Many More Miles To Go
Expecting a revival of the party’s fortune after Rahul Gandhi’s much-talked about ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is premature as the biggest public relations exercise undertaken by the Congress in recent times was meant for the image makeover of Rahul Gandhi, rather than strengthening the party. As the country is already in election mode with nine state assemblies going to polls in 2023 and the general elections along with a number of state assembly elections due in 2024, it is high time for the Congress to promote collective leadership instead of promoting any individual or family, if the party is truly sincere in challenging BJP’s hegemony in Indian politics. Otherwise, the party’s electoral performances will continue to dip as it is evident from the three Northeastern states going to polls this month. In these states, the Congress doesn’t have the remotest chance of grabbing power on its own. In Nagaland, the party can at best make the forthcoming assembly election in the state a four-cornered contest. In Meghalaya, it has virtually no presence in the Garo Hills as the party’s face in the region Mukul Sangma and his followers left the party some time ago. The party’s presence in Khasi Hills has also dwindled in recent times. Further, in a move which will raise many more questions than answers, the Congress has agreed to enter into an electoral understanding with the Left as its junior partner by agreeing to contest in 13 seats only in Tripura. Absence of efficient leadership and able organisation can be cited as the main reasons behind the decline of the party in NE, which till recently was known as its citadel. Barring Karnataka, the Congress is facing similar situations across the country.
To make a turnaround from such a hopeless situation, the Congress needs proper vision to take the century-old party in the right direction. There is nothing to be buoyed about the thought that the 400 km long-march defying scorching Sun in the south and blistering cold in the north has allowed Rahul Gandhi to get rid of the dubious tag of being a part-time, non-serious politician. Even after the successful completion of the journey, Rahul Gandhi will have to walk many more miles to pose himself as a serious challenger to Narendra Modi. In this endeavour Rahul Gandhi needs strong organisational support. How effective a well-knit organisation can be, was evident from the recent Himachal Pradesh poll outcome, where the Congress has managed to dethrone BJP, despite the absence of the top leaders during campaigning. Thus, Rahul Gandhi should contribute his might to strengthening the party organisation rather than attempting to refurbish his image to reap any benefit from his 135-days-long yatra. At present, the task before the party is to reestablish a bond with the people, so that it can regain its lost popularity and be considered as a serious contender for the throne. It’s time for Rahul and other congress leaders to understand that the ‘leader first’ idea can at best be termed as an attempt to put the cart before the horse, which will not aid in winning any race.