Is it time to call for the Obituary of the Indian National Congress?
The Indian National Congress is one of the oldest political parties in India. Although around for decades, it seems that it is bracing towards collapse as we leap on to the next decade beyond 2020.
The results of Bypolls and Assembly elections for everyone to see and understand. Faced with ruthless competition from the ruling Party, the Congress is doddering. Even in States, it has won, like Goa and Karnataka, it lost its MLAs and elected representatives who dumped the Party for greener pastures with the other Party. True, allegations of horse-trading were floated around. But as in Madhya Pradesh, there is clear evidence of Indians favoring turncoats. The BJP hardly won the mandate in Goa, Karnataka, or Madhya Pradesh, but turncoats swung the numbers.
Questions should be raised about how majorities are being stitched. Similarly, it's interesting to probe that the Congress, one of India's principal political parties, has no sway with its members. The leadership is non-existent. Even alliance decisions, such as which Party to align with, is being taken by a handful of state leaders. For example, in Maharashtra, the local leaders decided to board the Shiv Sena bus to power. Except in smaller States like Punjab, the Party can hardly stand on its own without an alliance with a regional party. Such are the affairs of a hundred-year-old Party who once ruled India with an iron grip.
Indeed if we do a cursory look at the top leadership, the people running the Party, there is hardly a name you could classify as an election warhorse or a mass leader. Most of the leaders have lost plenty of elections, are not ranked high for their oratory skills, or are known for their administrative acumen. As the heir apparent himself, Mr. Gandhi has no administrative experience and has lost the recent election from Amethi's safe family seat. The Party's continuous downfall and the diminishing vote shares in almost every other polls should worry.
It's true that the Indian media and even social media are heavily biased. We all read the WSJ report on how Facebook's senior employees advocated for Congress's main competitors. These kinds of situations ensure media blackout of many events and press conferences of the Congress party. The media ridicule it bears further drowns its voice. But that shouldn't mean that the Party stops trying. It has almost given up. The region where it is doing good is because of local leaders trying to protect their turf. Like in Haryana, they take their own decisions, do whatever they please, and the Party reaps the benefit of their local leaders' fight for their political survival. They are not necessarily thinking about the party ideology but their survival, and in few cases of the dynasty, they wish to erect.
Which brings me back to the big question about the relevance of the Grand Old Party of India. Is it now defunct, giving way to so many offshoots ( the regional parties running the show in their regions) and with a large number of its members ditching it in times that are probably the worst for the Party since its inception?
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