The Congress mint fresh from the reshuffle seems to be moving into battle mode. The party president has laid out the agenda on reforms, and for higher investment in the social sector. At the Surajkund conclave, the party has made it clear that it is readying itself for the next election. It has covered all the planks it could have. Sonia Gandhi has talked about implementing the 2009 manifesto. What has been clear here is that the party is sticking together on the proposals that it has made in every field. Ms Gandhi’s words said it all: “We need to do much more to derive political benefits from our flagship programmes. With the 18 months left for the next election, the party and the government have to work cohesively.”
There can be no more doubt about the Congress and its intentions. The party has not had a good run in recent times, what with the accusations of corruption against some of its people. In all this, perhaps what was lacking was the political management of things. But now there seems a new spring in the step of many in the Congress. While this is a good step up for the UPA, what should be worrying for the larger polity is the fact that the BJP has not been able to step up to the plate in any sense.
The Congress has now been able to project its first line of younger leaders. There is no doubt that the BJP too has some people of the same calibre. But, what seems to be lacking is that it has not been able to project such people at all. The BJP has to first resolve its leadership issue. It is fine to say that it has faith in Mr Gadkari, but it remains to be seen whether the party can say in full faith that it can go into the next election led by him. It also needs to be clear now that it is going to take up certain issues whether economic or social in the last lap. For the moment, it would seem that the Congress is setting the agenda, a tough act to follow given the manner in which it has done so at the moment.