INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS, the grand old party of India which was established in 1885, appears to be suffering from a strange death wish and is fast moving towards oblivion. The party is refusing to mend its course and continues to inflict self wounds much to the delight of its political rivals.
The Congress party that ruled the country for nearly six decades is now a pale shadow of itself. Its downslide in West Bengal, which it ruled for three decades, is reflected in its failure to win even a single seat in the state Assembly. It is finding it difficult to even hold on to power in the few states where it continues to govern.
It lost Madhya Pradesh after losing one of its upcoming young leader, Jyotiraditya Scindia and is on the verge of a major political crisis in Rajasthan where another young and charismatic leader, Sachin Pilot, is at daggers drawn with the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Perhaps the most important factor for its current state of affairs is the lack of effective leadership and the so-called high command vacillating on taking a stand on major issues. The tendency is to keep postponing any decision on the vital issues pertaining to the party and hoping that the crisis would blow over on its own.
In Punjab too the Congress party appears to be in a self destructive mode. Till about a couple of months ago it seemed that the ruling party in the state was all set to make a comeback. The break-up of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party alliance had further strengthened it chances of retaining power.
The Aam Aadmi Party, which had provided it a scare during the 2017 assembly elections, was in a state of disarray and was lacking in strategy as well as leadership. The party also appeared to had taken no lessons from the past and was disintegrating. The ruling party now can’t take return to power for granted.
The first major political activity towards the run up for the assembly elections in February next year was the announcement of an alliance between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Though not unexpected, the timing of the alliance in the midst of the race to woo the Dalit votes, which constitute one third of the total voters in the state, did provide a setback to the Congress.
The High Court quashing the inquiry report on Bargari incident hit the Congress hard and focused attention on a delay of nearly seven years to get to the culprits involved in the desecrations and punish all those involved.
This issue also came handy for the rebel leader Navjot Singh Sidhu who mounted a major attack on the Chief Minister after waiting for a long time for his rehabilitation in the government.
While Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh remained adamant on not allowing Sidhu to be the Deputy Chief Minister or party president in the state, the Congress high command again dragged on the issue for too long.
The result is that the bitterness has increased and has reached a level from where it is very difficult to amicably resolve the issue. This internal bad blood can cost the party heavily in the ensuing elections.
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has added another dimension to the controversy by stating that the next elections would be held under the leadership of party president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi.
It is common knowledge in the state that these leaders have hardly any support and few candidates were willing to invite them over for campaigning in the previous elections. It is also well known that the previous elections were won by the party entirely due to Capt Amarinder Singh. The statement given by Kharge is bound to create further confusion in the ranks and file of the party in the state.
Capt Amarinder Singh too appears to be forgetting lessons he had learnt from his failure to dislodge the Akalis in 2012. Old timers would recall how he did not care about dissidents and had made little efforts to take the entire party along which helped the Akali-BJP coalition to retain power.
His failure to reach out to various sections in the party and the continued dilly dallying on the part of the central leadership of the party could dent the prospects of the Congress retaining power.
The party, it appears, has lost the will to fight and win elections. While the BJP and other parties in Uttar Pradesh are strategising for the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, also along with Punjab, the Congress appears to be in deep slumber.
It even failed to attend a meeting called by all opposition parties and thinkers to devise future strategy at NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s residence in Delhi earlier this week.
At one time it was thought that the Congress could provide leadership for a Mahagathbandhan but its continuous slide is making it a non entity in the country’s politics. It’s failure to listen to sane voices within the party is only adding to its misery.
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