By Vijay Darda | 03-06-2019
Where is the Congress organisation of Nehru and Patel’s era when the dedicated workers prevailed
There is no doubt that Congress president Rahul Gandhi worked very hard day and night during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But what has been the outcome? Why did the Congress lose so badly? Is it any small matter that Rahul Gandhi lost election from Amethi? It is an understatement to call it a Modi wave. Actually it was a tsunami. Just as you can not detect tsunami till the last moment, similarly none could detect Modi tsunami before it struck! One of the reasons for this defeat can be the Modi tsunami, but isn’t such an abysmal debacle the party organisation’s failure too?
I have been watching the Congress from close quarters ever since I began to understand rationally. Later I spent 18 years in parliamentary politics. I know that era very well when Congress was in every village. If the Congress president of the district said something, everybody would listen to him. If he said someone should not be given a ticket, no ticket would be given to that person. The then Congress was a well organised party with the Seva Dal, Mahila Congress, Youth Congress and NSUI constituting important units of the organisation. The party had a galaxy of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, B P Sitaramayya, Veer Waman Dada Joshi, Tukdoji Maharaj, Morarji Desai who used to lead from the front. Sarojini Naidu, Kamala Nehru, Aruna Asaf Ali and Indira Gandhi were very active in Mahila Congress. During elections, people would themselves do poll campaigning using their own vehicles and spending from their own pockets. The Congress used to have dedicated workers.
Until 1966, the worker was a significant cog in the wheels of the organisation. But after that, contractors came in droves who replaced the dedicated party workers. The contractors started to mobilise the crowd for public meetings and between 1985 and 1990, the culture of moneybags set in. Congress kept on changing. Earlier, every major leader on visit to a city would first visit Congress office because they used to look upon Congress office as a temple. Slowly everything started changing. Mammon worship became the new norm! Congress contracted a disease! This disease became incurable with the passage of time. Of course, Indiraji, Rajivji, Soniaji and Rahulji tried to set the organisation in order but in due course of time, an army of such politicians gathered under its umbrella whose first priority was not the party, but enjoying power and pelf.
If we talk about the 10 years of UPA rule, the first five years passed well but the subsequent five years were tumultuous. Rahul Gandhi was not ready to become the prime minister. Some people indulged in groupism in his name and ran amok in the party. These caucuses tried to settle their old scores in such a manner that the Congress became hollow from inside. These people had nothing to do with the party. People like Ahmed Patel and Ghulam Nabi Azad, who were the pillars of the party and always thought of party first and foremost, were sidelined. The organisation was dominated by people who were engrossed in entertainment rather than organisational matters and as a result, the party organisation became weaker and weaker. Such an atmosphere was created that Manmohan Singh was getting sandwiched and his writ no longer ran and his office became emasculated. Allegations of one scam after another started coming to the fore and issues like Commonwealth Games, 2G, coal and Adarsh Housing Society and cases related to Bansal of the railways, Ashwini Kumar came out in the open. Congress got many of its ministers and several chief ministers to resign. Congress tarnished its own image. Such an atmosphere was created that Congress government came to be known as inefficient and corrupt. The unemployed youths were upset and angry and the farmers were suffering. Around this time, Narendra Modi came into limelight. Modiji assured the masses of good governance.
People believed and gave him an overwhelming mandate. The UPA which sat in the opposition wherein Congress was also included, could not even play a meaningful role. While sitting through the parliamentary sessions, I felt that the ruling party had exposed its weaknesses on many occasions. The real character and face of the ruling party and alliance could have been ripped off but the opposition just did not care, involved as it was in internecine wars and settling scores with their own people.
Now look at 2019. All was not well in the first tenure of Modiji. The promises were not fulfilled. Many opportunities were presented to the UPA constituents and Congress but they failed to capitalise on them. I admire Rahulji that he worked very hard, but did the other prominent leaders of the organisation move in tandem with him? There was a lot of nepotism in the ticket distribution. At the same time, Congress could not understand that Modi has come with a trump card of nationalism. The Congress lost direction right from West Bengal, UP, Bihar, Rajasthan to Maharashtra. Despite the present setback, I don’t believe that the Congress will peter out. Congress is a great ideology and soul. The soul and ideology don’t perish. Maybe, the time at present is not favouring it.
Contrary to the Congress, BJP continued to strengthen itself at the organisational level. The RSS which is BJP’s parent organisation set up outfits of farmers, youths and intellectuals at home and abroad. Atalji had predicted that his party will rise from 2 to 300. The duo of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah brought that prediction to reality. Modiji is known all over the world. He is ably assisted by strategist like Amit Shah whose organisational capacity is unique. Congress will have to mull over how it is going to face them, how it will regain the lost ground.
And yes, I want to congratulate Modiji for ministerial empowerment of women. During his first tenure, he had allocated important portfolios such as defence and external affairs to women and now an important department like finance has been entrusted to a woman.
This may sound bitter but it is true that the Congress has become obsolete at the level of the organisation. Dedicated workers and competent leaders have distanced themselves from the organisation because nobody cares for them. There are caucuses of politicians who promote the factionalism and who do not mind settling scores with each other at the cost of the party.