Congress shares its DNA with which India, Mr Rahul, new or old?

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Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday that his party is the only default option that the country has for India and Congress share the same DNA. The 43-year-old leader reportedly said this at a closed-door workshop on social media. He also asked the party workers to counter the Opposition but not by resorting to negative criticism for tolerance, inclusiveness and brotherhood are the pillars of the Indian culture and the Congress too has abided by them. According to him, if India is a computer, the Congress is its default programme.

The target of these words are not difficult to point out. It is a sort of Gandhian tactics that Rahul Gandhi has prescribed (as he also did in the past) but there is some inherent fault in the thinking that if India is a computer, the Congress is its default programme.

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On the contrary, Congress has lost its root

On the contrary, the Congress has clearly struggled to maintain its once-revered position in the Indian polity. The party's basic character has undergone a sea change since the days of Indira Gandhi. From a social coalition of freedom fighters, the Congress became a political family's business and now, when that family has been much weakened, the party is turning into an outfit of confused political activists who have little understanding of what is happening on the ground.

There is a clear lack of direction and understanding of crucial issues that have put the entire country in a spot (read economy, corruption, foreign policy) and the party vice-president chooses such a moment to remark that India and Congress share the same DNA.

Gandhi's grandmother Indira was a ruthless politician who knew the craft of manipulation perhaps best than anybody else. She didn't take the best of the policies during her long rule but yet the 1971 victory over Pakistan and the 1975-77 Emergency were two significant milestones of her days as the ruler. She managed to return to power three years after the Emergency was withdrawn, thanks to a poor Opposition and her own charisma.

But the current Congress leadership lacks any such leadership. It had returned to power in 2009 precisely because the Opposition was in a disarray and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh still had some reputation left. Not anymore. The Congress has lost the leadership, at least to offer to the common man. And neither it has the ideology, social coalition and the universal appeal as it used to have in the Nehruvian and pre-Indira era.

Social media is different from socialism, Mr Rahul Gandhi

Perhaps Rahul Gandhi has not understood the difference between socialism and social media. The former was a easier bet in a closed system and hence the Congress ran for it, only to inflict a long-term harm on the nation's interest. But the latter is a fare more sticky wicket for it involves not only an openness but also a huge diversity to deal with.

The party must first connect to the people by speaking consistenly

But dealing with the media has not been a strong point for the Congress for while its top leadership hardly opens up, the lower leaders don't have a common line of speaking, perhaps because the party lacks a cohesion apart from the family factor. So no matter how much Rahul Gandhi tries to educate his partymen not to resort to aggression on social media, the latter will eventually do that because they have little else to say on constructive and meaningful issues.

Romancing the past gives one a good feeling but in the ruthless world of politics, it yields nothing. The Congress must learn how to connect to the common man and not feel satisfied just with setting up social media accounts and groups to operate them. Only then, will Rahul Gandhi will be able to gauge whether his party still shares the DNA of the new India.

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