Events in Goa tell us exactly why the Congress is dying a slow, painful death and instead of empathising with it, why people are celebrating.
Goa was within the party's grasp. Voters had given it enough seats to form the next government with the help of parties that had contested on an anti-BJP plank. On its part, the BJP was humbled and rejected, the defeat of the chief minister and his senior minister being evidence of the popular mood. Yet, the Congress not just failed to form the government but it also allowed the BJP to beat it in the race for the numbers.
For the moment, let us keep aside questions on the Goa governor's conduct. On some other day, under some other dispensation, the governor may have invited the single-largest party to take the first shot at government-formation. But, that debate has ended with the Supreme Court's decision for a quick floor test, which the BJP won through whatever means were available to it.
Supporters of the Congress are now pointing to a Pramod Mahajan speech that mocks minority governments. In his speech in Parliament, the late BJP leader is heard laughing at the irony of the single-largest party (his own) being in the opposition, the smaller groups running the government and lone victorious members of their parties becoming powerful ministers. Just like Mahajan then, the Congress has reasons to be angry.
But, the blame for letting Goa slip from the grasp should go to the Congress and its leaders. Smug in the belief that the majority was with them, the Congress high command did a Hamlet and took ages to get its act together. Several Goa leaders now privately berate senior leader Digvijaya Singh, who couldn't help the legislators choose their leader. Reportedly, while the Congress legislators were haggling with each other and the high command, the BJP reached out to other parties and independent legislators and secured their support.
Such lethargy, confusion and anarchy would have been unimaginable under a strong leader. But, it is a reflection on Rahul Gandhi's presumed leadership. That the Congress snatched defeat from the jaws of victory shows the Congress vice-president has no hunger for success, clarity of thought and purpose. Reflecting his style and temperament, the Congress too has turned tired, pessimistic and defeatist.
Goa, incidentally, is not the first instance of the Congress handing over state governments to the BJP on a platter. It has happened in the past in Arunachal Pradesh, where the Congress made a fool of itself in spite of the backing of the Supreme Court and allowed its legislators to defect en masse. It almost lost the government — before it was voted out in the recent elections — in Uttarakhand when Rahul failed to deal with internal rebellion.
Rahul's inability to deal with discord shows either he is naive or disinterested and arrogant to the point of preferring his ego over the party's interests. His failure to deal with individual aspirations is the reason why the Congress allowed the BJP to make inroads in the northeast. Rahul's indifference and inept handling of the situation forced Congress leader Himanta Biswa Sharma to quit and seek revenge. Sharma is now helping the BJP spread like wildfire in the northeast. Left to him, Rahul would have also ensured the party's destruction in Punjab by preferring sycophants over Captain Amarinder Singh. But, some quirk of fate made Rahul relent and give Singh independence to run the campaign in Punjab.
But, the Congress still doesn't figure out the source of the conflagration burning the party. Instead of addressing the source of the problem, it is behaving like a cantankerous old man who can't do anything except make some noises that nobody is willing to take seriously.
On Friday, in characteristic fashion, the Congress disrupted the Rajya Sabha, complaining of impropriety. But, how does throwing a fit in the House help its cause when the battle has to be waged elsewhere? To make itself heard, the Congress needs to get out of the cosy confines of the Rajya Sabha and hit the streets with a cogent argument and a credible leadership.
Its inability to do both tells us what ails the party and why it is destined to die because of faulty diagnosis and inadequate treatment.
Published Date: Mar 17, 2017 02:07 pm | Updated Date: Mar 17, 2017 02:07 pm