The gratitude the Congress might have expected from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) for having conceded its long-standing demand for a new state has so far come only in the form of a courtesy call paid by TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Mr Rao, who had earlier promised to merge his party with the Congress if the Telangana decision came through, has not only reneged on his word, he has even held the Congress to ransom by lending an element of uncertainty to the prospective alliance. This has made a mockery of the process of the formation of the new state of Telangana.
In the promise of the merger of the TRS with the Congress, there was a sense of political suborning, shorthand for bribery. States are created not for reasons of political expediency but on the basis of social, economic, geographical and historical factors. True, there has to be a vanguard of any national or sub-national movement. But attaching a political promise to an event of historic significance has the potential to make the whole process spurious. And, things are degenerating into a farce as Mr Rao keeps the Congress on tenterhooks on the question of an alliance.
The Congress is still friendless in many states such as Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where it is weak. In UP, it had two implacable foes — Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati — on its side for full five years in the Lok Sabha but yet could not consolidate on it. However, the party did well to stitch up a deal the RJD, leaving the experience of the split of 2009 behind.
In the great secular-communal divide, it is the Congress that has a cleaner record than all parties, cleaner than even the Left, in that it is the only party that has not allied with the majority right in any way. But the party has caved in under the regional pulls of parties that do not have much of a national vision. So, in this context, it now must go back to its nationalist roots and rebuild itself so that regional outfits can be kept at bay and it can win back the areas of support it has lost.