Sunday, 4 December, 2022
HomeOpinionWhy the Congress should stop complaining about not having money

Why the Congress should stop complaining about not having money

Money will follow the opposition’s path if it has one.

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India’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party is flush with funds, and we’re only talking about the cash in the bank. This is not surprising. It is the big businesses that fund political parties. In their own interest, they are wise to fund the ruling party, and the party likely to win the next election. There was this time when the Aam Aadmi Party won 67 of the 70 seats in Delhi in 2015. I saw a miserly shopkeeper give an AAP leader a generous discount. “Everyone salutes the rising sun,” the shopkeeper told me.

It takes money to fight elections, lots of it, in white, in black and in grey. In any election in the country today, you can see that the BJP has an advantage in terms of resources. Almost no party is able to match the BJP’s resources 1:1.

The Congress is behind by a long shot. The Congress supporters rue that the big businesses give most of their political donations to the BJP. The big businesses, therefore, are to be blamed for the Congress’ near-empty coffers, not its poor leadership, strategy or fundraising efforts. Certainly, not Rahul Gandhi.

Also read: Neighbourhood RWAs face greater scrutiny than political parties in democratic India

Question is, why have the Congress coffers been empty even though it ruled the country for 10 years from 2004 to 2014, and had many state governments during the period? This is even more strange when you consider that the Congress lost power thanks to a long list corruption charges. There was a time when a new scam allegation would hit the Manmohan Singh-led UPA-2 government every week.

Maybe the Congress and the Congress-led UPA-2 was completely honest. But if the party’s bank account hasn’t been overflowing despite being in power for 10 years, something’s wrong with its fundraising. Fundamentally, it’s the belief that returning to power is inevitable. When the people of India get fed up of Modi, they will return to the good old Congress, and so will the flow of money from the big businesses. If it happened in 1980, 1991 and 2004, why not 2024?

This theory of inevitability has been crushed by the 2019 results with the Congress party’s fortunes showing no signs of improvement. If anything, they have worsened in the Hindi heartland.

Looking ahead 

So, how will the Congress now have any money to fight future elections? Having governments in Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh could help a bit, as might being in the treasury benches in Karnataka. And that is one good reason why Modi-Shah will seek to orchestrate Operation Lotus and snatch some of these governments away from the Congress’ hand.

Also read: Now we know who is behind the massive funding gap between BJP and Congress: the corporates

The BJP gets money because it is able to create the perception that it is going to win the election. This money makes sure that it indeed wins the election, making big businesses donate even more to the party.

In such a situation, the only way the Congress and other opposition parties can attract more campaign finance is by creating the impression that they can win the election. Money will come if opposition parties like the Congress actually do something. It won’t come by wanting to spread love, taking a foreign holiday every three months and being glued to the phone in Parliament.

Creating this impression will actually require doing something on the ground — agitations, movements, campaigns. It will need these parties to engage with the masses, an art they seem to have lost.

A lost opportunity 

Small traders, for instance, were very unhappy with the Modi government because their businesses were hurt badly by demonetisation and GST, as also by digitisation and globalisation. Did any opposition party really try wooing the small traders, the MSME owners and the Baniyas? This is a community with money. It could have funded opposition parties.

But our opposition parties presumed they won’t be able to win this vote bank, given its commitment to the BJP-RSS and the Hindutva ideology.

But how would the opposition know without trying? If the BJP can successfully break into the vote banks of opposition parties, the latter can also do the same to the BJP. When asked if the BJP was alienating its traditional core voter base of Baniyas and traders, the BJP-RSS leaders and workers often said (privately), “Where will they go? To the Congress?”

Also read: This Lok Sabha election has most candidates using online crowd-funding for campaigns

If the Congress and other opposition parties had made a big effort to woo this community after GST, they could have heaped rich rewards. Most of the community would still have voted for the BJP, but some would have started funding the opposition. This would have also helped create the perception that the opposition could defeat the BJP, bringing it even more money. Everybody salutes the rising sun.

To win such battles, and earn the trust and cheques of donors, the opposition will have to work hard on the ground, be with the people, show them that they have better solutions to their problems than the BJP. This will need spending more time on the streets and less in plush hotels.

The Congress and other opposition parties should stop complaining about money. Money follows hard work and smart strategy, in politics as in any other profession.

Views are personal.

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  1. Shivam Vij writes very well and this is a well written article about money issue Congress is focused on.

