The demise of India’s Congress party

Published: October 27, 2014
The writer is a syndicated columnist and a former member of India’s Rajya Sabha

The writer is a syndicated columnist and a former member of India’s Rajya Sabha

The defeat of the Congress party in Haryana and Maharashtra in state elections does not come as a surprise. This was expected. Those who have followed political developments since the 2014 Lok Sabha election had inferred that the party was a story of the past. It had been battered by the charges of corruption so much and for so long that it had no public image left. The other parties, particularly the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), are finding favour with the people.

Take Haryana. It never returned more than 10 BJP candidates in earlier elections. This time, the party has constituted its government there single-handedly. This shows the strides it has made. Maharashtra has seen the Shiv Sena pulling down the Congress colossus, but the BJP had never been in reckoning there. The Shiv Sena and the BJP together have an absolute majority there today.

Whether this astonishing scenario is due to the spell which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cast on the nation is not a matter of discussion any more. There is no doubting that the BJP has emerged as a national party and that Modi is a national leader. True, nationalism is the trump card that Modi plays. Parochialism is its main content. Secular forces are meekly surrendering.

Surprisingly, both Haryana and Maharashtra, progressive otherwise, have returned very few women to parliament. The parties are essentially to blame because they fielded very few female candidates. But the archaic thinking of voters is very much evident, too. Nearly seven decades after independence, women have not been able to get their due.

I do not think that the Congress can bounce back for at least another decade. And that, too, would require new vigour and new leadership. Since Congress President Sonia Gandhi does not see beyond dynastic politics, there is very little hope for the party to recover. She does not appreciate, even after years of projecting Rahul Gandhi that he does not sell. The disorder in the Congress is palpable. The growing frustration within the party ranks only confirms this. Some old Congress loyalists have found courage to raise their voices and have blamed Rahul and his team for the debacle. But such voices are stifled within the party, with Sonia and Rahul running the show. Now that both have failed, who do the people turn to? Both had reportedly once offered to resign. But the loyal Congress working committee had refused to accept their resignations. Both continue to constitute the party and its leadership. And both have seen to it that non-dynasty elements do not come up.

Logically, Rahul’s political career should have been over after the two back-to-back reversals, one in the Lok Sabha elections and the second in some of the state assembly polls. Yet, in dynastic politics, there is no room for such a debate. The Nehru-Gandhi family is still being considered central to the survival of the Congress. Rahul is important for the party, particularly when Sonia is suffering from indifferent health. Despite the resentment against Rahul’s style of functioning, the sycophants in the party are still hopeful that he would one day act like a leader.

That, in a way, sums up Sonia and Congress’s strategy. It is amusing to see the party leaders sheltering Rahul from criticism. The A K Antony report that followed the Lok Sabha polls points to organisational weaknesses rather than putting the blame squarely on Rahul for the defeat of the party. He had to be pulled out of the election campaign in Haryana and Maharashtra because he was having a negative effect.

One good thing that Sonia once admitted in a letter was that the revival of the party was a challenge. Her letter to Congress leaders offered encouraging words, infusing fresh confidence to overcome hostile conditions. “This path is long and requires relentless struggle. But I am confident you can overcome the hostile conditions with your determination and hard work. I am always there with you in this struggle. I shall be in regular contact with all of you,” she had said.

For demoralised Congress leaders, the letter served as a soothing morale-booster. They admitted that unlike Rahul’s attitude, Sonia’s letter was full of humility, with soothing words providing them with some much-needed comfort in these difficult times. Yet, they wonder why Rahul was still relying on his advisers who had failed him in assembly elections held in the last two years.

The plain truth is that people in the Congress have nowhere to go except to rely on dynastic politics, which has run the party since independence. Jawaharlal Nehru was compared with a banyan tree, which did not let anything beneath to grow. The Congress was dependent on him. Consequently, none in the party emerged to be its natural choice for leader when he died. Indira Gandhi, his daughter whom he had groomed, was not acceptable to the party in the beginning. Yet, slowly and surely, she made her way to the top.

The end of the Congress may not be good for the country because it provides an ideological platform with pronounced secular credentials. What is still disconcerting is that the vacuum created by the vacation of the Congress is being filled by elements that are inimical to the integrity of the country. Their efforts to polarise the country have already evoked a sense of discrimination in the country. The attack on the people from Manipur in Delhi is one recent example.

Unfortunately, the Modi phenomenon has the blessing of the RSS. This amounts to interfering in the affairs of governance. The appearance of the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, on the government-run Doordarshan was unfortunate and told the story of RSS ideology being an integral part of the government. At present, Modi is trying to focus on development, not on the RSS philosophy. But he will have to distance himself from that organisation for the sake of credibility. Indian Muslims are feeling insecure and they have to be given confidence. How Modi does it is his business. But he must do something about this.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Hafiz
    Oct 27, 2014 - 1:05AM

    shame on communal congress and anti-national rats!!


