Refusal to Introspect
As expected, the much hyped three-day ‘Chintan Shibir’ of the Congress has ended without providing a proper roadmap for rejuvenating the party’s traditional support base. Rather, support to the party may erode further as the party has not taken a categorical stand on crucial issues like secularism, tolerance and equality, the three pillars on which the party had stood strong for so long. Further, the issue of forming an alliance with like-minded parties has also not been resolved. It would have been better if shedding arrogance, the party had decided to revisit 2004 when it successfully foiled the BJP’s attempt to come to power by joining hands with like-minded secular parties. But in their own wisdom, the party further alienated itself from the non-BJP parties by questioning their ideologies. Due to such unresolved issues, the so-called brain-storming exercise appears to be simply an effort to protect the present leadership, which is facing severe criticism from within the party.
The leadership issue must be addressed first for the party to make a comeback. The party needs someone who can pose a formidable challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, instead of giving the BJP a walkover. Ever since 2014, under the present leadership the performance of the party has been abysmal, to say the least. Under this leadership, the party was defeated in two general elections along with numerous Assembly elections. Previously, the party suffered defeats mainly in states where the Congress was engaged in direct electoral battles against BJP. But recently in the Punjab Assembly election, the party was bested by Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party (AAP). In such a situation, most parties would have changed its leadership, but it appears that the Congress is not willing to hand over the reins of the party to new leadership. As a matter of fact, the outcome of the three-day meet appears to be an effort to quell the pro-changers.
Similarly, the party’s stand regarding secularism is filled with ambiguities, which is unexpected from a party that claims to be the champion of religious tolerance. At a time with many allegations of intolerance in the country, everyone expected that the Congress would vow to protect the age-old tradition of the country. Quite strangely, the party remained silent on this issue and showed signs of adopting a line of soft Hindutwa to counter BJP, despite the fact that on several occasions, such an approach had failed miserably. Moreover, the party is yet to divulge its stand on issues like Kashi, Mathura or Agra. The party could have stated that it was during the Congress rule in 1991 wherein a law was enacted to prevent any changes to religious monument sites. However, by remaining mum, the party has disowned the law. It proves that the Congress meeting lacked vision and its reluctance to introspect can be termed as the cause for its decline.