You know a political party is in serious trouble when home truths and introspection are misinterpreted by a section of its members as being an attack on an individual, in this case Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Many younger members of the party have taken on some of the old guard who have made comments questioning the leadership and commitment of Mr Gandhi who for all intents and purposes led the party into the elections and into the dreadful defeat that it suffered.
A party of the provenance of the Congress with its long years in governance should have by now been able to undertake an honest assessment of what went wrong, dusted off the defeat and regrouped. But the Congress is still indulging in semantics.
It no longer really matters who was to blame for the defeat, the Congress cannot lose any sleep over this anymore. It has not even got the Leader of the Opposition status in Parliament. The young members could perhaps take the lead in cutting out the deadwood and energising the party’s rank and file with an eye to the upcoming assembly elections in several states. The Congress should not act as though it has reached a point of no return. Sure, it lost its way in recent years, unable perhaps to reconcile with the needs of a young and changing India. But the Congress has a battery of energetic and bright leaders, both young and old.
It has several state-level leaders. It needs to undertake an honest scrutiny of its strengths, its assets and its resources. And it needs to frame a non-monolithic vision to tackle the days ahead. The so-called high command culture is not working any longer. Devolution and delegation could yield better returns. The party must get out of its secretive Soviet-style functioning in which it is anathema to apportion blame to the leaders.
The new government has got off to a fairly good start. Instead of trying to trip it up, the Congress must now display its maturity by coming up with constructive and alternative suggestions that could capture the imagination of the people. And above all, it must stop waiting for the bus and start walking ahead.