From the Viewsroom

The real crisis in the Congress

A Srinivas | Updated on January 20, 2018


It has no distinct, alternative economic agenda to offer

The Congress has by all accounts fared poorly in the recently concluded Assembly elections. The family, politely called “leadership”, has once again come under question, as on numerous occasions after May 2014. The BJP, as has become evident now, is on a particularly strong wicket when the principal adversary is the Grand Old Party. The subtext of major electoral clashes since 2014 remains unchanged — a visibly tired aristocracy, with the shehzade not measuring up, is being pulped by a purposeful, neo-nationalist force.

The Congress is losing badly because it stands for virtually nothing. It has no alternative economic agenda to offer. Its sole identity as a default-option, secular party is not enough to win it elections. So, in Karnataka, we have a State government that is neither interested in urban renewal — with Bengaluru in the grip of water, real estate and auto lobbies — nor in rural uplift. An appalling drought, leading to mass migration in north Karnataka, is barely acknowledged as a crisis. This is despite the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha hailing from this region. Instead of organising political protests in Karnataka and BJP-ruled Maharashtra for release of funds to implement MGNREGA on a war-footing, Rahul Gandhi and other leaders were either busy working out ill-advised poll alliances in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, or being distracted into a fatuous debate on the helicopter scam. The party lacks the conviction to push its own scheme — which helped it win the 2009 general elections — on the ground.

The party is yet to settle the ideological rift between the Manmohan Singh camp of ‘reformers’ on the one hand and NAC-driven welfarists on the other. The first course would make it seem like a shadow support group of the Centre on economic policy. Its political prospects can improve if it stands for the second. This is what the leadership issue in the party is all about — it goes beyond just personalities.

Senior Deputy Editor

Published on May 25, 2016

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