Rudderless, Demoralised, Cong on Downslide Mode - The New Indian Express

Rudderless, Demoralised, Cong on Downslide Mode

Published: 23rd March 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 23rd March 2014 07:49 AM

For quite a while now, the Congress seems to be groping for a strategy to counter the Modi effect. In their heart of hearts, Congressmen are well aware that power is slipping out of their hands howsoever much they may damn opinion polls that have predicted their party is sinking or whatever bravado they may project to mask their sense of insecurity.

The psychological advantage is well and truly with the BJP in its aggressive new avatar under Narendra Modi. Nothing symbolises the plight of the Congress better than the utter mess into which the rudderless party has plunged itself in Andhra. For years, the governance-deficient Congress at the Centre vacillated on the issue of granting statehood to Telangana. Having tilted towards the demand of the TRS, it finally decided that it had burnt its boats in the rest of Andhra but could still manage to win seats in Telangana to partially recover its losses. It secured the verbal assurance of the TRS that it would merge in the Congress if the demand was conceded, oblivious of the fact that K Chandrasekhar Rao of the TRS had plans to ditch them.

Today, the impending bifurcation of Andhra stands testimony to the utter bankruptcy of the Congress in ideas and in strategising. In a state where it had won 33 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the 2009 elections, it may well end up with a mere half a dozen in the 2014 polls.

While the BJP is busy sewing up alliances in state after state, there are no takers for the Congress. That in Tamil Nadu and Andhra, where the BJP drew a blank in 2009, it today sits at the head of regional alliances of small parties and is all set to bag a few seats in partnership with its new allies, is an index of its new-found surge in credibility. In Bihar, it has managed to break the Congress-RJD-LJP alliance by wrenching the LJP of Ram Vilas Paswan away. In Maharashtra, despite the open hostility of its longtime ally, Shiv Sena, towards Raj Thackeray’s MNS, it has managed to forge a strange understanding with the MNS that it would not fight against its (BJP) candidates while it opposes the Shiv Sena tooth and nail.

With many Congress leaders opting out of the Lok Sabha contest, it became expedient for the party to tell them to retrace their steps in view of the whispers that they were fighting shy of contesting because of a Modi wave that would sweep them aside. Demoralisation in the Congress is all-pervasive. But the Congress’ biggest problem has been that Sonia Gandhi’s anointed heir Rahul has proved to be no match for a combative and confident Modi who has been holding out good governance and stability under his stewardship in Gujarat as potent examples of what he is capable of.

Modi’s advantage is that there is a perceptible anti-incumbency mood in the country with the surfeit of scams and misgovernance under the Manmohan Singh government. Besides, Rahul has nothing to show by way of what he is capable of since he has never held public office and has no proven organisational skills. His understanding of national and international affairs is shallow and disjointed. Indeed, while he comes off as a ‘nice guy’, he is not seen as an able administrator, endowed with any special governance skills which would hold him out as a man capable of steering the country’s ship through turbulent waters.

Rahul’s aggressive stance against Modi has not only come too late but is still devoid of convincing arguments. The seeming arrogance of a whole range of Congress leaders like Salman Khurshid, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Kapil Sibal, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari and many others has done irreparable damage to the Congress party. Yet, it would be foolhardy for the NDA to turn complacent. The tide could still turn, at least partially.

The author is a former journalist

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