CONGRESS leader Rahul Gandhi has become a subject of intense discussion in Indian politics. Questions are once again being raised about his capacity to fight the overarching figure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. An influential section of public opinion wants him to step aside and let another leader take over the party. But despite promising to hold elections for another leader of the party, Congress high command has chosen to delay the exercise. Meanwhile, the party is continuing its losing streak. Its rank and file are demoralised. It is losing even senior leaders, the latest being Congress veteran PC Chacko who complained that there was “no democracy left” in the Congress and not sparing even the “high command” in his recriminations.
This is the party’s state of affairs at a a time when elections are being held in four states – West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam- and the union territory of Puducherry from March 27. The outcome of these elections will be crucial to the future direction of India’s politics. The elections in West Bengal and Assam would be even more significant.
Bengal is poised for a high-stakes battle between the BJP and the two-time Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s TMC. The TMC has been losing leaders – including her most trusted strategists to the BJP. Congress, on the other hand, has been reduced to a peripheral role in the state. The party faces a similar situation in three other states. It has some chance in Puducherry. Overall, the Congress is in dire straits in almost all the states. And it seems to be doing little to stem the rot. As things stand, Rahul Gandhi is unable to lead and the party isn’t appointing another leader also. Things, as a result, are in a limbo. Congress is unlikely to emerge as a force unless it reinvents itself.
It is now clear that the Modi wave remains alive and kicking. After a few reverses here and there over the past six years, Modi’s appeal has only grown stronger. He is now certain to win many more Assembly polls, more so, the upcoming election in West Bengal unless Congress and wider opposition gets its act right. If no credible opposition emerges from the shadows in the near future, a prospect which looks bleak.
Rahul Gandhi’s term at the helm has shown that he is not just up to the task. The situation is not any better among other parties. There is no major pan-India leader to take on the persona of Modi. While Gandhi and many others look like minions, the likes of Mamta Banerjee and Mayawati who once showed signs of shaping up into credible rivals have too paled into significance. The caste based parties in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who were only hope to stop Modi’s juggernaut have bitten the dust. This situation calls for the opposition within the country, especially the Congress to reorient their politics to challenge the omnipotent nature of the BJP. But this looks unlikely to happen in near future.
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