The Congress is in a state of limbo. The promised overhaul of the organisation, following back-to-back drubbing in general elections, is nowhere in sight. Its leaders are back to doing what they are best at: infighting. In States where it is in power either on its own or in a coalition, the party is in the grip of dissensions. The uncertainty over Rahul Gandhi’s offer to resign as the party president is causing irreparable damage at a time when the opposition party is expected to reinvent and rejuvenate itself and reset its strategies to take on a much stronger and aggressive BJP. Be it Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana or Karnataka, the Congress is caught in utter chaos with senior leaders being engaged in a bitter public spat. Party veteran and former Karnataka Chief Minister Veerappa Moily’s advice that Rahul Gandhi must end the uncertainty and set the house in order deserves serious consideration. The time has come for the Grand Old Party to look beyond the dynasty and nurture new leadership. The drama being played out around Rahul’s resignation offer reflects poorly on the party and shows its helplessness. While Rahul, the sixth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to head the party, has every reason to quit the post owning moral responsibility for the defeat, the way he slipped into a shell soon after and made himself unavailable to the party leaders for a candid discussion and assessment has sent wrong signals to the cadre.
Apart from parroting platitudes and reverential references to the party president, Congress veterans have not demonstrated any willingness to give a new direction to the party. In politics, it is said, there are no murders but only suicides. The Congress has only itself to blame for its existential crisis. It must look within, instead of seeking excuses outside, and candidly introspect the reasons for the pathetic state that it now finds itself in. The predicament of the Congress in the cow belt largely reflects its diminishing impact across the country. It needs to find the winning ways, not by continuing its current narrative of Modi-bashing but by presenting an alternative political narrative and economic agenda. A major problem facing the party has been its failure to promote and nurture strong regional leaders with independent thinking. The Grand Old Party must realise that the days of centralised political management and ‘high command’ culture are over and it needs to nurture regional leaders and give them the necessary freedom to devise strategies and pick winnable candidates. Rahul needs to come up with a fresh narrative to connect with the post-liberalisation generation and go to people with an alternative agenda that is modern, reformative and inclusive.