Sonia Gandhi has returned as President of Congress as the boomerang of the party is not entirely unexpected. The so-called think tank of the party is just a team of well-trained pet army of cheerleaders. Congress today is struck in a trap that it has laid for itself.
- Anugula Rakesh Reddy
Boomerang was an ancient method of hunting among indigenous people of Australia. A specially designed wooden blade with aerodynamic properties will be thrown towards the target only to rerun back after a hit. Eventually boomerang became a popular recreational sport with world competition. Maximum Time Aloft (MTA) is a very popular format of this sport, it merely measures the amount of time lapsed before boomerang returns , current world record is 3 minutes 49 seconds for the boomerang to return to its sender. If India were to be represented in this competition, it has to be members of our own Gandhi family. Congress went back to Gandhi family in less than two months. This is a brand new world record among dynastic political parties.
Sonia Gandhi has returned as President of Congress. Why wouldn’t she? The boomerang of congress party is not entirely unexpected. The so-called think tank of the party is just a team of well-trained pet army of cheerleaders. Congress today is struck in a trap that it has laid for itself. Many congress leaders would like the masses to think Rajiv Gandhi as an architect of modern India. While this is a propaganda-based narrative that they compulsively built among the cadres, the large malicious footprint that he left on the congress party has not been discussed enough.
From being a party of ‘freedom fighters’ to a refugee camp of quasi liberal individuals, it’s indeed an incredible journey of dilapidation. Today’s situation of Congress was carefully, if not a wisely orchestrated debacle. Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure has fundamentally altered the party’s character. The team of ‘intellectuals’ that Mr. Rajiv built were mere cheerleaders in the disguise of politicians. These were members of the same gang, who went to school with the party leader, or shared the same neighborhood as the party leadership. This is so much in contrast to which party was initially conceived on. This is the same party, which had an election among stalwart of leaders like Subhash Chandrabose and Pattabhi Sitaramaiah to choose the party president. Today, it has reached a stage where it conducts twelve hour meeting among the cheerleaders to decide that they cannot have anyone else other than Gandhi family to lead them.
How can we expect a party that cannot think beyond a family to be playing constructive opposition in a large democracy like ours? The level of intellectual bankruptcy of the opposition is very evident in its behavior at the parliament when the most productive parliament session is in progress. The congress has exposed itself on several occasions in the last two months. In a historic circumstance like Kashmir integration, congress is busy peddling fears among minorities, not realizing that they are standing along with enemies of the country.
The congress has remained red faced after its parliamentary leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury tried to call Kashmir as an ‘international’ issue. Did Indira Gandhi take UN permission before signing Indira – sheikh accord in 1975? A leader, who represents the grand old party of largest democracy, either has no knowledge on history of Kashmir or has an idea about the public pulse on the issue.
An opposition party can have different ideology but should not act against the national interest. But congress out of sheer desperation is towing line to scores of leaders from enemy country.
In sixty years of congress rule, there was never a single attempt to integrate Kashmir with the rest of the nation. In fact, there was a conscious effort to keep Kashmir ghettoized away from the rest of the nation. Generations of Kashmir remained isolated with no participation in economic growth that the country witnessed in the globalized circumstances. In fact, all the privileges of Kashmir were diluted during Congress tenure. Starting from abrogation of financial independence in 1954 to 1975 Kashmir accord, the nature of special status was weakened in a blatantly deceitful manner keeping the local population in the dark. This has lead to ambiguous and unstable conditions in the valley. Enemies from across the border then exploited these vulnerabilities to manufacture secession sentiments. Moreover, Congress has systematically extrapolated the Kashmir issue across the country to garner minority vote bank, the cost of which was paid by innocent Kashmiri youth. With the dawn of the strong decisive government in Delhi, this status quo has been removed for good, finally.
An opposition party can have different ideology but should not act against the national interest. But congress out of sheer desperation is towing line to scores of leaders from enemy country. A party, which once had immense competition among talent, has become a household business of one family. However, this case study is important as it has very valuable lessons for many regional parties. There is a pattern which occurs in four stages -
Stage 1 - Subjugate internal talent. At some point all the political parties had leaders who has grown from grassroots. Like the leaders from student wings, people movements etc. In stage 1 all such organic leadership pool will be sidelined, making them feel trivial. Example, how the former Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao was treated in late 90s within his own party.
Stage 2 - Cheer for more. Fill party with sycophants , yes men. Power kept in the hands of pseudo politicians. The more they cheer, they better they are positioned in power. Example is rise of lutyen gang in Congress era.
Stage 3 - Total disconnect from common public and their aspirations. Due to lack of voices from the field , party leadership will have no idea of public mood , needs or aspirations. As a result in this stage, parties tend to talk more about freebies rather than governance. Corruption creeps in within the party and leadership remains ignorant. Example - whole mis-governance of UPA was in this stage. So ignorant that Congress was that it started normalising corruption at mass scale.
Stage 4 - All hail prince. Acknowledging the brewing crisis in party lines, a change of guard to new scion will be round the corner. Slowly but affirmatively, the party leadership will be transferred to an undeserving but privileged ‘prince’. Already demotivated cadre becomes more indolent. Seniors defect from party to join rivals. Those who remain are blind hailer of the prince.
Now, stage 4 is a point-of-no-return for a political party. Once this stage is reached, any change at steering will only ‘boomerang’. The pattern is obvious and driven by greed of power. Congress keeps playing boomerang at stage 4. But it has its own by-products. One of the key by-products is justice to crimes done in stage 3. This is exactly what we are witnessing with the arrest of Mr PC Chidambaram . Those who cry vendetta in INX media case should understand that Mr PC is a repeat offender on many occasions. But this time , he is caught red handed and justice will be delivered as deserved. While the CBI found remittances of high value money into Karti Chidambaram' s account exactly at the same time when Finance Ministry provided it's approval FIPB approval to the company (INX Media), Mr Karthi Chidambaram was busy running a campaign against corruption in 2017. What else can explain irony in a better way ?
This pattern can be observed in many regional parties along with congress. Starting from Rahul Gandhi in Congress to Kumaraswamy Gowda in Karnataka all of them have come down to this point of no return. Today, many regional parties are filling their cadres with faithful cheerleaders rather than expertise and skillful. TDP is already in stage 4. TRS in Telangana is accelerating itself from stage 3 to stage 4. In the temple of democracy, it is only voters who show the politicians the place they deserve.
(Author is the BJP State official Spokesperson in Telangana and Director of Center for Leadership and Governance)