Sometime in the beginning of the 10th millennium, the world of arithmetic was upended by two developments: the abacus and the Hindu-Arabic numeral system. A new abacus is calculating new equations in Opposition politics. Though doomsday predictions on the Congress party have become a tad tiresome, there is some good news, too. Its disgruntled youth icons are rising up against the powers that be.
Jyotiraditya Scindia wants to be appointed Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee chief, though he was whacked by the BJP in his family seat. Previously, Sachin Pilot was pissed he wasn’t made chief minister in spite of all his hard work in Rajasthan. Deepender Singh Hooda gave top billing to the Narendra Modi government for abrogating Article 370. So did Hooda Sr, Janardan Dwivedi, Harish Rawat, Milind Deora, Aditi Singh and Anil Shastri. Popular face Shashi Tharoor insisted that Modi be given due praise for being good. The counters have begun to shift on the Congress abacus.
An abacus is a board divided by vertical or horizontal counters with coloured balls representing numbers according to groupings. It introduced the revolutionary concept of ‘place value’, which determines the numerical value of a digit according to its position in the column. The place value of Congress politics has just shifted from permutations of three to multiple integers. This augurs well for the organisation which has decayed from a Brobdingnagian liberation movement to a venal, faction-ridden, feud-infested, meritopathic puppet played by the Gandhis. The current vocal restlessness of both young and old Congresmen also indicates a marked change in numerical value—not just desertion of Family law (nothing new; remember Sharad Pawar, HN Bahuguna, RK Hegde, et al?) but most importantly, a deviation from party ideology.
The pre-Indira Congress had a federal geography with many seismic plates intersecting states and the Centre, but were dependent on one another, thereby influencing dynamics and equations as checks and balances. A state satrap had clout both in Parliament and the government. A central leader had a say in regional matters. It was a model that allowed local netas to thrive nationally. By nuking this protostructure, the Gandhis had doomed its future.
That all organisms have a revival cycle for better or worse is history’s bitter lesson. However much Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may try to revive the family fortunes, the current contours of the Congress will change after Sonia Gandhi’s tenure is done. The weakness of her successors would encourage boldness in its leaders to chart their own paths and explore connections and relationships unhindered by supervision. Young politicians, whose national relevance was limited to just ministers of state, will form mutually beneficial alliances at all levels. New, unknown power blocs could emerge and gather support in numbers.
Snakes in the grassroots? That’s totally another matter.