Monday, 16 May, 2022
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Congress is failing in its historic duty, and also standing in the way of defeating BJP

The real question is not whether Jyotiraditya Scindia betrayed Congress or whether the Nehru-Gandhi party failed him. The crisis is much deeper.

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The real question about the drama unfolding in Madhya Pradesh is not the ethics of how a dynast has treated a feudal lord, or whether Jyotiraditya Scindia betrayed the Congress, or whether the Congress failed him. These questions invite us to be vicarious participants in the durbar intrigues and make us lose perspective.

There is little to debate about the young Maharaja’s motives of shifting from the Congress to possibly the BJP. The calculus of political opportunism explains it fully. It would be a waste of time to expose Scindia’s hypocrisy. Similarly, it is pointless to ask if the Congress handled the situation well. Something has to be wrong with a party that manages to lose key assets at a time when it desperately needs to conserve and rebuild. The BJP’s role in this sordid game needs no interpretation: the regime is out to decimate any opposition at any cost and would not allow any compunction, convention or the Constitution to come in the way.

Make no mistake about it: the Congress is imploding and everyone inside seems to be a spectator. When party leaders take to media editorials to make suggestions to their own party, you know that the party is in a free fall. The question we should be asking is this: is the unravelling of the Congress party something to worry about for those who are not party insiders? If yes, what is to be done?

Also read: Jyotiraditya Scindia — Congress loyalist & friend of Gandhis, until he felt betrayed by them

Party, space, concept

After the Lok Sabha election, I had argued that the Congress must die. As is the fate of such one-liners, everyone remembered it, yet no one bothered to read what I meant by it and why I said what I did. My point was fairly simple: Congress had failed to perform its historic duty to be the bulwark against the possible dismantling of our republic by the current Narendra Modi regime. Rather, it stood in the way of anyone trying to create an alternative to reclaim the republic. An instant and brilliant response by professor Suhas Palshikar had warned me against a literal and over-enthusiastic reading of wishing death to the Congress. Revisiting that argument might be a response to the big question that we should be asking today.

The Congress could mean three different things: a party, a space, a concept.

It could mean the Indian National Congress party registered with the Election Commission. Like a majority of political parties in India, it appears to be a family-run enterprise. The ruling Nehru-Gandhi family may well be benevolent in its intent. The late Jaipal Reddy said this to me about the Gandhi family: “They are truly liberal in outlook, but feudal by temperament”.  Something similar could be said about many Congress leaders. There is no reason why a republican should be bothered about the fate of this dynasty or the health of its political enterprise. In a political market, firms take birth and they die. Creative destruction should be welcomed in politics, just as in business. We should not mourn the death of a political enterprise.

Also read: Inside story of how Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi forced Jyotiraditya Scindia to dump Congress

Congress also happens to symbolise a space, that of a nation-wide, mainstream opposition party that is needed more than ever before to take on the BJP’s hegemony. After the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP’s hegemonic hold over national politics has got tighter. While regional parties have managed to match or defeat the BJP in state assembly elections, they simply don’t have the will or the capacity to take on the BJP’s project of dismantling the Indian republic, brick by brick. The republic needs a nation-wide political force that can resist this onslaught and match the BJP’s electoral and political machine. At this moment, the Congress is the only candidate for this slot. Hence, its coming apart is a cause for worry, even for those who wish to have nothing to do with this party.

Finally, the Congress also is a concept. It stands for the idea of a centrist coalition of social groups, classes and regions. It stands for a political arrangement that accommodates all conflicting visions of India without giving in to any extreme. Above all, it stands for a non-majoritarian way of creating electoral majority. This concept is not optional. This is the only way the BJP’s hegemony can be countered. This is the only concept that can hold India together. Every Indian must grieve the loss of this concept.

