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Cong must groom 24x7 politicians to revive image

Rahul Gandhi’s call for organisational elections to top Congress bodies and posts is a trifle late but better than never. If done transparently, it could address the charge of dynastic control of the party.

ht view Updated: Nov 04, 2014 00:27 IST
Vinod Sharma

Rahul Gandhi’s call for organisational elections to top Congress bodies and posts is a trifle late but better than never. If done transparently, it could address the charge of dynastic control of the party.

But the Congress’ crisis — in the wake of its humiliating defeat in Parliamentary polls and the just-held assembly elections — has many layers to it. Besides the leadership conundrum, the perceptional nadir to which it sank during UPA’s second innings worsens each passing day. It wrought havoc in the Lok Sabha elections with resounding aftershocks in Haryana and Maharashtra.

“We’ve nothing more to lose,” conceded a top party functionary. But the implied sentiment that the Congress would gain once the NDA exhausts its honeymoon trip could remain unrealised without battle-ready cadres and a leadership rearing to go for the kill. On the face of it, it’s easier said than done — what with Narendra Modi setting the agenda and the foremost Opposition party presenting a near-paralysed tongue.

It has shown signs of acquiring a voice lately. But its narrative is mostly defensive or reactive. Even on issues of minorities, the Congress has turned diffident for an apparent lack of clarity on the efficacy of aggressive secularism. The ‘cost-benefit’ debate has its roots in assertive majoritarianism that is the BJP’s staple diet.

The sooner the Congress sorted out its talking points the better. As suggested at a meeting Rahul had with senior colleagues, the party should focus on bipartisan people-oriented issues such as jobs, inflation, labour, land and forest rights.

It should recognise that laggardly entities have no place in today’s real-time, moving picture politics. A prerequisite for that is an honest image makeover — in leadership terms, popular perception and organisational promise.

The BJP would keep reminding the country of the Congress’ excesses ranging from the Gandhi-Nehru monopoly of the post-Independence legacy to imposition of the Emergency, the 1984 riots and scams that buried the UPA. The onslaught would be hard to beat in the absence of meritorious, blemish-free faces in key organisational slots before and behind the cameras.

The Congress’ faces in the media should be a mix of youth and experience. Those promoted to be in the spotlight must also have the courage to take political adversaries head-on. That can only be done by people who have nothing to fear. Nothing to hide!

A major organisational drawback of the Congress in recent years has been of silence and absenteeism amid raging political debates and struggles on the ground.

Among those complicit in it are ‘tainted’ leaders or people with lives beyond politics — in courtrooms, lecture circuits and other gainful persuasions.

In contrast, the party’s adversaries are 24X7 politicians with a staying power unaffected by victory or defeat. Modi, Sushma, Nitish, Mulayam, Lalu, Jayalalithaa, Naidu, Mayawati, Mamata, Karat, Yechuri and Paswan fall in that category. They eat, live and breathe politics.

The Congress can measure up to their challenge through institutional promotion of native, ground-level intelligence. Besides the Oxbridge-Ivy League brigades, value has to be seen in educated youth with less privileged backgrounds.

They are the Gurkhas who aren’t deterred by adversity and can work long, excruciating hours without distraction. They’d be the ones willing to link their destinies to that of the party.