I’ve seen some posts on my Facebook timeline about the decimation of the Congress party in the recent elections and the real possibility of a Congress-mukt India. But the same events can be rewritten into a narrative of no significant setback and even the beginnings of a major renewal. Here’s how that might go:
The defeat in Kerala is an incumbent loss, which is par for the course. The Congress can come back at the next election. The defeat in Tamil Nadu is a reflection of the deep rot within the DMK. That party is rife with corruption, internal wrangling and Karunanidhi is past his ‘use-by’ date. If the DMK is able to enact a succession and clean up its act, coming to power next elections is quite feasible for them, and with the Congress in tow. The defeat in Assam was to be expected after two terms under Tarun Gogoi, a better-than-good run under a less-than-exceptional leader .
I don’t think all the above will happen on their own. The party does need real, strong, and deep, renewal. Thankfully and at long last, development/governance is now seriously on the agenda when public evaluates parties for election. The BJP campaigned on ‘development’ , AAP’s only line is good governance and some regional leaders like Nitish and Chandrababu Naidu provide more examples of good governance. There’s no going back. The Congress needs to get with it. it needs to move (way) past the Gandhi family. The Gandhis need to be one pole of power of a multipolar party. I have no idea why even intelligent Congressmen slavishly hold on to the Gandhi family when its clear that its not producing results. The Congress needs to rebuild itself. Regional leaders who deliver the goods in their states should be calling the shots rather than putative national figurehead leaders.
And here’s an intriguing possibility that might bring all the above together into a winner. How about Rahul Gandhi for CM candidate in UP? I don’t subscribe to all the conventional dissing of Rahul Gandhi as buffoon. I think if the Congress gambles on him as CM candidate in UP and puts their all behind him, they can well come to power there. And what a comeback that will be!
Note 1: I write the above as a unrepentant Congress sentimentalist - despite their many crimes of omission and commission - most recently in their 2nd term that ended in 2014.