Also read: Those asking if BJP will suit Jyotiraditya Scindia are barking up the wrong tree. This is why

mahagathbandhan inside

The crisis today is not that Jyotiraditya Scindia has betrayed the Congress, or that Congress failed to give him his due space. The real crisis is that Congress leadership has betrayed this concept of Congress, that Congress party has failed to develop the capacity to occupy the space that was its own. The crisis is not just the loss of a useful leader in one region of a state, or even the impending loss of a state government in Madhya Pradesh. The real crisis is that the party does not seem to have a centre of gravity that can hold it together. For quite some time, the Congress has had no vision, no strategy, no message, no messenger. Now, there is an absence of political judgement and a loss of nerves as well. This is not merely the crisis of one party. This crisis can deepen the crisis of Indian democracy.

The latest episode shows that the Congress has exhausted its internal resources for dealing with this crisis. To be sure, the party still has brilliant thinkers, smart managers, crafty communicators, leaders with solid mass base, moneybags, and so on. But these are individual leaders and political entrepreneurs. There is no person or process to gather it all together and turn it into a collective strength that could be deployed to save the republic.

Sooner than later, the Congress must face it: the party needs outsiders to rescue the space and the concept that it named. There was a time when the Congress fed and sustained non-Congress parties. We may have reached the moment for a reversal of this flow. The vision that the Congress once stood for is articulated more coherently outside the party today. The party has no organisation and cadre to speak of. But a large number of movements aligned to the same vision have greater organisational depth. The answer is not merely a mahagathbandhan of the Congress with all anti-BJP parties. The Congress must itself become a mahagathbandhan to reclaim the republic. Or face death.

The author is the national president of Swaraj India. Views are personal.

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  1. What is the diff between CON in 2004 & now?Then ,SoniaG was younger.She had the strength. BJP’s Hindutwa was dwindling. She,also,had the acumen 2 accumulate others, formed the Gov. In Gandhi/Nehru bastion, the oldies R the spokes. Rahul Gandhi, fully matured or nt,is the only solution .

  2. Every one praising BJP/Modi. But is it not a fact that 15% of Indians are being made to feel unwanted in the country. ?
    CAA protests can be Easily handled if BJP top brass goes and talks to Muslims But that is infradig for them. BJP is reviving Two nation option,just wait and see dear Bhagats.

  3. Yogendra Yadav is simply a wailer and just not getting it. The workers in the Congress party are not working for the Nation. They are only working for the ‘families-in-command’ who are trying to keep themselves somehow relevant to cut deals for their own protection. Scindia realizes that quite well, and is no more willing to be a stooge for the families-in-command. Period !

  4. It is very very easy to destroy anything. what requires character and effort is to build or create something. The author has miserably failed in that sense.

    • very true. Yogendra’s analysis is pretty sound as long as he does not think “congress”. Yogendra-ji, remember German history and what happened to SPD and the communists because they failed to trust each other. Instead of taking pot-shots at the congress, try for opposition unity – congress and all!!!

  5. More Congress sustains life, more it will harm India. Crooks like YY must vanish from India as they play destructive politics. Anti-CAA propagandas have made it clear who is enemy and who is friend of India.

  6. Why India was a colony for 1000 years, look no further than the congress party.

    Politicians in that party are smart creative some mass leaders but at the end of the day they all say the same thing, Nehru Gandhi dynasty is their savior. Such a blind devotion and slavish mentality even when getting education from prestigious institutions here and abroad.

    On top of this media like this author writes heaps of praise to an entity which only begets slavish mentality and subservience to Nehru Gandhi dynasty.

  7. For his own reasons the author has put a halo on the Congress (I), which is just the most successful offshoot of the original INC. In no way can it be compared to its parent the original party. Bequeathing it some ‘historical role’ is hyperbole and sycophancy. It is nothing more than a family enterprise where the primary loyalty is to one family. Party members compete in sycophancy and rewards are based on that. Remember ‘ India is Indira..’ slogan. Every ill that now blights India is a legacy of this party, even if it is not the sole reason. Like every organisation it has seen ups and is now down. If it deserves to come back it will else something else will take it’s place. No need to shed tears.

  8. Sonia has visceral hatred for Hindus. Congress party, since Nehru, has been working hard to make Hindus forget their civilizational heritage and give them a false rootless identity. The Hindus of this country are finally waking up to this monumental fraud they have been subjected to. The Congress party that has been waging a cultural genocide on the Hindus deserves to die.

