Congress still miles away from road to revival

Ajay K. Mehra | 12 Jan 2016 08:09 PM
Manish Tewari’s ‘revelation’ on the coup that could have been – or not been – is the latest in a series of contraindications within the Congress.  It resulted in strong denial from all quarters then and even now both Congress and BJP remain united in denying that the army units moved towards Delhi without notifying government. Tewari’s intention behind this unapproved-by-party exposé is unknown and is unlikely to help either but has clearly embarrassed his party.


This is one of the several recent embarrassments that the Congress can do without.  For, whatever the inconspicuous efforts the party and its leader(ship) might be making, palpably it is not moving on a road to revival, the ‘success’ as a junior partner in Bihar election notwithstanding. Organisationally, institutionally and in terms of alternative programmes and policies the party appears to be in an irretrievable bind, as the Gandhis, particularly the younger one, appear clueless and other ‘leaders’, if they can be called that, are not authorised to take any initiative or decision.


The Chhattisgarh tapes that revealed former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and his son Amit were involved in the withdrawal of the Congress’s Jogi loyalist candidate Manturam Pawar from the assembly by-election in September 2014 would appear to be just tip of an iceberg that is wrecking the Congress knowingly, but imperceptibly.


The sixteenth general election witnessed the Congress at a loss to find credible candidates across the country and some of them, as in Gautam Budh Nagar (UP), withdrew at the last moment. In Chhattisgarh, alleged conversations between the key players in the event at that time suggest financial inducements behind Pawar’s withdrawal from the fray.


Indeed, BJP could justify this degenerate initiative on the grounds of realpolitik. But that the strategy of the general election with the slogan to achieve a Congress-Mukt (free) Bharat has become an integral part of the party’s political reality does not portend well. Since loopholes in the decrepit Congress remains unplugged and its fossilized structures difficult to rejuvenate, such possibilities could re-emerge.


The National Herald case, paradoxically a newspaper Jawaharlal Nehru established in 1938 as the voice of the Indian National Congress that ceased its operations in 2008, has emerged as another Achilles’ heels for the party. The case Subramanian Swamy filed in 2012 to expose that Congress leaders were involved in cheating and breach of trust in the acquiring Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) by Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIL), transferring multi-crore worth assets to YIL, has come at an inopportune time for the Gandhis and the party.


The allegation of siphoning off assets worth  2,000 crores illegally by the Gandhis is likely to create a breach of trust despite the bail granted by the High Court. For, the honourable court noted that the ‘probity of the legendary national political party’ was ‘at stake’ in the case, as the funds were with the office-bearers of the party in trust.  No wonder, the effort to create a sympathy wave in favour of the Gandhis by Congress yielded little result.
Not surprisingly, the embattled party and the Gandhis are being forced to deal with a new set of uncertainties. Clearly, some of the old chickens are coming home to roost and this is one serious part of the problem. The party won two general elections (2004 and 2009) under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi with some political fortune.  Yet, the party lost critical one decade in enthroning a reluctant Rahul Gandhi and enjoying political spoils, forgetting that it was in power in a coalition and managing its motely allies and several satraps meant compromising on the substance of governance.


Congress, and particularly Rahul Gandhi, needed to focus on the basics of giving the organisation depth and meaning, taking it to every nook and corner of the country, building cadre and leadership at each level. But, the national leadership did not descend from its ivory tower.  No wonder, a road map for revival is still non-existent.


(The writer is Honorary Director, Centre for Public Affairs. Email: