Where is the glue for the Third Front?

Where is the glue for the Third Front?

As far as the Congress party is concerned, the question is not whether Rahul Gandhi can deliver as Prime Minister; the question is whether the party...

As far as the Congress party is concerned, the question is not whether Rahul Gandhi can deliver as Prime Minister; the question is whether the party can survive without the Gandhi family as the 'adhesive glue'. Did not the Congress survive during the tenure of P.V. Narasimha Rao who served as both PM and president of the AICC? But then, PV was not just an ordinary politician like the present-day crop. He was a statesman and philosopher not comparable to anyone in the Congress then and now. He was interested solely in the protection of the Congress party and its government. His personal ambition, if any, was on the back burner. No one else could have run the minority government for a full term nor could anyone have kept the Congress as a single entity. He never appeared to have neglected the Gandhi family, especially Sonia, though he did not allow her involvement. Of course, Sonia too was in grief during much of the time. PV knew very well that without that 'glue of Gandhi family' the Congress could not survive as a pan-India party and was prepared to hand over the reins of power to the Gandhi family the moment his term was over. If it were not for PV, the Congress would have disintegrated as an All India entity in early 1990s! It is a different matter that he was not shown any gratitude by Sonia Gandhi. History would judge the role and contribution of PV to the Congress and the country. At present, Rahul appears to be no match to Narendra Modi, Gujarat chief minister and the likely prime ministerial candidate of the BJP. Rahul declared that he is not interested in the job. His preference was to reorganize the party. He further declared that the Congress is prepared to sit in the Opposition if required, thereby giving the impression that he is accepting defeat even before the fight. Further, Rahul says he is a follower of Gandhiji. For Gandhiji means are no less important than ends. But for any present-day politician, more so for Modi, the end is important and not the means. Rahul could not inspire the youth and people of this country as any of his earlier dynastic predecessors. Yet, Rahul is needed by the Congress and there is no alternative. That is the paradox of the present situation. The Congress, as a national party, evolved over a period of time. It led the independent struggle against the British Raj. It was a platform for many a leader that the freedom struggle had thrown up, like Rajaji and Prakasam Pantulu. The unifying factor for all those Congressmen was achieving independence, a highly inspiring political goal.
Independence could not be achieved with a narrow, sectarian, partisan, aristocratic attitude. Independence struggle needed the whole-hearted participation of the people irrespective of region, religion, caste, creed or sex. It is essential since India is a multilingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural country. Being secular in outlook, pro-poor economic agenda and without any rigid ideology, neither too right nor too left, the Congress had over the years evolved itself as an all- India party acceptable to a majority of the people. After achieving independence, there is neither a strong goal nor an inspiring ideology to keep the Congress united, and that void was filled with loyalty to Nehru and his successors since Gandhi's kith and kin were not in the reckoning. At the present juncture, when high ideals have disappeared and diverse interests come to the fore and a desire to grab power is driving the present-day Congress politician, the party requires an adhesive glue. It is naturally loyalty to the Nehruvian dynasty, presently called 'Gandhi family' that keeps the party united. So, it is immaterial whether Rahul Gandhi is equal to the challenge or interested in the top job or reluctant to take up responsibility. He should be pushed into the 'ring' since none other than a member of the Gandhi family could be a uniting, adhesive force for the Congress. Rahul too has no other option, since it is the desire of the ordinary Congress worker. They were given to understand for several years that Rahul would be their wrestler in future and now he cannot say 'no' to the demand. It appears that left to himself Rahul would prefer a rather leisurely, easy going, happy life. If, in any unforeseen circumstances, someone says Chidambaram or Antony has to be chosen as PM, any of them needs full support of Sonia and Rahul. What happens later is anybody's guess. But the BJP's case is different. It has a very strong 'Saffron glue', if religious fundamentalism is its core ideology. Its dream is to see Akhand Bharat, a Hindu religious State comprising India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, Afghanistan, etc. Its aim is not yet fulfilled (it may never be) and the fundamental Hindu religious ideology as an adhesive glue could keep BJP united irrespective of some personal differences of various degrees among its leaders. Whether it is Modi or Sushma Swaraj, it may make little difference for the BJP, though Modi, with all his power of demagogy, appears to have stolen the BJP show for now. We seem to have two options before us: Rahul Gandhi as the Congress candidate of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, relatively secular, on one side, and Narendra Modi of the BJP and the Hindutva brigade on the other side. There is a third option too. All those parties and politicians not subscribing to either of the two options may come together to form a third choice. But where and what is the adhesive glue for the third alternative to stay together? In the absence of a glue, maverick leaders driven by diverse interests can break the front within no time.
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