The Grand Old Indian Party is in survival mode
Victory is the only way a political party survives in the public eye. But the biggest challenge any political party faces is keeping up the morale of its cadres or supporters if it loses an election. If the party loses successive elections, then it becomes very difficult to provide the momentum of the cadres to continue until the next elections.
This is why leadership plays a very important role whether in politics – or in war. Alexander the Great summed it up: “An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.
Since the rise of Narendra Modi to the post of Prime Minister, the decline of the Indian National Congress has become rapid. The INC has lost state after state to rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Modi. Despite the fact that Congress is currently in government in the small states, the Grand Old Party is in survival mode. This created a bad perception of the party among the general population and among its supporters.
Deep structural issues
Unlike other parties, Congress is not a cadre-based party – it ruled India for long periods of time due to its powerful one-family rulers such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, and other regional satraps. The party increasingly focuses on loyalty to the Gandhi family as a benchmark for being a representative of Congress ideology rather than believing in Congress values.
The party places loyalty above meritocracy. So even a mediocre leader who is more loyal to the party will be more likely to show leadership than one who is more meritocratic. Thus, a perception is created in the young minds of India that the chances of growth are limited, despite a strong belief in their core ideology.
Politics is a matter of perception. A positive perception makes a party, and a negative perception breaks a party. This is the reason why the Congress party is not able to connect with the younger generations or the new voting banks of India. Loyalty is a story of the past. People today prefer meritocracy to loyalty.
For example, a company cannot maintain a culture in which an underperforming employee is part of the organization just because they are loyal. Sooner or later the business will collapse as everyone in the organization will continue to focus on demonstrating their loyalty rather than improving their performance.
Likewise, despite having great leaders, intellectuals, academics, thinkers, bureaucrats in a political party, the INC has not functioned to its potential, nor has it been able to benefit from their expertise.
According to a report by the Association of Democratic Reforms, more than 220 electoral candidates left the INC to join other parties in the polls held between 2014 and 2021, while 177 federal and state lawmakers resigned from the party during the election. the same period.
Almost 45% of MPs (members of state legislatures) who defected between 2016 and 2020 have joined the BJP. Several loyal leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Himant Biswa Sarma and Amarinder Singh who left the INC have openly criticized the role of his high command. This highlighted the internal conflicts.
What’s astonishing is that Congress has yet to appoint a full-time president, all the more worrying given that the 2024 general election is quite near. This shows the level of professionalism of the party compared to its big rival, the BJP, which already has a leader and a vision for the 2024 election – of Hindutva. The main opposition party cannot survive just in the hope of being anti-president and sticking to old narratives.
Liability of the opposition
Politics must be based on solving today’s problems. If a party can draw inspiration from the past, it must live in the present. The laurels of the past will not serve the present. The present is much more dynamic than the past has ever been.
Any political party must live up to the expectations of its executives and the population. The idea and space that Congress represents is vital for a strong opposition. But he must also understand his responsibility and his duties towards the Indian people as well as the aspirations of a billion people who may be looking for a better alternative. It is the role of a responsible opposition, to bring a vision different from that of the people.
Currently, Congress does not see a 21st century India apart from its old narrative of a secular, plural and diverse society. The party must therefore accept criticism head on, at the same time as it must make an appropriate introspection to remain consistent with current realities.
During the last two legislative elections of 2014 and 2019, it is clear that the INC was not able to communicate to voters its vision and the importance of a secular, liberal and pluralist society. Whether this is due to a lack of appropriate strategies or leadership is up to the party to decide.
Introspection is the need of the hour. It is time for the leadership and the strategies of the opposition to be decided democratically, otherwise there is no point in fighting an election whose results are expected. More so, a party conducts an election to protect and represent its ideology, not to protect its leaders.
If Congress cannot respect the principle of opposition, then neither does it have the right to obstruct other regional parties that have successfully represented liberal ideology.
Follow Ravi Kant on Twitter @Rk_humour