  9. If the Congress goes, perhaps an AAP can take its place , if Kejriwal changes some of his attitudes. many senior Congressmen may find AAP conducive and help it gain traction in other States, which Kejriwal has found very difficult so far.

    • Kejriwal can never be a team player. He is a solo artist. That is why he cannot succeed.

  10. Yogendra is as usual clever by half.
    1. There is nothing wrong with indian democracy. Modi is a popular leader and BJP is in clear majority at the national level. But at state levels, BJP and opposition parties are evenly matched. But just having a weaker opposition doesnot mean indian democracy is under threat. Insead of Congress as the ruling party, with a clear majority, as was the case till 1990s with weak opposition, we have the BJP in similar position now. If indian democracy was safe then, so it is now. 2. Yogendra’s idea of Republic is his view which is not supported by majority. We cannot have a Republic where majority view is trampled and minority view prevails. We have a Constitution and a truely secular world view by the majority Hindu community. These are enough for nurturing our Republic. 3. A Scindia being in Congress or in BJP is hardly a big issue. Congress could afford to let him go and BJP feels he adds some heft to it. However, if he joins cabinet finally, Modi will possibly get a competent, young minister. It will do good for his cabinet. 4. Whether Congress is a political party and a space and also a concept is an attractive sophistry but it only shows Yogendra is nowhere. He was rightly kicked out of a party. He is badly searching a place for himself. His concept of idea of Republic of India is nothing but his frustration of being nobody in that Republic. However, he should of course keep visiting TV studios. It is a good entertainment at the prime time to watch his theatrical performances as he makes faces, gestures and modulates his voice while pontificating !

  11. The wheelers and dealers who would like nothing more than a corrupt and weak government are mourning the loss of Congress which helped them carry their nefarious activities. The Real face of middle men is revealing

  12. The Congress has a sick women as the interim president and a dumb as the only possible future president. Why would the citizens vote for such a stinking party mired by scandals after scandals. The time to redeem the party was the second half of 2014 not 2019 as opined by self serving intellectuals cum liberals. Rahul has worsened the prospects of the party with his buffonry in the psst 5 years.

  13. Republic and it’s notions are a monopoly of the few it seems. Mr Yadav’s version of the republic and democracy. Education do makes people arrogant and it tends to make him think on behalf of the people. He is just one among 1300 million people who had their own idea of democracy and the republic. If majority are happy that their democracy and their republic is making progress…our Modern day son of Gods, will tell us why they all are wrong… So yadavcarcy is the system they should follow, Mr Prophet after Mr Mohammed bin Abdullah of Arabia.

  14. Sir, do you support the way present Maharashtra government formation took place?
    Are you trying to join Congress to save it??
    I think rule of majority with adequate representation of minorities is best solution. Unnatural pushing up of minorities, against majority is sure recipe of a disaster.
    By showing these hubris, Congress and people like you have done real disservice to minorities.

  15. We Indians have failed to fulfill Gandhi’s wish of disbanding Congress party after independence.

  16. Very true Yoginder Ji! I truely hope that CONGRESS wakes up from its deep slumber for the sake of India. Otherwise we are going to path of self destruction of secular democracy with no return under BJP.

  17. 1. Author has made logical observations. Grand old party called Indian National Congress has lost mass support. 2. As we all know the Congress has actually become a regional party, with less than 50 Lok Sabha MPs. Is it not true that Congress’ national status is already under a threat? 3. Regional parties like RLD, and NCP, with whom Congress has alliances in Bihar and Maharashtra respectively, are seen to dictate terms to the Congress party and the Congress’ top leadership appears to be helpless. This is a very sad situation but perhaps it is a bitter reality. 4. As the author has suggested, future of the Congress party lies in the party rightfully claiming its place as a centrist party. 5. If the Congress seniors do not take into consideration reasons for rapid erosion of voters’ base of the party, no one will be able to save the party. 6. Incidental observations: (a) I wish to say that the Congress party has to review its policy of secularism. Secularism cannot be interpreted to say that the majority should make all sacrifices and minorities (a term which some politicians use to describe people of Islamic faith) be allowed to maintain a separate identity. Congress party leaders should accept that secularism will survive in our country only if it serves interests of the majority community as also of all minorities. (b) Our Constitution is meant for protection of India’s majority. How can provisions of the Constitution be interpreted to cause permanent damage to the vast majority? It is sheer political opportunism and dishonest interpretation of our Constitution to oppose CAA.

