Reams have been written about AAP’s victory in the Delhi elections. As analysts are dissecting the reasons for the resounding defeat of the BJP within 10 months of its spectacular Lok Sabha mandate, AAP’s political rivals should concede that the new kid on the block has usurped with ease Rahul Gandhi’s mantra of ‘inclusiveness’ and the ‘Indianness’ tune of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Senior Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi had recently attributed the BJP’s victory in the general elections to “Bharatiyata”. In an interview he was quoted as having said “BJP had succeeded in convincing the people that they were closer to the citizens.... On the whole this was in a way the victory of Indianness”.
At a press conference a day after Dwivedi’s comment, the Congress distributed a 1970 speech of Indira Gandhi buttressing the inherent ‘Indianness’ of the Congress. In short, the party said, Modi cannot hijack the Indianness of the Congress.
As the two mainstream parties bicker over abstractions like Indianness, AAP ran away with the trophy. Its unprecedented electoral victory begs the question of whether the grand old party is losing its pan-Indian USP, ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘Indianness’.
Dwivedi’s hypothesis pre-supposes the thesis that the Congress lost the poll due to its lack of Indianness. That would also mean that the BJP lost the poll to AAP because it has lost its Indianness.
The factors that brought the BJP to power at the Centre were a convergence of a host of negatives against the Congress — an avalanche of scams, governance deficit, the anti-graft movement and, above all, not sincerely implementing the original ‘inclusive’ agenda pursued by Indira Gandhi. Not because Indianness was at play.
Yet another downside has been the ideological confusion. Being a Left-of-Centre party that it is not bound by a single ideological thread, political power is an adhesive that keeps the Congress going. A long spell out of power makes Congressmen restless and they start searching for greener pastures.
Though the Congress cannot be subscribing to any religious ideology, the next best thing it can do is to can make the party cadre-based on the lines of the RSS, the CPI(M) and AAP. Rahul Gandhi had earlier made feeble attempts to make the Congress cadre-based but he appears to have given up the idea.
It will be an uphill task for him to reinvent the Congress. With nothing positive going for the party, only Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal can provide some succour to the Congress by messing up the governance agenda and squandering the public goodwill. Both have proven to be shrewd political managers and are not likely to falter easily.
(Kay Benedict is a freelance journalist. The views expressed by the author are personal.)