  • Rajeev Nidumolu
    Oct 27, 2014 - 2:54AM

    For democracy to function India needs a centrist party with credentials not linked to religion. Unfortunately Congress has failed miserably as it is perceived by majority of Indians as dynastic institution attracting unscrupulous, opportunist and corrupt elements. Only way for Congress to rejuvenate is for it become democratic and meritocratic and distance itself from the dynasty. Is that possible? Only time will tell


  • Shuaib
    Oct 27, 2014 - 5:38AM

    My friend who’s Indian said Congress will definitely get back into power one day and I believe him. Congress might be down bur they are not out.
    He wasn’t pro Modi but says his policies are getting better by the day. He’s liking him more because of that. He didn’t like because of his alleged involvement in the riots and no he is not Muslim he’s Jain.


  • Prakash
    Oct 27, 2014 - 5:54AM

    And Mr Nayar, you need to get rid of this nonsense talk about Congress being secular and BJP is not secular and all that nonsense. Your attitude is what loses elections for the so called secular parties.
    Samajwadi party is the most rabidly communal party in India. And the media and people like you call that a secular party. Hindus are sick and tired of your hypocrisy and had enough of it. You mistake vote bank politics to be secularism.


  • SKChadha
    Oct 27, 2014 - 6:17AM

    Nayyer Sahib, you have become too old to judge the present day feeling of Indian Youth.Recommend

  • Shamsher Jatt Bajwa
    Oct 27, 2014 - 8:25AM

    Congress is done deal, it will never come out of the ashes! And it’s not anyone fault but their own looting public money and playing communal tactics for past 67 years! India will never go back to dynasty politics we are done with the Nehru-Gandhi family!


  • vinsin
    Oct 27, 2014 - 11:25AM

    How come congress is for secularism? Congress leader themselves say that they are for Pluralism/Islamic India. India Muslims already have Pakistan and Bangladesh. Indian non-Muslims are also feeling insecure because Indian Muslims opposing secularism, human rights, women rights, child rights, animal rights, religious building and clothing laws. What about non-muslims of the subcontinent?


  • A Chowdhury
    Oct 27, 2014 - 11:31AM

    “The end of the Congress may not be good for the country because it provides an ideological platform with pronounced secular credentials. ” – You mean vote bank politics, caste based quotas, gelling with Kashmiri separatists ?

    You know, the real problem to our society is pseudo-intellectual authors like you who easily mislead the common man.


  • Jor El
    Oct 27, 2014 - 11:52AM

    “The end of the Congress may not be good for the country because it provides an ideological platform with pronounced secular credentials.”

    Who has given the Congress the certificate of pronounced secular credentials. ???


  • BlackHat
    Oct 27, 2014 - 12:46PM

    Congress will soon disintegrate. There will be Congress (R), Congress (S), Congress (P). Other Congresses will need double letters.


  • Arun
    Oct 27, 2014 - 12:50PM

    I wonder whether such so-called secular authors have the decency to look at the reader feedback or like the dynasts, they are also immune to every criticism. It is quite clear from the majority of comments that the congress beguiled India in the garb of secularism all along, but kept up the hate quotient so they can come back to power again and again, without moving a muscle towards wholesome development.

    Modi is showing he cares for India and ALL Indians. At least the commitment is there for everyone to see. So stop all this nonsense hate mongering.


  • Tyggar
    Oct 27, 2014 - 1:09PM

    Left leaning and Congress flunkeys think pulling down the majority constitutes secularism


  • Parvez
    Oct 27, 2014 - 1:26PM

    Interesting…..very interesting. What I notice is that what you are advising is a cautious balanced approach and this is being misunderstood in the present flush of Indian politics that championed the ‘ Hindutva credo ‘, in my opinion, more as an election strategy…….and you rightly say that secular is the correct way to go. How Modi manages this has still to be seen.
    Luckily the Constitution and the Courts are there to provide a balance, if needed.


  • Tyggar
    Oct 27, 2014 - 5:07PM

    and you rightly say that secular is the correct way to go

    1) “Minorities have the first right on National resources” – Congress
    2) “All Indians will be treated equally” – BJP

    Which among these two statements do you consider secular?


  • prakas
    Oct 27, 2014 - 5:25PM

    Very good thought provoking article.India must have 2 party system but not congress as second party as it promote dynastic rule which against the spirit of democracy.


  • Menon
    Oct 27, 2014 - 6:18PM

    Congress is not a secular party, it is vote bank party which kept the religious differenced burning on both sides so, it can win elections.

    Nationalism is a very good thing. Parochial India first strategy is great.

    Great nation like India deserve a Nationalistic leader like Modi.

    People like Kuldip running around preaching the Sickular nonsense stunted the progress of the country and now India and Indians are being unleashed.


  • Oct 27, 2014 - 7:11PM

    Hope INC will come back in power, These mad regime just fueling sub-continent towards MAD.


  • Gp65
    Oct 27, 2014 - 7:25PM

    It is true that Modi has been accused of Hinduttva but no one has been able to point o a snle speech of his (he gave 400+ speeches) where he said anything against any religion. He did say that the holy book for those that govern is the Constitution. No one has been able to point a sonle policy of his that favors or discriminates against anyone on religious basis. MSM media calling him communal does not make him so.

