A lot many Congressmen are telling whoever cares to listen that they aren’t averse to sitting in the Opposition after the Lok Sabha elections. Does it mean they have accepted defeat without a fight?
Right or wrong, that’s the perception, fuelled by private admissions of an electoral debacle. But it doesn’t help being candid about such things in politics. It demoralises the rank and file, whose role counts more than the party’s mainline contestants and campaigners.
The point was driven home by the chief minister of a Congress-ruled state to a Union minister, who thought it brave enough to accept the prospects of losing power. The CM didn’t believe the minister when told he was quoted out of context.
Be that as it may, pessimism is the overwhelming sentiment in the Congress camp these days. The least the cadres expect from their leaders is some fighting talk. But even there, they feel let down by the party’s jaded, time-worn ripostes to frontal attacks from rival formations.
The Congress’s secular claims might reverberate with a section of the electorate. But by harping on it incessantly, it appears to be misjudging the ‘ground situation’ in key battlefields of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Hitler indeed is a villain of history.
But the less learned are driven more by emotions and aspirations than imageries dating back in time!
Shorn of sophistry, Narendra Modi’s narrative in these elections is debatable. But he has a story to tell, a dream to peddle. The Congress, in contrast, is struggling to stitch together a riveting theme, a set of promises that connect with the people.
The ruling party needs to quickly perk up its largely absentee electioneering. Its failure to clinch sure shot alliances — with the TRS in Telangana and Ram Vilas Paswan in Bihar — makes it come across as an electoral liability.
Punjab, where the Congress has roped in a new ally in Manpreet Badal, is an exception. But it has drawn a blank in Tamil Nadu, where it traditionally partnered the DMK or the AIADMK.
The game might not have altered radically had these tie-ups reached fruition; the lineups would have prevented nevertheless the impression of a one-sided contest. The defeat that looks inevitable would in that case have been respectable.
In the face of such daunting odds, the talk of senior Congress leaders’ reluctance to enter the fray or seeking nominations for their kin on their seats is deeply demoralising.
The weak-kneed are forgetting that getting defeated is a lot more honourable than surrendering. Didn’t Indira Gandhi lose Rae Bareli and AB Vajpayee Gwalior?
This writer remembers Vajpayee telling him that he had just lost a battle, not the war. That was in 1984. A decade-and-a-half later, the BJP veteran became the Prime Minister.
A lesson here for the faint-hearted?