B S Raghavan

Time to reinvent Congress political strategy

B.S.RAGHAVAN | Updated on September 20, 2012

So, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee has made good her threat to pull out of the UPA and call back the party-nominated Ministers!

The Congress spokespersons are no doubt keeping up the appearance of civility as if they might still want to have her party back in the Alliance and the Government, but they might as well save their breath on this account.

It is the presence in the Alliance of self-centred and self-serving partners, who are also a constant thorn on the flesh, that is largely at the root of paralysis and rottenness of the Government as a whole. Nowhere was this more painfully evident than in the case of the TMC.

That party, in general, and its chief, in particular, had allowed their spectacular feat of overthrowing the Left Front which had been in power in West Bengal for over three decades to go to their heads, and begun dictating terms to the Government at the Centre and stymieing all its major policy initiatives.

Hence, the TMC’s exit from the UPA need not be taken as a big loss. Nor is it likely to result in a fall of the Government.

The most likely scenario is that the UPA Government may manage to muddle along till the end of its term with the tacit or open support of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

They will be glad to step into the breach in order to milk the UPA to further their own interests to the utmost.


This should not lull the UPA to a misplaced sense of security or complacency. Indeed, it will be extremely unwise on the part of the Congress, as the principal constituent of the UPA, to strike any kind of deal with any of these parties.

For one thing, it will not do even as a tactic to buy time, for the Congress will soon be outmanoeuvred by the leaders of these parties who are well-known for their machinations to feather their nests. For another, it will once again find itself pushed around and letting the politics of blackmail take over.

The Congress should convert the Mamata pull-out into a golden opportunity to radically recast its political strategy with a view to reasserting its role and stature as the grand old party of India.

After all, whatever its faults, it is the party of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and other titans who, at great sacrifice, carried the heroic freedom struggle to its triumphant conclusion. It is also the party which kept the country united and saw it through the travails and tribulations of the early years of Independence.

It should reinvigorate itself with the will and courage of yore, and stand up to the bullying of parties which are mostly made up of its own splinters and offshoots over a period of time. If this makes a mid-term poll inevitable, so be it.

In my opinion, such a contingency is unlikely. However keen parties opposed to the UPA may be to capitalise on the abysmally low depths to which its credibility has sunk, their chest-thumping about being prepared for a general election at any time it is called has an air of unreality about it.

I have my own doubts whether they have factored a general election at this time into their political calculations.

By firmly sticking to its guns, the Congress can re-emerge as the dominant party once again and capture power on its own steam, without having to depend on ragtag combines which have brought ill-repute to the nation and its people.

There is every reason to believe that people are fed up with coalitions, and there is no need for the Congress to plan its strategy on the basis that coalitions have come to stay.

What sent the Left Front coalition packing in West Bengal was the perseverance and guts shown by Mamata Banerjee. When, in 2008, the Congress boldly took on the Left over the nuclear deal, and asked it to go to Hell, its tally shot up to 206 in the 2009 election from 145 in 2004, with the Left crashing to a meagre 24 against 61 in 2004. Why not to absolute majority with a little more spirit and push?

Published on September 20, 2012

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