Editorial

Congress In Coma, Dominating BJP…..

According to the political analysts Congress, become a soul-less party. A clueless, self-serving rank and file. A rotten mess. The Indian National Congress (INC) of 2020 is anything but a political instrument of the masses for the masses that it once was. At best, it’s a group of clueless leaders with little or no connect with the people of India, with little or no connect with their own historic past. And virtually no formal position on anything. For instance, does the Congress fully support all the farmers’ demands? Or does the party have a nuanced stance on them? If so, what are those points of agreements and disagreements? The apex body of the party hasn’t deliberated on any issue India confronts – beyond the realm of political expediency. The Congress Working Committee rarely meets, and when it does, it struggles to get over it quickly to debunk the crisis the party’s leadership faces. The CWC does not discuss the party’s hollow apparatus. The AICC sessions are a rarity. And holding consultations with civil society a thing of the past. In short, the grand old party has become obsolete and a pale shadow of its historic past. Across India, its spaces are consumed by regional and sub-regional forces, with no impact on the national character or say in the current autocratic policy-making processes. With the BJP’s continued ascendance as a dominant party in India today, bent upon making us a Hindu state, a fractured opposition and its continued fragmentation into regional and sub-regional parties that do not even remotely challenge the BJP’s dominance, question remains: what happens of the INC? Will the grand old party survive the despondency that plagues it, the threat of extinction? An uncontested and unchallenged ruling regime is escaping away with virtually every decision that creates fissures in the society and causes social and economic pain – from demonetization to flawed GST to the new farm laws that have stirred the peasantry into protests all over. If lack of a dialogue and consensus marks the functionality of the Modi government, a complete collapse of deliberations within and outside plagues the INC’s functionality at local, regional, state and national levels. India stands at a juncture where a one-man regime – aided by a succulent cabinet, a pliant media, a clever executive, and a friendly judiciary – is using democracy to thrust undemocratic ideals upon the Republic, suffocating the probing voices, while the political opposition is clueless, obsolete. Vast sections of masses are supportive of the regime, for varied reasons including the authoritarian streaks that the BJP government demonstrates quite unabashedly. But vast sections are also antithetical to the BJP’s idea of India – mobilizing them on one platform is hard and looks impossible without the existence of a national anchor. A pandemic is raging through, the economy is in tatters, the federal polity is crumbling, sectarianism is on the upswing, and our society is fast eroding into a mobocracy fighting over untruths. The blame must largely be upon us, the people. While we may have our differences of castes, creed, religion, or ideology, we forgot that we are bound by the edicts of our Constitution; some of us have gone too far to obliterate that and embrace the archaic decree of a bigoted religious order. Is the Congress ready to be the common denominator to rope in the masses of all hues? For that, is it ready for a course correction on some of its own policy programmes? Today, it is not. It has no national goal. Its organization is empty or filled with rootless wonders. And it has no national programme to rally its own cadres, let alone the masses. On Twitter and other social media platforms it is active and that’s where its activities and engagements end. What’s the road ahead, then? Of the two of three paths available for the liberals and moderates, the two are not impossible, but given the urgency of the matter, may not dovetail the luxury of time. A completely new alternative to the Congress and the beleaguered Left parties or building of an umbrella of regional political outfits under a common programme to create a national force seem plausible but impractical. The regional and sub-regional parties, given their limited appeal and lack of a national character, are equally unreliable because they are driven by the compulsions of power. The third way is for the masses to seize control of the grand old party by forcing open its doors, because its original character is that of the instrument meant for the masses of all castes and creed, now devoid of them. This option too is plausible but not easy to operationalise. The Congress won’t and can’t on its own reinvent itself. The current leadership across states has no credo or calling to go back to the masses to seek a national renaissance of sorts. Modi is the least of the problem. The problem is the intelligentsia, social democrats, and centrists have all collectively deserted their national imperative to build a national political platform that would keep India on the path of Constitutionalism and confront the brazenness with which the current regime operates.

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