Congress, in need of a new RaGa
Rahul Gandhi is expected to return to the post after a brief period of voluntary exile
Rahul Gandhi is expected to return to the post after a brief period of voluntary exile. But the big question is can he show the grit and stamina to rough it out and rebuild the party?
No matter how robust a person in power is, he needs a strong opposing force to temper his shortcomings, challenge him to improve, and check an inveterate situation. Can Rahul be that robust person? What is the way forward for Congress?
The expectations were high when Rahul Gandhi first became the party president after the defeat of the Congress party in 2019.
Despite losing power, the situation in the party was not so disappointing. The grand old party was in power in six states and if the party rank and file was strengthened, it could have perhaps been on a come back trial. But it had witnessed series of defeats in election after election as it had failed to go to the people with issues related to the masses and take up struggle on their behalf.
While there is nothing wrong in using technology to maximum advantage and utilising social media for publicity is the buzz word these days, depending purely on social media and not going into the people is not a wise strategy. Rahul Gandhi is known for shooting off accusatory tweets against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but did not take it up on a mission mode to take on the BJP-led government and did not show the kind of commitment that was required to revive the party. As a result, it has virtually slipped into state of coma.
This resulted in the BJP filling the vacuum. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are leaving no space for the Opposition, even though there are several issues which need to be taken up, including the economic downturn, Covid-19, new farm acts and China. If Rahul becomes the party president again, he needs to display a new RG, get over the internal politics, hit the streets and raise issues to win the confidence of the people.
The time for thinking on synergy of old and new is over. If he starts the exercise to revive party's future from this point, he would be losing time and party will have to face disappointment as the country is likely to see first joint elections from Parliament to local bodies towards the end of 2022.
No strategy, including PR strategies, will succeed unless there is strong organisation on the ground. The party organisation in almost all the states has become weak. In states like Punjab where it has won, it was more because of the local leaders and not because of the national leaders of the party. This may sound harsh to those who have soft corner towards Congress party, but this is the reality.
Any political party should not only have a strong leader at the helm of affairs, but its commanders in states too should be equally strong who can create a strong base at the ground level.
Instead, if it follows the old practice of having a club of English-speaking urban elites, the party will succeed only on social media or in elders house in Parliament, but will have no base on the ground or rigour to win over the hearts of the masses, who constitute 70 per cent of the voters.
What is necessary is not just a scion from the Gandhi-Nehru family, but a real charismatic and energetic leader who can create strong, vibrant state units and steer it back to power or at least emerge as a very strong opposition which is the need of the day.