    On the other hand there are any number of statements and policies of Congress leaders that favor people of one religion. Right from the Shah Bano. Case to Manmohan Singh saying Muslims have first charge on nation’s resources to Salman Khurshid advocating reservation on basis of religion. People like this author calling Congress does not make it so.


  • Gp65
    Oct 27, 2014 - 7:49PM

    @Jahangir Chauhan:
    India has a no first use policy and Modi is on record as saying that conventional war between India and Pakistan is not an option given that both countries are nuclear. No Indian vernment leader nor army chief nor newspaper are constantly referring to India’s nuclear status.

    Pakistan on he other hand does not have a No first use policy, its leaders in government , the army leadership and its media is constantly bringing nukes into the discussion and implying that somehow exchange of fire on order (started by Pakistan) has the potential to result in a nuclear war. This nuclear blackmail is not new. What is new is Indian government is calling your bluff.

    Since India has a no first use policy and Pakistani generals are not suicidal, nukes will never be used. People in India understand hat and are in no mood to be bullied.


  • Salim Alvi
    Oct 27, 2014 - 8:39PM

    Religion and Secularism are meaningless chatter for most. Religion was invented in 4th century by Romans to divide & misrule natives of western Mideast. This Roman concept was perfected in 7th century. Racism, slavery, colonialism and extreme capitalism are its newer forms. Colonial exploitation and hedonistic enjoyment by the imperialists who used religion for creating empires and enslaved natives of distant lands needed to free themselves from the clutches of their religious books & clergy and that is why they invented Secularism. So secularism has the similar exploitative hedonistic imperialistic roots as religions which they supposedly oppose. Secularism is imposed on natives of Asia, Africa, etc as another tool to have natives of these lands remain destabilized and divided. We make a blunder when we identify people by religion and equate religion which started as Armed Legion in service of imperialists with native spirituality. Spirituality of natives all over the world is by design secular and distributed-localized devoid of one book in alien tongue, script and one sacred land, one Khilafa, Pope or Politburo chief.


  • Rakib
    Oct 27, 2014 - 10:02PM

    Even if early leaders of India conceived Secularism, they delivered only a still born. Some Indians believe there are only two options: either one is Secular or one is Religio-Communal. And one man’s communal is another’s secular.IMO, that’s wrong. India being “Secular” is a hoax created by Indira Gandhi. As per her Amendment to Constitution Narendra Modi, who took oath to protect it, the Crony of Capitalists, is heading a Socialist government too! Secular Socialist! Modi?! Faster this charade of Secularism-Socialism that nobody in the world is impressed by is put an end to by Parliament the better it is. India did not appoint a State Religion but that fact in itself did not make the State automatically Secular. IMO, depending on what definition one uses, India was never really Secular nor will it ever be so. Time to see beyond Secularism & such old terminology if one wants to put an end to menace of BJP.


  • sharabi
    Oct 28, 2014 - 10:42AM

    Congress? Is it not the same party who fueled Cast based divisions? The End of Congress is a good indications that India is going on right path & our economy, Inflation data is validating this fact. And Nayyar sahib let me assume you are very upset with this? aren’t you?


  • Parvez
    Oct 28, 2014 - 4:09PM

    @Tyggar and GP65 : Thanks for your views, I did respond…….BUT ?


  • Rakib
    Oct 28, 2014 - 5:09PM

    @Tyggar: Both statements have little to do with Secularism. Congress in particular has said something clearly non-Secular since it’s based on Biblical promise that the meek (poor & powerless) shall inherit the earth. If Congress believes “Minorities have the first right on National resources”, its their perception of ground reality in India where they feel minorities (if I recall right”Muslim” was specified by MM Singh, not his own Sikhs) need extraordinary support. It may be a conclusion based on certain inputs they would have got. It’s their political ideology of correcting imbalances in society but not quite original. It’s an ancient socialistic thought.BJP’s idea on the other hand is stunningly original, all Indians will be equal, it’s a marvel & a wonderful high-way that will take ALL Indians to Shangri-La by 2019.


  • Reddy
    Oct 28, 2014 - 6:05PM

    Every time Congress says they are secular they lose chunk of Hindu votes, because Congress version of secularism has a different meaning. My parents and grand parents were Congress supporters but we don’t even consider them as an option.


  • bahadur khan
    Nov 11, 2014 - 9:21PM

    May i remind the readers.

    bhakra nangal initiated by congress 1958
    Ukai project on Tapi – gujarat/madhya pradesh/maharashtra started by congress 1960
    Rihand project started by congress. 1962
    mundra port stated by congress 1950
    Gandhinagar city built by congress 1963
    Gujarat separate state created by congress 1960
    information technology boom started by congress 1985
    steel plants started by congress 1956
    engineering colleges -your parents and sister studied started by congress 1951 onwards
    interational air connectivity to Ahmedabad , Amritsar, Gauhati, Lucknow, Goa, Mangalore, Bangalore, Indore, nagpur, Trichy, Madurai, kOZHIKODE, Srinagar, all second level cities, started by congress. 1991 onwards
    hydel projects in Uri, baglihar, Jk and Uttrakhand, 2000Recommend

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