Congress needs to listen to its leaders on the ground

  • Hindustan Times
  • Updated: May 25, 2014 23:45 IST

As night falls on Sunday, power will formally pass into the hands of the BJP, which will rule India for the next five years buoyed by a massive mandate.

For the Congress, weakened dramatically from the worst ever electoral drubbing it has got, this cannot be music to its ears. Nevertheless, this is the reality it has to live with and make the best of.

And the most constructive way to use its time in opposition would be not just to keep the government on its toes, but also try and undertake a series of measures to make itself relevant again, come the next general election.

It is heartening that people like Milind Deora have openly questioned whether the advice given to the Congress vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, who led the charge, was the right one. There have been many advisers to the key people in the Congress, most notably the president, Sonia Gandhi, and also Rahul.

The people surrounding Mr Gandhi are widely thought of as having little or no political experience and who tried to run the party as though it were a corporation. This did not work, given the vast complexities of the Indian electorate.

Then we had the National Advisory Council, which freely dispensed not just advice but also framed policy decisions that proved fiscally disastrous for the government. Unfortunately, there is no sign that the top Congress leadership is in a mood to undertake a serious introspection of its own faults. Sacking or removing a party functionary here or there will cut little or no ice.

The Congress needs to listen to its leaders on the ground and not the unelected hangers-on who have played a large role in the party’s resounding defeat.

The Congress leaders must now work tirelessly to travel across the country and motivate and galvanise the grassroots party worker. Ultimately, it is these people on the ground who will play a big role in getting the party back on track.

The Congress must also embrace a culture of candour where the leaders can openly be criticised as part of its course correction exercise.

Protecting a few leaders at the top, mainly those from the Gandhi family, will not be to the advantage of the party.

The Congress has to let go of the past and tell people what it can bring to the table for them. It will be tough at first but it has five years to effect these changes. And that is a really long time in politics.

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