    There is more to this:
    Some liberal apologists are asking why BJP spent so much money in this election (One of them asked me this question just yesterday over lunch at my place)?

    The answer can be found in what Edmund Hillary answered to a similar question from a reporter: Why do you climb mountains.

    His simple answer was: because it’s there.

    Vijay Rajvaidya
    India Currents, Inc.

  2. Who in their right mind will fund the congress when it is led by a complete nincompoop. Rahul Gandhi just doesn’t have to get going.

  3. It willbe naive to assume that the same corporates who now buy electoral bonds and support the present ruling party did not during the previous Govts support the then Govts with financial support. One of the biggest supporters of the present Govt grew exponentially, during previous Govts. And continues to grow aggressively under the NDA Govt. In new arrears with tacit support and deep pockets. But this Govt has legalized the financial donations by amendments to Acts in force.. What is confusing that despite the economic slowdown they continue to donate to the ruling party. That may be due to many reasons . Firstly the opposition was split and the ruling party were better organized.. But their silence and continued support is probably out of fear that they could be targeted by the Govt on some charge or another by the unseen hand that they could be discriminated against. Can one explain how cases against some opposition leaders were kept pending and dropped after the elections after many years. But with the country’s interest at heart, one hopes the present Govt,will take the required measures to ensure economic stability and growth, fresh investments and job opportunities,!ss

  4. simple. Donations made to congress are in the coffers of the family and Chmachas . That is the reason why congress coffers are empty

    • Rightly told. What has happened to the funds looted for the past sixty yo sevrty years, right from nehru period? Where was it hot invested and in whose name?

  5. “Hard work and smart strategy” ? Rahul and hard work are alien to each other. As for ‘strategy’, the only strategy Rahul ever knew, or exercised was to personally abuse, ridicule, trivialise and demean Modi particularly, and the BJP generally. That apart, Rahul & his Congress STILL cannot believe that Modi is the PM from the ruling BJP, having clearly WON an election in a Democratic country. . They STILL believe that Modi “SOMEHOW” managed to steal Rahul’s PM chair from under him when he was not looking, and are sulking like a primary schoolboy whose Toffee is snatched away from him..

  6. Contradictory statement.The author says congress in power in Karnataka has access to money, then how did they get routed
    In that state?
    Real reason being all the looted money went in to personal accounts of dynasts leaving the party coffers high and dry.
    I also believe the so called intellectuals like this author assume every body else is stupid,forgetting they are the ones becoming senile and
    demented due to their long stay in an echo chamber as well mutual admiration society.
    Just feel sorry for sad.

  7. The problem with the author is that he believes that elections are won by mere propaganda irrespective of its credibility. Mere hard work and smart strategy cannot impress voters if they see the “smartness” to fool them.

  8. “Question is, why have the Congress coffers been empty even though it ruled the country for 10 years from 2004 to 2014, and had many state governments during the period?”

    Because of demonitization. This is exactly what Modi had been saying: Those with black money were the ones whining the most about demonitization. Imagine Congress’s extreme discomfort—depositing that all that old scam cash into bank accounts would have invited penalties and scrutiny + bad optics for the naamdar Gandhis.

    BJP on the other hand enjoyed the combined benefits of being in power, being business-friendly and electoral bonds.

  9. Very well expressed. More and more I am inclined to believe that Rahul Gandhi is too naive to be a politician.
    Also all those who have accused the Congress of mega corruption should show us where those funds are parked and send the offenders to jail. OR SHUT UP.

    • Raga is naive for everything. He has surrounded himself with a coterie and totally blind to others including ground reality and facts and has failed to ground himself. Politics is about not eliminating opposition down to the last atom and that’s precisely what modi shah duo is doing. Congress needs to evolve as a new party as a whole and bring itself before the people in a newer and better Avatar, after proving their sincerity and dedication to the nation, by really involving in constructional criticism of the government. It will have to get rid of the dynasty brag and tag which is an irksome inherited surname. Else, it’s curtain call for Congress.

  10. Money is given not given for hard work but hardly working who talks more. As for as funds, no business would donate without returns which they should get favours contact etc. From Tentwala, sweet lalas and big business change side according to need. When BJP was put power, they also felt the pinch. It is only after the got, they were able build swanky HQ. Satha is what attracts more paisa whether BJP now or Congress in past

  11. Nice, with all this solid advice from your writer the Congress Party will get back into fighting shape and win not only the Indian elections but also in all neighbouring countries. Then your writer can also be exported across the border…

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