Sunday, October 26, 2014

Indian National Congress Party

As PM Modi's 'Congress Mukt Bharat' (India free from Congress); gathers momentum, a quiet revolution seems to be taking within India. It is the gradual and so far certain demise of India's Grand Old Party - Congress. 

Normal run down in electoral fortunes of a political party prompts resignations of leadership, perceptible turns in policy postures and ascension of new leadership. None of that is happening and very unlikely to happen in case of Indian National Congress Party. So far as the question of leadership goes, clearly neither Sonia / Rahul Gandhi want to relinquish the hold nor rank party members are sure whether they will stick together if there is no Nehru-Gandhi person at the helm. 

By and large there are two reasons for Congress Party to exist - one to enjoy spoils of being in power (corruption) and the other reason of having a secular regime which does not try to ignite the specter of religion based sectarian conflicts. As possibilities of gaining any power back at Central or important State level start receding, rank and file party members will start exploring corruption avenues with other parties. Possibly over years, in general most body politics of India will go away from direct corruption and as a result 'entering politics' with the aim of 'making money' might not remain a viable business model. Definitely Narendra Modi's persona, his policies as well as rise of anti-corruption parties like Aam Adami Party; all point in that direction.

Narendra Modi ruled Gujrath for over a decade without any religion based riots after infamous Godhara. As he fashions a soft cultural Hindu Nationalism without hard edges of violence and without abuses of human rights, crying need of Secular Political Options decreases. It is not only Congress which has suffered due to diminishing need of asserting Secularism, decline of Left Parties also confirms that. Primary selling point of these Left parties had been Secularism. Indian Public tolerated administrative incompetence, myopic socialistic policies and corruption of Congress and Left; all for reasons of literally getting saved from religious bigots. As Modi brand of Politics reduces religion based bigoted politics, Indian voters are getting viable choices and the fertile ground for 'Congress Mukt Bharat' is prepared.[1]

Victory of MIM in Maharashtra Assembly shows that Muslim voters in India no longer have to hitch their wagon to the secularism of Congress. Established alternatives like Samajwadi Party and upcoming choices like MIM (who are vitriolic but with shades of authentic nationalism) are very much reducing need to depend on Congress.

Given all this, survival of Congress Party comes down to Sonia and Rahul Gandi. In my lifetime, I remember Congress was 'written off' 3 times but it came back - first when Indira Gandhi was kicked out after Emergency in 1977 and then she romped back in 1980. Subsequently Rajiv Gadhi lost power, then was killed and India came on the brink of bankruptcy due to Mandal Masjid Mayehm; again Congress came back. More recently after the NDA rule, Sonia and Dr. Manmohan Singh again brought Congress back to the power. Increasing tendency of Indian voters to deliver 'decisive mandate' is at play also. Knowing this history, it is understandable that no Congressman is going to come forward and rebel against Nehru-Gandhi Family. That is not how Congress works and it is a recipe of disasters for individual political ambitions of a Congressman given the internal power dynamics. In other words, more are electoral losses for Congress party; more loyal coterie encircles the leadership of Nehru-Gandhi Family.

So then are we talking here Titanic going all the way to the bottom? Once upon time there was a party called Hindu Mahasabha. Jan Sangh and subsequent mutant BJP came out it and Hindu Mahasabha essentially died. Are we looking at some such possibilities with Congress? This is because Rahul Gandhi is simply not showing any leadership here, Sonia Gandhi is more interested in protecting him and none of them have any willingness to hand over party reigns to many other capable leaders (P. Chidambaram, AK Antony, etc.).On Policy front, Congress is simply not getting the message that its brand of Government led Development is not working nor it is realizing how much hunger is there in India for administrative competence as well as corruption free State. Besides, Congress may be too late to turn to anti-corruption politics as there is AAP already claiming that mantle. However, Congress will have to submit for corruption free politics as a necessity. One is not sure whether Rahul Gandhi gets all this. In absence of that, we are looking at a real possibility of demise of Indian National Congress because in the end Gandhi-Nehru Family decides to let it die. 

What is heartening is, not just because of Narendra Modi; but in general today's Indian body Politics is for sure strong enough to withstand the demise of Indian National Congress Party.

[1] One of the weakest links of PM Modi's promise of reform has been the division of Center-State power in contemporary India. For all the talk of reforming India, Indian constitution awards primacy to State when it comes to land holding, water management, education, policing population, legal system and energy distribution (not literally but because how the system evolved). What that means is unless and until Modi Government in Center finds friendly State Governments, his agenda of true reform and economic growth would not go anywhere. PM Modi needs Narendra Modi in State Houses and hence his  national success necessitates Congress Mukta Bharat.

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