Missing the woods for trees, Congress style! | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Missing the woods for trees, Congress style!

chandigarh Updated: Apr 12, 2012 12:26 IST
Tajinder Bains
Tajinder Bains
Hindustan Times
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Defeat inflicts not only emotional pain but also scars the psyche of the lesser mortals. And experiencing the ignominy of defeat on the threshold of victory tantamount to a double whammy!

Human responses can vary from humble submission before the inevitable to hullabaloo over trivial details of real or imaginary causes of defeat.

Indian politicians are not quite known for exhibiting grace amid defeat in political battles. Trust them to come up with every excuse under the sun for their defeat in the battle of the ballot but the real cause!

Congressmen are going through such a phase after their unexpected defeat - at least in their own estimation - in the recent assembly elections in Punjab.

Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh has, quite conveniently, dumped the blame for the Congress defeat at the doors of party rebels, People's Party of Punjab, atta-dal scheme of SAD (Badal) and Dera Ballan support to Bahujan Samaj Party in Doaba region.

And the growing number of his detractors in the state unit of Congress, quite conveniently again, have sought to put the entire blame on Capt Amarinder Singh in turn.

It could be a case of missing the woods for the trees!

The causes of Congress defeat in the poll battle could make up quite a list, to start with.

It goes without saying that Congress leaders were - even before they had entered the fray - quite smug about the return of their party to power in Punjab. Didn't they have the electoral record of the past six decades to prove them right?

And since they were quite sure of roaming the corridors of power once again after five long years, they did not feel the need to slog over amidst the heat and dust of electoral battle.

Akalis, on the other hand, proved smart Alecs and started preparing at least a year in advance, as media reports suggest.

Full credit must go to SAD leader Sukhbir Badal on this count, since he made sure to make up for losses - perceived or real - to his party with the exit of his cousin Manpreet Singh Badal.

While the Akalis started preparing for the electoral battle a full one year ago under the unquestioned command of Sukhbir, the Congressmen started thinking of candidates and battle logistics only a month or so before the D-Day.

Secondly, Congress, as usual, was beset with a multitude of leaders who wanted to be in the chief minister's chair. Too many leaders and too few followers proved to be the bane of Punjab Congress in the end.

Not to forget, Congress has also many "part-time leaders" who become active only once the elections near, and take up other full-time vocations once elections are over.

Congress candidates not only ended up fighting their rivals from other parties but those from their own parties as well, in the race to enter the state assembly.

Akalis, on the other hand, had the advantage of acting as per Sukhbir's directive and thus were not bogged down by the rebel factor to the extent faced by the Congress. Needless to say, there could not be any chief ministerial aspirant in the SAD (B) when Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir are around.

The Congressmen, and for that matter all others, also failed to gauge the damage PPP would inflict on their prospects. It is quite convenient for the Congressmen to now claim that the nearly 5 per cent votes in the PPP kitty were actually theirs.

And all along before the polls, Congressmen were crying hoarse from rooftops that Manpreet would do more damage to the SAD (B) than their party!

Last but not least, nobody either in the Punjab Congress or their national leadership has admitted so far - nor has anybody else pointed out - that the scams that erupted in the UPA government's second innings at the Centre took a toll on the party's prospects.

It goes without saying that voters in Punjab took note of 2G scam involving Rs 1.78 lakh crore and other scams that tumbled with alarming regularity from the UPA cupboard.

To top it, the track record of quite a few leading Congressmen in Punjab on corruption front is not very bright. This must have cost the Congress support of its hardcore followers and also fence-sitters, who conveniently shifted their alliance to either the BSP or PPP.

To start with, Congress leaders should have been graceful enough to admit that Sukhbir Badal proved much smarter than all of their so-called leaders put together.

Now, the post-poll farce going on in the Congress has only helped make the party a laughing stock in the public eye.

Instead of objectively analyzing the causes of defeat and resorting to course correction at the earliest, the principal opposition party's leaders are busy throwing muck at each other in public.

Capt Amarinder Singh was on dot when he remarked that while success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. It sure is quite an experience for him to see his party men - who not long ago were falling head over heels to keep him in good humour to ensure a place in his proposed cabinet - now baying for his blood.

And amid all this drama in the Punjab Congress, it is the Akalis who surely are laughing up their sleeves.

It would do the Punjab Congress leaders a lot of good if they don't tattle on their party colleagues to high command and instead come up with a tangible roadmap to bounce back on the political firmament in Punjab.

For the sake of a vibrant democratic functioning of the state, is it asking for too much from them?