Has Congress Completely Lost the Plot?

Written By: Pathikrit Payne
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Congress continues delusional behaviour
It's been three months since the Lok Sabha Election results were announced and the grand old party of Indian politics was not just reduced to a shocking double digit figures but were left with the worst ever election results since its formation. Three months is enough time to take stock of situation, accept the reality with grace and to start working towards redemption. But it seems that is not the case with Indian National Congress.

The delusional grandeur of India's grand old party continues and it seems unable to come to terms with the reality of being humiliatingly usurped from power by India's electorate for running one of the most defunct, dysfunctional, ineffective, insensitive and corrupt government for a decade in the history of independent India.

Congress and the Mani Shankar Aiyar Syndrome

Over the last three months, not only Congress has failed in accepting the reality, time and again its senior party members have committed acts which reflect disdain for the electoral results. In addition to that, certain most unfortunate statements continue to reflect the pathological hatred many of them still retain for Narendra Modi. That he is now the Prime Minister of India, elected (and not nominated) by a decisive mandate, that his popularity continues to be high, seems to cut no ice with Congress.

Most readers would remember the caustic comments of senior Congress party member Mani Shankar Aiyar of mocking Modi's background as a tea vendor and would remember as to how that became a rallying point for BJP and how the party used it to prop up the Brand Modi's popularity even further. But it seems that Mani Shankar Aiyar did not learn the lessons. A few days back, in the most distasteful fashion stated that if women power can drive Narendra Modi to sea, he would congratulate them.

In Mani Shanker Aiyar's words, as quoted by NDTV  (read more)‘ "Women who have proved that they can work for the public...if we bring them into the Congress, then Modi-ji will be forced to return to Gandhinagar tomorrow. Aur agar aapne aage samundra tak pahuncha diya to aapko bahut bahut Mubarak (And if you can drive him to the sea then congratulations to you!),"

Political differences notwithstanding, such distasteful remarks of disdain against the Prime Minister of India is not doing any good for Congress and is only exposing their sense of vulnerability and inability to find a good counterpoint.

Boycott of PM by Congress CMs may turn counterproductive for the Party

This issue of vulnerability is further vindicated by a sort of boycott of the Prime Minister that many of the Congress Chief Ministers have started, after Haryana Chief Minister was booed by the people of his own state, while he was sharing the dais with the Prime Minister during the foundation laying ceremony of a national highway project.

As the Haryana Chief Minister came to speak, an anxious crowed jeered as most were probably more eager to hear what Modi had to speak. Such was the level of embarrassment of Hooda in his own state that he not only finished his speech in a hurry but vowed never to share the dais with Modi ever again.

The fear of being booed and jeered has been running so deep that Maharashtra Chief Minister decided to boycott a similar program of inauguration of the Nagpur Metro Rail project where he was supposed to share dais with the Prime Minister.

Yet instead of blaming BJP or the Prime Minister, would it not be better for the respective Congress Chief Ministers to introspect as to why things have come to such a naught that they are hesitant to speak in their own states? Has it not more to do with their own tenures of poor governance?

Sadly for Congress, Modi's personal popularity remains high

After a thumping victory that Modi got in the Lok Sabha elections, if Congress had hoped that the burden of managing a moribund economy left behind by UPA, a recalcitrant bureaucracy and the challenge of reducing prices without worsening the fiscal situation, already stretched, would bog Modi down, then it has certainly not happened that way for Congress.

In each of the issues of managing a difficult economy or improving governance, positives are clearly visible. If the Opposition parties found it difficult to criticize the budget and grappled to find fault with it, then they were literally fumbling for words, clueless to the core and had to grudgingly accept the excellence of Modi's debut speech from Red Fort on Independence Day.

Thus even while Rahul Gandhi was found napping in the Lok Sabha, and his subsequent act of bravado of running to the Lok Sabha Well did not impress the people, Modi's popularity has remained intact. Be it his prompt decision to cancel talks with Pakistan after the Pakistani High Commissioner met with the separatist leaders of Hurriyat, be it his passionate speech from Red Fort, be it the humility with which he raised very pertinent and often ignored issues sanitation in rural India, be it his honesty with which he has accepted the existence of turf wars in issues of governance, be it is personal touch in terms of making the BRICS Bank dream possible and above all, his personal commitment to bring change for good has made sure that his own personal popularity with people has remained impressively high.

Has Congress introspected well enough?

Thus perhaps it is time for Congress to do some introspection and realize where exactly it is faltering. Its internal reports which absolve Rahul Gandhi of all responsibilities and blames for poll debacles, its increasing factionalism and its inability to get its acts together are all working against it.

A blatant and a vicious anti-Modi stand did not work in the past and would not work now either. Delusional grandeurs notwithstanding, the grand old party seems to be as clueless and grappling helplessly as parties like RJD or JDU.

With assembly elections round the corner in several key states including Maharashtra and Haryana, it seems Congress has not yet realized the importance of having organizational acumen in winning elections.

With the Gandhi magic not working anymore, with soaring factionalism not helping either, and with Amit Shah in his new avatar as the BJP President having bolstered the organizational strength of BJP even more, Congress needs a new genie out of the bottle to remain in relevance.

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