The Congress should ideally be marching to save itself from democracy

If elections were held today for Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, it is quite likely the Congress would lose badly and become a marginal force in politics. Not much has changed politically since democracy destroyed the Congress in a series of elections between 2013 and 2014. The party has the same set of national leaders — the family — and almost the same faces in the states where it was routed in Assembly elections. There has been no change in its policies or politics, it raises the same old tired slogans and looks every bit the moribund outfit thrashed by voters in the past two years.

So, it is ironic the Congress is marching to save democracy. Beware, democracy is actually a threat to the Congress.

Rushing to the streets of Delhi to flaunt their support for the dynasty could be great exercise in sycophancy for Congress workers. But, it doesn't amuse voters anymore. Indians can't help noticing that the rage of the Congress spills over on the streets only when the family is in trouble. They are amused by this spectacle.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Congress workers won't flood the streets of Marathwada when it is struggling with a severe drought. No, not even a symbolic donation of labour (shram daan, as the Congress used to call it earlier), where workers try and deepen ponds, feed fodder to cattle or donate packets of food and water to farmers. But their blood will boil when the Gandhis have to appear in a court in the National Herald case or face tough questions about the AgustaWestland deal.

Unfortunately, the strategy of marketing Saving Private Rahul as Saving Democracy just won't work in today's India.

Instead of dedicating itself to the seemingly altruistic pursuit of saving the democracy, the Congress should first focus on saving itself from certain ruin. The party's current heft in politics is because of its numbers in the Rajya Sabha, where it has so far managed to block key legislation to ensure the Narendra Modi government is not able to deliver what it had promised.

But, it is fast losing governments in states — only Karnataka would be a major government in its bag after 19 May — and politicians of stature to poachers. Since its stock is falling, donations have dried up and the party's coffers are beginning to dry out fast. During the march on Delhi's streets on Friday, the lack of enthusiasm and energy in its workers was palpable. In their weary steps and effete voices, you could read their despair. You could see that the loyal soldiers had gathered in Delhi to save the dynasty, but without much conviction or hope.

The problem with the Congress is that long ago it degenerated into a family-controlled conglomerate — you can call it India's G Company — that deals in politics instead of a people's movement or a democratic outfit.

It became answerable only to its owners and dedicated itself to the pursuit of their survival. During the past two decades, the only political upheavals within the party of any significance — the ouster of Sharad Pawar and later Sitaram Kesri — were aimed at restoring the hegemony of the dynasty.

The Gandhis can survive only if they take care of the interests of those who serve them: loyalists, darbaris and workers. The entire Congress ecosystem depends only on the amount of power and its fruits the dynasty can disburse to people in the political food chain. Since any threat to the existence of the dynasty is a threat to the chain of Congress beneficiaries, they still come out, though in diminishing numbers, to support the Gandhis.

Greed and fear have become the defining emotions of the Congress, a far cry from the mottos of idealism and rashtra seva it once espoused.

It is marching to its slow but certain end.


Published Date: May 06, 2016 07:44 pm | Updated Date: May 06, 2016 07:44 pm


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