Sunday, July 30, 2017

A New Narrative set by the Congress can still save India

निंदक नियरे राखिए, ऑंगन कुटी छवाय।

बिन पानी, साबुन बिना, निर्मल करे सुभाय।।

- कबीरदास

The commentators and influencers in this country have started writing the epitaph of the Congress party. They have all the right to believe so because since past three years or so, the electoral fortunes of the party have seriously dithered, after the miserable defeat of 2014. Their intense speculation about the future of the Grand Old Party is something which passionate flag bearers like me cannot discount, but are profoundly anguished with. The Liberals are angry at us. But we need to convert that anger into love. I am a Congressman and will remain a Congress party admirer even if I am the last man standing, although I shall do everything within my means to prevent that ‘last man’ scenario.

I know I may be painting a negative picture and some of you who will read you will definitely mock my assessment. Some of you will also question my locus-standi for writing this- since I am also part of that very system, albeit a very small part in which the Congress system works, I am responsible too. And Yes I am.  But, considering that I am an eternal optimist, I shall always say, that even though the initial comment of this writing will force you to doubt my assessment, I shall always yearn that such an eventuality shall never come.

Congress will remain strong and Congress will overcome its present problems. We shall again redeem India and will not let it slip to the darkness. Our ideals and ideology is rock solid and our commitment for Secularism is unflinching. Compassion, brotherhood, love and respect are the pillars which install the foundation of our basis.

A lot is being written and a lot is being said. Yes, there are a lot of inherent flaws with which our inner party system works, but there are innumerable positives also.

The honeymoon period of the Modi Government saw the Congress party believing that since it is the largest and natural political force of governance and the BJP lacks the ability to solidly govern and administer, it will never be able to live up to the expectations of people. This has actually led to its complacency and turning it into a reactive force. “Jab yeh galitiya karenge, abhi nahi toh 5-10 saal baad humara waqt aayega” (When they will make mistakes, not today, but eventually after 5-10 years we will be back in power) was the drawing room chatter of every Congressmen.

Then came a period, where the superficial layers which gloss the BJP’s incompetence began to peel off.  Failures, after failures with time- But at the most the Congress acted as a reactionary force, failing to capitalize the blunders of the ruling dispensation. The single biggest mistake which critics and admirers alike will admit that the Congress party in the UPA era failed to build its cadre, especially in states, where it was weak. An opposition needs a robust and a committed worker. The Congress is a mass based party and not a cadre based one, yet it has certain unique organizational strengths, which it could have tapped into. Its frontals are more or less defunct and at the most have become extremely sycophantic in nature- with almost no vision or plan of action.

Three years now into the dark ages of the Modi Government, where the BJP is using every trick in the political book to expand its hungry fangs to annihilate India, the Congress is making last ditch attempts to somehow foster an opposition unity, without much success. The Nitish Kumar fiasco may have its opportunistic and political strokes, and broad ones indeed, yet the Congress has to somehow take its share of blame too. I know, I will again be accused of crossing the Lakshman Rekha (Red Line) while I try to objectively put forth this assessment, but acceptance of failures, is the first stepping stone to success.

I have been hinting and posting on Social Media, since long, that the Congress needs a positive agenda. A solid, implementable narrative and a new vision to take along those committed liberal voters who still believe in those ideals on which the edifice our Constitution was laid. Time and again, I have come to this conclusion that only a positive narrative can resurrect the Congress.

For starters, we should look at our own 2014 Manifesto. This 45 page document should be our Magna Carta to attack and question the BJP. It will give us more credibility because we shall not be merely criticizing the policies, but also put forth a positive policy solution. “Had the Congress been in power, there were the 5 steps it would have taken to solve agrarian distress”. “These are the steps that the Congress party would have taken to create more jobs”.

It is not that the Congress party is not taking steps to revamp its organizational structure. Election process will complete this year and a new team is slowly and steadily been set up. New General Secretary in-charges for states are being appointed. The Communications department of the party is seeing new faces and a newer strategy for the same is in place now. Research and Social Media wings have also been refurbished and are working with new vigour. Yes, we lack in Media Management, and that needs to be proactively dealt with.  A large section of media has become the mouthpiece for the BJP, and the Congress needs to find an alternate for the same. There are several deficiencies too, which are well known. These need to be resolved.

The voter connect is only possible when you gather small constituencies of groups together and target your liberal supporters. Laziness, complacency and arrogance should be done away with. A strong ideological resolve is needed so as solidify your support base. We all know what ails the Congress party, we also have some solutions.

No political party that has a closed system and secretive in nature can function in a vibrant democracy. We have to open the doors for the converted and to the swing ones.

The Congress should aim for opposition unity, but that does not mean that it can tie up with any political party which is ideologically not at the same page as the Congress. We have seen that in West Bengal and in Uttar Pradesh. Let us not repeat that. The Congress should try and build consensus, but if that is not possible, just leave these regional parties to fend for themselves. We should stop pandering to them. Let us built our own identity, we were successful because we had one. We should not leave it. Opposition unity is good for short term goals, but in the long term, we should strive for our own National space. In states, where we are dependent on regional satraps, we have only declined. Even if we win one seat, it should be on our own.

If we do not implement a positive agenda and restructure ourselves, then even our forefathers, who so painstakingly built this country, will not forgive us for sending India to the dark ages.

All the views expressed in the article by the author are strictly personal.

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