The clock is ticking for the Congress. How it fares will be known on May 19 but if the exit polls are anything to go by, there would be little to cheer about for the grand old party (GOP).
It is likely to lose Assam and Kerala; in West Bengal, its alliance with the Left, which is also getting marginalized, seems to have failed to uproot Mamata Banerjee, even though her regime has been accused of well-publicized scams; and in Tamil Nadu, it remains a small player despite the manifest venality of the two Dravidian parties.
What is striking about the Congress’ steady decline is that it is happening despite the not-so-sterling performance of the Narendra Modi government. It is indubitable that Modi has failed to live up to the expectations he himself had raised; the promises of bringing back black money, jobs, achhe din, Ram temple, tackling terror, abrogating Article 370, etc., have been observed in the breach. The GOP has not been able to capitalize on any of the failings the Modi regime.
It is not that these failings have had no impact on the fortunes of the Bharatiya Janata Party. It was humiliated last year in Delhi Assembly polls; it did badly in Bihar a few months later. Yet, the saffron party will do very well in Assam, even if it is unable to form government in the state. The party is also expected to open its account in Kerala and get a few seats in Tamil Nadu, thus registering national footprints. Notwithstanding the setbacks in the national Capital and Bihar, the BJP has had a secular rise (no pun intended).
Further, those who gained at the cost of the BJP are smaller players—the Aam Aadmi Party, the JD(U), the RJD. Okay, the Congress also did well in Bihar, but the gain was too small and insignificant for the 130-year-old party which not long ago enjoyed a predominant position in the country.
Such is state of the GOP that has ruled the country for over half a century that it was reported to be “ecstatic” with its win in four out of 13 wards of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in by-polls! “It’s a very big victory for us,” said Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken. The party didn’t win any of the four wards even in the 2007 and 2012 MCD elections, he added. Starved of good news in the last few years, the Congress is left to celebrate minuscule feats.
The issue is: how did the party reach where it is now? The answer is simple: the Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty, the GOP’s rotten core, is the problem. Like the Biblical burning bush that never got consumed by the flames, this core too continues to rot without fully decaying and eventually vanishing. And party leaders have somehow got so entranced by the Dynasty that they are unable—to use former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s favorite term—to think out of the box. To be precise, out of the invisible prison that the Dynasty has built around them; they have become so accustomed to the security of the prison that they are reluctant to breathe the air of freedom. Suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome, they have actually in love with their jailers, the Dynasts.
So, even the most idiotic commandments of Sonia Gandhi are fervently adhered to; this is what happened when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power. Fiscally ruinous and economically disastrous policies were chalked out by the Sonia-headed circus called the National Advisory Council; they were executed by a slavish regime. The aftereffects of these policies and schemes are felt till date.
Congress leaders are also condemned to eternally look askance at any member of the Family for redemption, even if that person happens to be as clueless and dumb as Rahul Gandhi. The alternative? Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, whose politics, if any, nobody is aware of. Or even that real estate wizard, Robert Vadra.
The Dynasty was successful for decades primarily because it had inherited the largest party. Over the years, however, other parties came into being and grew in size, mostly at the Congress’ expense. In the four Assembly polls, too, it seems that all parties would gain—again at the GOP’s expense.
Clever, glib Congress leaders will blame everything under the sun for the unabated decline of their party except the Dynasty.