If the Congress indeed ends up with under 50 seats, that’ll be a colossal drop of 150 seats. As unbelievable as it may sound, the fact is, things may get progressively worse from thereon. 2014 may throw up another shocker: the breaking up of the Grand Old Party of India and a possible mutiny against the Gandhi dynasty.
Yes, things look bleak, dismal and abysmal for the diehard congressman. Perhaps the old fox Mani Shankar Aiyer has already had a foretaste of doom, which is why he’s now publicly urging his leadership to prepare the organisation for warming the opposition benches.
The calamitous drop in popularity is a culmination of the many missteps undertaken by President Sonia Gandhi. Her decision to play the remote that controls our toy prime minister is NOT her only Himalayan blunder.
Handpicking servile mediocre talent to occupy some of the highest offices has hurt INC even more. Just look at the line-up of General Secretaries reporting to her: Ajay Maken, Ambika Soni, Hari Prasad, CP Joshi, Digvijay Singh, Gurudas Kamat, Janardan Dwivedi, Luizinho Faleiro, Madhusudhan Mistry, Mohan Prakash, Mukul Wasnik, and Shakeel Ahmed. Except for a name or two, everyone on the list is either a palace courtier or a stateless politician. With a mock worthy phalanx like this, one shouldn’t be surprised if General Rahul Gandhi loses many more electoral battles.
The other big boo-boo was the anointment of Rahul G as the sole vice president. How on earth does an organisation with 15 million members run with one vice president? Even the BJP has 13 Veeps to share the tasks!
Clearly, Soniaji is artless when it comes to running an organisation. A more charitable way of looking at it is, she just wanted to ensure zero competition for the princeling from the likes of Jairam Ramesh, Jyotiraditya and Sachin Pilot.
The 4-1 drubbing in the recent polls should normally have drawn attention to the glaring imbalance in the top management in Congress. Instead the problem has been wrongly diagnosed as the sore need to replace the Old Guard with Young Turks. With such doctors, no wonder, the party is gasping for breath in the ICU.
The overt projection of a naïve understudy as the future Prime Minister is another case in point to demonstrate Sonia’s inability to gauge ability. Critics might argue that her son is no rookie in politics. Rahul has been around since 2004 and over the last decade, he’s led elections, addressed innumerable rallies and visited the most distant corners of the country.
While it is true that Sonia’s ladla has done his fair share of barnstorming, the bitter reality is that the Congress is in tatters. Even with all the spinmeisters, speech writers, think tanks and flatterers at his disposal, Rahul has just been unable to deliver the goods in UP, Bihar, Gujarat, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Delhi. Every time there’s a failure, he asks for more powers to transform the Congress. And Sonia blindly hands him the keys.
Errors of judgement and lack of organisation skills can still be forgiven but not political cluelessness. The botching up of the Telengana problem amply illustrates Sonia’s woeful lack of depth in solving tricky issues. As Chief Minister Kiran Reddy pointed out the other day, Andhra Pradesh has been the one state that has repeatedly backed the Congress. UPA formed the government in 2004 largely due to the 29 seats contributed by AP. Even UPA 2 is around because of the 31 seats from Andhra. So why would anyone do anything to upset the apple cart?
Look at how the lady fumbled. She first got P Chidambaram to announce the formation of Telengana to checkmate YSR’s son Jagan. The announcement predictably emboldened the TRS and enraged Seemandhra. The state was in the throes of agitation for months. Not once, did Madam visit Hyderabad. She sat in Delhi hoping things will cool off. It didn’t. Seeing the growing clamour for Telengana, she instructed her government to back the demand for creation of the state, all under the assumption of reaping the electoral harvest.
Sadly for her, TRS walked away with all the glories. And the Congress party was painted as the enemy of Seemandhra. To cut the losses, Congress tried sneaking in a few more districts into Telengana but the move had to be dropped as it made Sonia unpopular in Telengana.
Net result: Kiran Reddy is furious with her. Six Congress MPs have issued the threat of a no-confidence motion against the UPA government. And a party that won 31 seats in 2009 might end up with nothing at all in 2014.
In all fairness, 10 Janpath needs to get all the flak for the sudden emergence of Arvind Kejriwal. At various stages, Sonia and her team had the opportunity to prevent the Jan Lok Pal agitation from ballooning into a huge movement. But precious little was done. After issuing a letter promising to legislate the Jan Lok Pal Bill, Sonia and her government reneged on her undertaking to Team Anna by introducing a diluted Lok Pal bill in Parliament, much to the glee of the political class. With some deft manoeuvring, the Lok Pal bill was given a spectacular burial. The Aam Aadmi Party was born as a reaction to this betrayal.
One of the lead issues of the 2014 national elections is going to be corruption. The Congress party is ill suited to take on the opposition strongly on the subject because of the perceived culpability of the first family in several scams.
When the party president’s son-in-law gets tangled up in a web of suspicion, it punctures the credibility of Congress. And that’s precisely the legacy of Sonia Gandhi.
Stuck with an incapable party chief and an uncharismatic prime ministerial candidate, led by armchair politicians with no roots, backed by a bumbling government, and shorn of the last fig leaf of trust, the Congress party today resembles a sinking ship that’s about to smash into a mighty iceberg. Pity, no one except the voter sees the ‘Titanic moment’ coming.