Congress’ Existential Crisis

THE Congress organized three-day brainstorming conclave or Chintan Shivir in Rajasthan’s Udaipur to find ways to rejuvenate the party. The need for the session has been occasioned by the party’s recent poll debacles which has threatened its standing as a viable pan-India party. What is more, the parties like AAP which now rules New Delhi and Punjab are stepping into the breach.

Ahead of the conclave, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for keeping the country in a permanent state of polarisation, brutalising minorities and threatening political opponents. Incidentally, some leaders of G-23 like Ghulam Nabi Azad were also present at the session.

Now the question is whether the ideas from Chintan Shivir will be implemented. And if the party will make the leadership and organizational changes so necessary  for its survival at a time when PM Modi reigns as an overarching political demigod immune to anti-incumbency. And Congress in its current avatar is not even a distant challenge to him. The party now lacks the support base to pull off polls in a minor state as its abysmal performance in recent elections in five states would have us believe.

This is such a sorry state of affairs for a party which ruled India for over fifty years after independence. And its chances look slim in the upcoming state polls this year. This is why a breakaway group led by Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma and calling itself G-23 is demanding serious reforms in the party. But this has split the Congress down the middle with Gandhi family supporters and opponents at loggerheads with each other. However, G23’s rebellion marks a break from the passivity of the last eight years with the party apparently seeming to have resigned to its current lot. But it won’t also be easy to elect a non-Gandhi president. And the party has its own reasons for this: a Gandhi not being at the helm will run the risk of breaking the party up. Also, in the present circumstances, Congress doesn’t boast of many a mass leader – albeit, there are many senior politicians who can be worthy successors to Gandhi. Gandhi’s term at the helm has shown that he is not just up to the task.

The PM Modi, meanwhile; is becoming unassailable by the day. Beyond a few reverses here and there over the last seven years,  his appeal has only grown stronger. He looks favourite to win many more Assembly polls, more so, the upcoming election in several states unless Congress and wider opposition gets its act right. That is, if no credible opposition emerges from the shadows in the near future, a prospect that looks bleak.

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