  18. Swaraj India? Is this a Party? Do they have any MPs or MLAs? What is the credibility?

    Only Media keeps them alive!

  19. To be a leader, one must have followers on the ground, not on social media. Does Sanjay Jha and Salman Soz have any followers for Yogendra Yadav to term them as leaders?

  20. The sooner Congress awakes from its slumber, realises its concept and regains its space, the better for the Indian Republic which is in peril.

  21. Are you nuts? Sometimes a lemon is just a lemon – no need to psychoanalyze it. Can you not see a “leader” who’s been sidelined and has decided to take things into his own hands? Yadav-ji, is this a case of “sour grapes”?

  22. If wishes were horses beggar would ride. This is a popular saying. Yogendra Yadav says BJP is dismantling the republic and hence we need Congress much more today. There cannot be a bigger distortion of truth than this. BJP under Modi has been reelected because it built toilets for the poor, gave gas cylinders for those woman who burnt wood for cooking, electrified all villages, made good roads, eased a lot of government procedures for benefit of common man, the man at top himself is abaulutely non corruptible and rules with iron hands, article 370 removal ,CAA, insurance for the poor and many more…..if that is called dismantling the republic then yes Modi should get the credit for dismantling the old Congress structures where corruption and communalism was the hallmark of the Sonia led administration, where a Oxford educated supposed scholar was a mere spectator and where all the mediamen of low morals and corrupt tendencies flourished. So Modi has dismantled that and we are proud of him. In the process if Sonia’s advisor or inner coterie man Yogendra Yadav is having a hard time then he is well deserved victim of this collateral damage. And I am surprised that everyday a new Congress Lackey writes article here in The Print but never talks about Congress corruption or its open policy of Muslim appeasement due to which it lost 2 successive elections. Sonia Gandhi made an open call to Imam Bukhari of Jama Masjid to ask Muslims to vote for congress in 2014. The people of India answered her in the way she understands and in 2019 told her that 2014 election of Modi was no fluke. Yogendra Yadav is either foolish or trying to be naive in not understanding the reasons for congress decline. If he thinks that he and Congress spokies like Shekhar Gupta, Suhas Palshikar, Prof Apoorvanand of DU, Harsh Mandar from Sonia’s inner coterie, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, another self proclaimed scholar and many others… can mislead people while remaining silent on congress’s corruption and communalism then they are living in fool’s paradise.

  23. Fine, thoughtful column. The family / high command, it is becoming painfully obvious, is not upto the task of reviving the Congress party. They are banking, as happened in 2004, although that was driven by the South, that the incumbent will become unpopular and lose power. Victory by default. 2. A decade in power masked many inadequacies of the family. In the harsh light of adversity, there is no place to hide. They are not mass leaders, unlike Mrs Gandhi, who could go above the heads of weak colleagues and regional leaders and forge a bond with the people. They do not even have the sagacity to manage the intrigues of a large political formation. Give deserving people their due. 3. If the incumbent continues to underperform, it might lose power. Such passivity on the part of the principal opposition party hurts democracy. The Gandhis are taking the Titanic down. Everyone, like Mr Scindia, who is able bodied, is finding a small boat and rowing away. Kuchh Mutiny on the Bounty honi chahiye …

  24. BJP will be shown the door by the poor economy, y as in any country… It so happens, the odds are high in India.

    • They’re not liberals. It’s high time we call a spade a spade. They’re opportunitist with little regard to any ideology what so ever. Let’s reclaim the word Liberal. It’s Hinduism that’s liberal & India is liberal because of Hinduism and not because it’s mentioned in our Constitution.

      I really find BJP liberal on economic front & on cultural front it’s safe to call it a centrist party.

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