly endorsed its reluctance to give the grand old party a chance to metamorphose into a fresh avatar under a younger and intelligent Tharoor.
Tharoor could not win the presidency but his candidature should be seen as an announcement of an open dissent that has been visible and the effect of a quest that some of the insiders of the party cherished while plotting their rebellion. Tharoor may change his mind and prefer a decent exit from Congress before the general elections approach as he claimed that the entire electoral endeavour for the presidential election was stage-managed and sheepishly rigged. Though his candidacy was a public display of democratic disagreement inside the party, the leadership of the party projected this as an act of amiability and freedom rather than anarchy and acrimony in its democratic structure.
The essential eligibility irrespective of his old age, Mr. Kharge was supported for was his family proximity that the party family endorsed and staged the election drama for. Being powerful without any power in the party, Rahul Gandhi has consistently maintained his dominance in Congress. His longest walk intended to recapture the lost glory of the party has fundamentally added to the complexity that the Congress establishment is. An intelligent manoeuvre to stay away from the potential pitfalls such as the future political debacles; he has once again managed to stay in limelight without any visible responsibility.  The party with its behavioural ethos to stay under the protective shadow of a family has almost lost its eminence since 2014. The storm that had shattered its hopes and dreams must be giving nightmares to the Congress even today. The Modi factor, the winning strategy that the BJP is banking on, had been a profound hindrance for the Congress from gaining influence.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra by Rahul Gandhi and the coronation of Mallikarjun Kharge, a family loyalist as the President of the party, gives the Congress a chance to set up a parallel party structure that the BJP enjoys. There, it is Narendra Modi the supreme leader and a party president probably taking his orders. This can also be seen as an overall experiment put in place well before the general elections 2024, in which, if consensus could be built to project a new Rahul Gandhi, totally reinvigorated after the yatra, emerging with a well knitted acceptance across party lines as a serious contender to Modi. The BJP must be counting this as a win-win situation. The Tharoor factor being crumbled from becoming instrumental in the Congress party’s constitutionally structural build-up, the new elected president does not seem to have the mettle to bring about an increased vigour among its cadre; the only personality who would attempt to flex his muscles to take on the Modi juggernaut is Rahul Gandhi alone. Since that being the case the BJP does not have to do so many somersaults to retain its previous tally.
The present scenario in the Congress is a true replica of renunciation that the Sonia era espoused in 2004. She was eulogised and hysterically beatified by the same loyalists in the party for her renouncing the post of the Prime Minister. Rahul Gandhi also for whatever reasons decided not to embrace the responsibility of the president and has certainly been extolled by the same loyalists for turning himself a renunciate. A frenzied party cadre thronging to his yatra in states where the Congress has little significance echoed this view decisively. For them, the yatra would definitely transform the family scion of the party into its ultimate saviour. His ‘no’ to the presidency and his excitement to take a long march, which indeed, if completed as per the plan, would turn out to be a thrilling achievement for him in his personal pursuit of political relevance. Walking through the entire stretch of the dryness of his political career, as a leader, the Rahul factor is all set to gain prominence. Interestingly, after Modi, in India he is the only leader who enjoys a great deal of celebrity status in politics.  From 7 September to the distance that he should be inching closer to its culmination is expected to galvanise pro-Congress sentiments. But to counter a pan-India Modi impact, the entire stretch of distance he decided to walk is not enough. But unpredictability is the master when politics begins to play its tricky games. If the Rahul yatra helps the Congress to embellish its presence with little eminence, it can also garner more political support from unexpected areas. Areas where the crowd sat to hear him throughout the rain are indicative to the attention that the electorate rewarded him for his newborn maturity.
With brand Modi’s USP intact, the BJP is all set to focus on the upcoming state elections. The Congress is yet to make any noteworthy start. A repeat of the saffron surge in its strong turf is predicted and undoubtedly this election does not bring any slippery moment for the BJP in Gujarat. But in Karnataka, with the tussle and fuss in the leadership of both the parties, the state elections are far from a viable prediction.  The repeat of a BJP sweep and Congress decline would further damage the prospects of the party and the effect of its historic yatra would   not refurbish on the celebrated Rahul makeover and his prospects in the national elections would be grimmer. But the Kharge coronation will ultimately pull the Rahul Gandhi factor into a visible sphere of recognition as a serious leader and he should be aware of the genuine challenge that the Bharat Jodo Yatra throws at him. He needs to establish his organisational popularity with meaning and purpose. In case of his party’s losing mandate in the upcoming state elections, his reformer’s image and saviour’s prerogatives would crumble.      
(The author is Freelance Journalist/ Social Worker)

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