If the state election results from the North are indicative of the future of India’s electoral rat-race in any way, Congress doesn’t have much to look forward to in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. While the reasons for Congress’ imminent demise are more than apparent, the actual consequences of those factors in the formation of the public opinion deserve further interpretation. The following is an attempt to give such a perspective to the 9 things Congress did horribly wrong in the past 9 years it has been ruling the land.
1) Quasi-autocratic Gandhi reign: For many decades now, starting from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to his great grandson Rahul Gandhi, Congress has habitually been in the gloves of the Gandhi family. To put it in a humorous way, the Gandhi family is commemorative of the Italian-American crime families (no pun intended) that operated in New York under a thorough hierarchical structure. The message sent out to the public by this sort of a centralized leadership is that the party lacks any form of internal democracy, especially when it comes to crucial decision-making. And this, evidently, is the last notion any political party would want to send across to the public such as the one in India.
2) Lack of accountability: As a nation that is dealing with a wide range of economic issues, Indians expect their governments to be accountable for the money it taxes from its citizens. Congress, in the past years, has been the exact antithesis of accountable. The degree of corruption that has pervaded the governance mechanism itself blows any scope of credibility that Congress had hoped to garner by the end of its term. As citizens of a country looted by its politicians, Indians feel violated. And, naturally, they feel entitled to a change of political landscape.
3) Change-blindness: There was a time when the Indian political scenario was a monopoly of the Indian National Congress. This was the time when the vote bank comprised of people who remembered Congress’ past, particularly the struggles and sacrifices of its leaders during and immediately after the independence. But, in 2014, the election results will constitute the voice of a newer, urbanized generation that is well-informed by media and sensitized by higher-education. The Indian National Congress doesn’t seem to have come to terms with the fact that the modern voter cares more about change and development that can be a possible outcome of governance as opposed to the politics that revolve around caste and religious sentiments.
4) Law and Order: The attacks on women and various other law and order issues reported from different parts of the country have put the party on the defensive. The Delhi gang rape, particularly, triggered the public’s general distrust in the UPA government’s ability to protect its citizens, and threw aÂ large question-mark at the law-enforcement bodies across the country – specially when the protesters were the ones being attacked by police.
5) National Security: The BJP and other opposition parties have repeatedly accused the Congress of not maintaining an aggressive stance towards extremist tendencies, blaming it on the party’s vote-bank politics. The insecurity bred in the collective consciousness of the society as the chilling accounts of terrorist strikes fill the newspaper columns is decidedly overwhelming.
6) Absence of a strong leader: As the social and popular media prostrate before Narendra Modi for his achievements, real or imagined, Congress simply doesn’t have a candidate of Modi’s stature, in terms of achievement, charisma or ability to inspire crowds. The cold reception congress receives in its party rallies itself is indicative of how they are in dire need of a likeable face. Public has always longed for a Prime Minister with the defined set of skills that come under the categorization of “leadership qualities”. And whatever Modi has done, as far as Congress is concerned, is bit of a hard act to follow.
7) Inflation: Inflation is probably what single-handedly gave strength to the national antagonism towards Congress that made headway among the general Indian public, which was previously a sentiment confined to specific interest groups. Unlike the other factors in question, each voter has directly and severely been affected by the soaring prices, let it be food or fuel. There is a unity in the sense of betrayal, which has cut through barriers and can fuel a larger paradigm-shift.
8) Social media: Congress seemed to have glossed over the impact social media has in the formation of public opinion. While Modi has invested thoughtfully in a competent PR machinery, Congress betted on its long legacy to perform miracles, which is about to cost them dear. Congress’ recent move to form a ‘cyber army’, when their parade is already rained upon, is more or less a poorly conceived afterthought.
9) Pre-election gimmicks: Congress, realizing that it’s better late than never, has come up with a few damage control measures that are flawed on multifarious counts. The Food Security Bill, for instance, is not only poorly timed, but also ignores the ground reality that the Public Distribution System in our country is just not functional enough to deliver what the bill promises. The collateral damage inflicted by these gimmicks is irreparable, to say the least. In the swing of things, Congress, along with the Gandhi dynasty and its prince charming, has come to collectively form the laughing stock of the country.
Going by the buzz on social-network sites and such, Modi is to mop the floor with Congress in the spectacle we are about to witness the coming year. If the prophets are to be right, the Congress should know where they have gone wrong.