From the Editor-in-Chief – Editor’s Notice Information

A contact of stale familiarity attends to each recitation of the Congress story—the identical litany of weaknesses is trotted out, the identical issues are aired, and varied consultants have interaction in the identical obituary writing. A fast scan of the duvet tales India At the moment itself has completed through the years will reveal that the problems stay largely the identical. The phrase “suspended animation” describes the state of the Congress most aptly—and it has been so for lengthy.

And but, every time the disaster appears extra dire, and a way of India’s Grand Outdated Occasion being on a historic, existential cusp prevails. The current second feels particularly dire. The occasion’s electoral desperation is getting starker throughout the panorama. It registered its lowest tallies ever within the final two Lok Sabha elec- tions: 44 in 2014 and 52 in 2019; its nationwide vote share, which registered its 50-year peak at 49.1 per cent in 1984, now swims within the shallows at 19 per cent. The occasion guidelines solely two states solo. It has misplaced 37 of the 50 meeting elections held within the final eight years.

The quick provocation for the present handwringing might have been the fleeting arrival of election strategist Prashant Kishor to the discussions. However every part that’s on the desk now falls within the twin classes of what former US secretary of protection, Donald Rumsfeld, as soon as referred to as ‘identified knowns’ and ‘identified unknowns’. That’s why senior Congress chief Digvijaya Singh is correct when he says Kishor didn’t say something the occasion didn’t already know. Sundry stories and volumes of information exist which have mentioned the very same issues.

For instance, Kishor, in his presentation, informed occasion veterans that for the 2019 common election, the Congress fielded candidates who had misplaced two con- secutive electoral contests earlier in as many as 170 constituencies! A senior chief like P. Chidambaram admits this information should have been out there. “Had we put collectively that information and analysed it,” he says, “we might not have fielded these 170 candidates.” That is symptomatic of the occasion’s somnolent state.

The massive elephant within the room which just a few wish to poke is the perennial query of management. Ought to there be a non-Gandhi on the helm? Ought to the occasion be susceptible to the criticism broadly levelled towards it of getting been was a household monopoly and make manner for some- one exterior the Nehru-Indira-Rajiv lineage? Or ought to it maintain agency and stick with the concept—which might not be completely unfaithful both—that the Gandhi household has enduring worth.

In the meantime, the occasion is caught in a paradox. It has been actually leaderless for just about all of Narendra Modi’s second time period, after Rahul Gandhi recused himself from the president’s publish. However as insiders say, that area is now truly occupied by a fancy troika—Rahul, his mom Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka, all three have a hand in key selections, and infrequently there are refined variations of their strategy. At any charge, in a democratic occasion, the management query can’t be adjudicated by somebody who shall be affected by that call. The one technique to do it and not using a battle of curiosity is to throw it open to a really collective selection—not stage-manage it with the geriatric occasion paperwork and impact a nominal change of guard, with a core loyalist being seated on the throne whereas the facility centre stays the place it’s. A deeper paralysis appears to have an effect on the occasion’s thoughts on one other core query: its very raison d’etre. Why does the Congress exist, what political language should it converse, what nar- rative ought to it current earlier than the Indian voter? A variety of timid wavering has been on show on this entrance lately, because the occasion vacillates between its conventional political secularism and occasional dabbling in ‘gentle Hindutva’. The actual fact is {that a} pure area exists on the Indian panorama for a centrist, secular occasion just like the Congress. In spite of everything, within the 2019 common election, the BJP acquired 37.4 per cent of all votes—and the NDA cumulatively acquired practically 45 per cent. However the stability 55 per cent did go some place else. This reality alone ought to spur the Congress into motion if it critically desires to get again into the electoral calculus.

It ought to be apparent to the management that it should concentrate on areas the place it’s robust and get into tactical partnerships elsewhere in order to current a standard entrance towards its greatest rival, the BJP. But the occasion persistently does the other factor. It occurred in 2021, when the Congress’s inner survey—completed by its personal information analytics folks— concluded it ought to kind an alliance with the ruling TMC in Bengal, for which a suggestion existed on the desk. But it surely went abegging. {That a} revitalisation on the bottom can come about solely by inducting recent blood in a bottom-up organisational democracy once more goes with out saying. If a celebration makes a behavior of not doing any of the issues that widespread sense would dictate, holding a ‘Chintan Shivir’ in Udaipur goes to ship no shivers up the BJP’s backbone.

On the eve of this assembly, Govt Editor Kaushik Deka, who has been masking the Congress for practically a decade, delves into all of the challenges confronting the occasion at a time when it’s poised to face 10 meeting polls within the subsequent two years, earlier than the final election in 2024. Says Deka: “The interdependence of the Gandhis and the Congress on one another for relevance has made it a celebration of standing quoists. The Congress has perfected the artwork of not taking selections, lowering the Grand Outdated Occasion to a rump. It should introduce some radical adjustments in the way in which it features.”

The best benefit they nonetheless have is that they’re the one actually nationwide occasion moreover the BJP, recognisable throughout the nation. No critical opposition to the BJP could be mounted with out the Congress. Dissident Congressman Manish Tewari put it properly. “Each political occasion,” he says, “requires 5 fundamentals: ideology, narrative, organisation, sources and management. All these variables want to come back collectively for electoral efficacy. All 5 are challenges for the Congress as we speak.” Its principal rival, the BJP, has all these in full measure. If the Congress can’t provide you with a plan to beat these challenges after its brainfest in Udaipur, it would most likely forfeit its final probability for a revival. Now or By no means.

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