After Karnataka, it is now the turn of Goa to throw up a crisis for the beleaguered Congress. Clearly, the grand old party is imploding because of the vacuum in the central leadership and lack of direction. With one State after the other slipping out of its hands, the Congress cannot afford to conduct the party affairs in its old nonchalant ways but needs to reinvent itself and resolve the leadership crisis at the top by looking beyond the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Otherwise, there is a clear danger of the party slipping into political oblivion in the face of BJP’s ruthless, ‘take-no-prisoners’ brand of politics. It is time the Congress followed the sane advice from one of its highly respected veterans Karan Singh and appointed an interim president and four working presidents, one for each region. While the collapse of a tenuous Congress-JD (S) coalition is imminent in Karnataka due to internal contradictions and devious toppling game of the BJP, a similar drama has played out in Goa where 10 Congress legislators, constituting one-third of the Congress’ strength in the Assembly, have deserted the party and merged their group with the BJP. The party has been consistently refusing to learn from past mistakes. The promised overhaul of the organisation, following back-to-back drubbing in general elections, is nowhere in sight. 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 a new party president is causing irreparable damage at a time when the opposition party is expected to 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. The drama being played out around Rahul’s resignation offer reflects poorly on the party and shows its helplessness. Apart from parroting platitudes and reverential references to the party president, the 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 of affairs. 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.