The other day, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi attacked the opposition without taking any body's names but the criticism involving talks of development clearly hinted at the supposed target. Now, Digvijaya Singh and P Chidambaram are seen taking on Modi on arguments that will help the Congress little in the election battle.
The Congress has no clear idea about what to do about Modi and things he talk about, including development. While at one time the party says that anointing Modi as the PM candidate is the BJP's internal matter, at another time it takes potshots at the opposition party for elevating Modi, even adding that it has committed a harakiri by backing such divisive leader.
The Congress needs to learn how to utilise the media to take on the BJP
The funny part is that when it comes to its own affairs, the Congress is in a bigger confusion. Party members, ranging from the prime minister to an ordinary post-holder, express a willingness to work under Rahul Gandhi but the prince is not very eager to become the PM and wants to serve the party's organisation. The party had been expecting a bigger role of Rahul for sometime but analysts feel that the debacle in the Uttar Pradesh elections in 2012 has given a big blow to the idea of Rahul as the next face of the Congress. If the party loses under him again in 2014, then there could be a serious leadership crisis in the party.
Finding itself in a corner, the Congress has decided to take a day as it comes and target Modi on each word he speaks. Modi belongs to the opposition party but it is the Congress which is carrying out the opposition's duty more diligently.
What the Congress should do instead of barking at Modi for whatever he claims? Here are some probable points:
Declaring Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate:
The Congress should immediately declare Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate. Given the poor-quality scripts that he have been reading at rallies, people might not feel overconfident but anointing Rahul as the PM will at least boost the party workers' morale. It is unfortunate that the incumbent prime minister, Manmohan Singh, is a shadow of what he was in 2004 and has little acceptability as the PM. Rahul Gandhi's halfhearted attempts haven't helped the party.
The Congress leadership needs to be forthright:
Instead of wasting time and energy finding faults with Narendra Modi, the Congress should showcase the high points of its own decade-long rule. The Gujarat versus India debate doesn't hold good for a party which has been in power for so long.
But the problem with the Congress is it's so much obsessed with the Modi factor at the moment that reasonable and logical steps towards a political counter-attack is least prioritised now. The anti-incumbency wave allows Modi to criticise the UPA but does that mean that the latter also digs out irrelevant points to counter him? It is too late, anyways, now to rectify things but at least there should have been a last-ditch effort. It is surprisingly missing in the party's rank and files. Is it complacency or capitulation?
Making a better use of the media:
This is something that the Congress has failed to manage. The BJPs' strength has been its media-friendly and tech-savvy communication skills while the Congress top brass prefers a distance from the public space. Rahul Gandhi might rope in the best of the minds into his team to devise the next strategy but the actual election can only be won in the dust and sun and that is the most important part.
The reluctance and the seclusion of the Congress's top leaders are their biggest weaknesses in today's India. There is a superficial effort to match Modi through people like Shashi Tharoor, but the latter is by no means a mass leader with an administrative background.
Preparing the future leadership
Instead of assuming that the 2014 Lok Sabha poll is the last thing on earth, the Congress should adopt a longer vision. There is an urgent need to flag off internal democracy in the party so that it can survive without the Gandhis. In fact, this had to be done long ago so that a new leadership would have been ready when Singh quits.
But the blind assumption that the Gandhis are always there to lend a leadership to the party has left both the mind and organisation of the Congress crippled. The rise of Modi as a leader outside the familiar circles of Delhi have put the grand-old party in a tight spot.
Calling the LS polls immediately
The party should call the polls immediately. The UPA II government turned into a lame-duck one perhaps in its second year in office and there was no way that the Congress-led alliance could reverse the deteriorating conditions in all spheres because it never had the leadership to show it a way.
Continuing with the same set of ineffective leadership and tainted members did a big harm to not only Manmohan Singh's credibility but the entire government. The decision to nominate Pranab Mukherjee as the presidential candidate also hit the government for it lost a regular trouble-shooter in the man.