Wanted: A Grand Young Party
The very fact that a term like ‘High Command’ still exists as a euphemism for the highest functionary of the Congress party tells its own story.
But the more telling fact about the Grand Old Party diddling along to make its presence felt at the Centre is that it has remained a party that has failed to come up with new ideas. Since it has been out of power at the Centre, the Congress has taken pains to tell its supporters what it doesn’t stand for. All one needs to do to know what the Congress stands for is read up the BJP manifesto and policies and turn them on their heads. The primary reason for this sorry state is that the Congress, despite being the party responsible for ushering the IT revolution under a young prime minister, has become associated with moribund politics.
The irony of this state of affairs is not lost on the man who worked with Rajiv Gandhi to modernise Indian telecom and, to a large extent, India itself. This week Sam Pitroda stated that it was time to ‘reinvent’ the Congress, citing Britain’s Labour Party as an example of a political party that not only rebranded but also reinvented itself with great success. Mr Pitroda’s observation that a country where 50 per cent of its people are below 30 cannot be ruled and managed by people in their 70s is an obvious that needed to be stated. But a party gerontocracy cannot alone be responsible for the Congress’s inability to pull itself up by its bootstraps.
A few young Turks entering the fray — that too following their parents’ political footsteps — do not a political challenge make. What is required is to make the party appealing for the young at the grassroots level. For the Congress to pick up lost ground, it has to first be gung-ho about what it stands for — secularism, liberalisation and technological progress. And for that, the Congress, before anything else, needs to inject itself with the passion that comes with a youthful presence.