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The end is near: Congress in dire straits

Rahul Gandhi
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Rahul Gandhi

Highlights

There is history in making in India

There is history in making in India. The oldest political dynasty of India is disintegrating.Indian national partyIndian national party has never been at this low historically. Steadily the ageing party is nearing its natural end as a national party. The decline which started after the electoral outcome of 2014 has now come to a steep slide into a bottomless abyss after the party's debacle in the 2019 general elections.

The imminent disintegration of Congress party has to do more with its own organisational construct, its organisational processes and its top leadership than the electoral outcomes of 2014 or 2019.

It is a historic pattern that family managed organisations, which do not professionalise their top leadership and leadership at all organisational levels tend to disintegrate generationally. In fact, Congress party which is a classic family-managed dynastic political organisation was fortunate to have a run this long. This organisation was led by five generations of one family. Year 2020 seems to be hastening the process of bringing down the curtain for this prolonged family drama. A seven-decade long run is seemingly coming to an end.

While there are many factors which are bringing down this dynasty, I have outlined below five key factors for the imminent disintegration of Indian National Congress:

Absence of strong leadership at the top: Elections in a democracy are not just about winning and losing, it is about the willingness to drive an institutional framework for continuity. Elections and their results are not an event, it is a process. If Rahul Gandhi were to understand these basics, he would not have stepped down so abruptly, without even planning for the next leader to lead an already failing organisation. The current leadership of Sonia Gandhi is just a stop-gap arrangement.

Responsibility of a win or a loss in any election does not rest in one single leader; it permeates through the organisational leadership collectively, again another basic which Rahul Gandhi would never understand. The irony for the Congress party is that Rahul Gandhi is not a trained organisational leader of a political party with an ideological conviction. He is just a dynastic successor. He will not understand the nuances of political leadership of the largest democracy in the world.

Congress lacks succession plan: Like any unprofessional, unprepared and callous organisation, the Congress party has no succession plan in place. It should not take any functional organisation 40 days to find an able successor to lead the organisation. It is quite clear now, for not just the Congress party members, but also to the people of India that the Congress party is not a serious political organisation. If it cannot plan its own survival and continuity, how can it plan to lead a nation?

The situation Congress party is in today also highlights that it cannot repair the damage nor can it rebuild its organisation, given the construct of the party, which is a 'family dynasty' format. It is almost impossible for any non-family member to lead the party from the top and remote-control leaders and cannot resurrect the sagging fortunes of the party.

The Congress lacks aspiration and inspiration: The party organisation has no inspiration, nor does the party have any visible aspiration to drive new outcomes. The key function of an organisational leader is to inspire and enthuse its members to ensure results. If the leadership itself lacks energy, enthusiasm and aspiration, how would it impact the organisation?

The 2019 general election outcome is also highlighting a fact that slowly but steadily people of India are having fewer aspirations from the Congress party. The party's aspirational value is receding fast and it should be a huge concern.

The Congress lacks resources: The Congress party surely lacks resources of all forms. Especially leadership resource, at all levels across all States. The ageing top leadership has not been refurbished for decades. The leaders who have made hay while sun shined are shying away to support the day-to-day organisational needs of the party. The financial resources are drying up, as a dying organisation does not attract donors.

It is imminent that intellectuals and resourceful individuals will find it hard to cope and will be disillusioned with the unprofessional and unorganised organisational framework and functioning of the party. No organisation can sustain or survive without these resources. All these signs of imminent disintegration of the Congress will ensure that it does not find any new blood entering the organisation at any level.

The Congress lacks Ideology: 'Loyalty to the family not competence', 'sycophancy to a family leader not the ideology' are the ethos that bind Congressmen and woman to the Congress party currently.

After independence, Indian National Congress has lost its actual purpose for which it was founded. With Pandit Nehru hijacking the Congress party after 1947 and transforming it into a family political dynasty, the organisation could not since then reset a strong ideology as its foundation. It simply ran on the popular faces of the family, their iron grip on the organisation and without capable and competent Opposition parties to challenge it for many decades.

The Congress party acting for decades as a 'centre of left and a liberal party', has many times in the past and even during recent elections tried to position itself as 'centre of right'. This extreme swing can break the spine of any political organisation and it certainly did. The leaders of the Congress, the cadre, their voters are all confused as to what is the 'real Congress party'?

No political organisation can survive without differentiation and it is fundamental to politics. Trying to copy the BJP ideology will only strengthen the BJP not the Congress.

The recent leadership of the party being ignorant of basics of political leadership and the party diluting its ideology for temporary electoral outcomes is ensuring its own nemesis.

The disintegration of the Congress dynasty is imminent; this organisation cannot exist in its current form beyond few more years. This is not my subjective partisan wish, but an objective organisational analysis, as a professional strategist.

(The author is the chief spokesperson of the BJP, an organisational strategist and a global leadership coach)

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