The Congress party’s recent electoral defeats has forced the grand old party to start planning the much-needed change. Because for how long will it be able to survive in the absence of a team that has the strength, the awareness and the foresight to revive the waning glory of the 131-year-old party?
And, that is not the only concern.
Guidance of the veterans and the vision of the youth
While working for the nation’s unity and progress is all too emblematic of the Congress, there is little that the party has done to maintain its own unity and progress. The clashes between the young and old leaders within the party need no mention, but can these insipid, overpoweringly puerile incidences stop the party achieving the goal it has set for itself? They shouldn’t, but they are!
It is time for the party members to understand that just like every product has a shelf-life or sell-by-date, the Congress party has also crossed the various stages of its life-span. From Introduction, Growth, Maturity and now to Decline, it has gone through all. However, the Young India that we have today, isn’t looking for an old product. Just like a product needs to be revived, a brand needs to be reinvented – the Congress party needs rebranding too.
Yes, Rahul Gandhi has the support of experienced leaders. And, yes, they deserve being there, for some of them are a part of the Congress party since Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi’s era. But, is that a reason well enough to abandon the need to have a new, young team on the front, which gives a promising future to the party?
Is looking back at the past and holding it too close to its chest, so important that it hampers the vision of a self-evidently, strong-minded team of aspirational political leaders that the party has?
That said, there are a few old leaders in the party whose chronicles of deed are beyond thin. From being nothing but the deadwood, to maligning the party’s image, there are many members who produce so little of substance for the party with their misdeeds.
Despite constant signals, the party has never worked towards this dimension. It seems like the party members have been staring at the light glinting at the end of what has become a very long tunnel.
All of this hints at a sense of hopelessness and fear. The fear of change.
Why doesn’t the party form its own Margdarshak Mandal and have a team of senior leaders like Motilal Vora, Sheila Dikshit, Digvijay Singh, P Chidambaram, Ambika Soni, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Janardhan Dwivedi and many others? At the age of 88, how someone can be a treasurer of such a big organisation- is what everyone wonders about, Moti Lal Vora, the AICC’s treasurer.
While the party will still need their guidance, for the experience that they have is extensive, and they can become great mentors to the young leaders, but they should have the willingness to step aside to let the young brigade handle the command of the party, at least for once.
After all, what’s wrong with that? Sensing the anti-incumbency that the Congress was facing, BJP did the same a few years ago and changed the face of its party with new leaders. Similarly, it is for the Congress to understand that the contributions made by the veterans to the party will always be there, but it’s time for the generation next to come, and learn from the experiences of the old leaders, who can have advisory roles in the party.
It’s about time the young talent took lead and called the signals!
Let there be light
Today the party’s brand value has raised eyebrows. The once grand old party is now pegging away to catch air. From corruption charges, to scams, scandals and what not – Congress has seen it all. It is this experience of the party only that has built a perception of it being a corrupt entity. Need I say that the only way to change this fate of the party is to change the faces that it has?
It’s important to counter caviler’s claiming that Rahul Gandhi is the reason for all the fiasco that the party has been enduring.
It’s important to understand that this man is full of ideas, but he doesn’t have a motivated, young team of bright minds to realise them. He is not being given full charge to run the party in his own way. His hands aren’t strengthened enough to be able to give the much-needed impetus to the party.
The complete incongruity between the old generation’s and the new generation’s thoughts have rendered him impracticable. And, this needs to change.
Rahul Gandhi is the glue which binds the congress. Rahul Gandhi as a face of the Congress Party needs to be surrounded by a team of people who have the spirit to work and fight and who believe in Congress ‘ideology. The need is to find leaders who can work on the ground, and connect with the people, not AC Room leaders who have no time for addressing common people and listening to their woes.
In order to strengthen the party, it is important to first strengthen Rahul Gandhi by giving him the team he deserves, by giving him the vision and the passion that he needs to work for the party. To evade the ever-prevailing darkness of corruption, baseness and opprobrium that many of the old Congress leaders have given to the party, it is crucial to bring in fresh and clean faces with no history of corruption and ignobility and project them in every state.
In Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot is one such face that can rescue the Congress out of crisis. This spirited leader can help the Congress resurrect in Rajasthan, if only he gets to lead from the front.
A little closer, in Haryana, it is no brainer that the brand Congress under previous regime has been damaged very badly. So, it’s time now to give new faces to the state in the form of leaders. While in Randeep Singh Surjewala, the party has a good speaker and he’s heading the Communications department, there’s Kuldeep Bishnoi, who can help the party regain its diminishing glory and presence in the state.
In Punjab, leaders like Ravneet Bittu can be that ball of fire. He is the man who carries the legacy of his grandfather Beant Singh, who sacrificed his life for Punjab to give it freedom from militancy. Punjab’s people remain indebted to Beant Singh’s contribution in saving the state.
When the Congress is struggling to shun its Anti-Hindu image, another leader who has emerged in Punjab is Vijayinder Singla, the energetic young leader can renew the lost magnificence of Congress amongst Hindus in Punjab. In fact, the faith that Hindu voters have placed in Congress in the recent assembly election, signals the need of including more Hindu faces in Punjab, and Congress must get them.
Then, in Assam, Congress has women leaders like Sushmita Dev who has been garnering attention for all the right reasons. Lately, she came into the limelight for her online petition to make sanitary napkins tax-free, and with the work she is doing,
Taking a look at the Central India, in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress party’s situation is at its worst. But, the party has failed to understand the need to project an energetic leader who can compete with Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Jyotiraditya Scindia, son of the late Madhav Rao Scindia, who was an outstanding figure and was labelled as ‘people’s prince’ should lead the congress in MP.
In Maharashtra, the party has young leaders like Milind Deora and Priya Dutt. Being the inheritor of Sunil Dutt’s legacy – someone who is still known for his social activism – Priya Dutt carries an image which can breathe new life into Congress when the party is struggling to have women faces. It’s time to recognise the power of the talent that the party already has, and push it ahead on the path of success.
But, the picture is not very propitious everywhere. When we look at the south of India, it is a gloomy one for sure. While you have a popular face and a good orator in Khushbu Sundar in Tamil Nadu, her talent is not being fully utilised by the party as yet. Other than representing the party as a spokesperson, she can do a lot more in a state like TN which has a long history of its love for popular film personalities.
There is hardly any other young leader who can bring the hope of strengthening Congress in Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and the situation is a tad bit similar in states like Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.
To note the party’s destiny in Andhra Pradesh is important here. This state used to be the strongest, most loyal belt of Congress in the South, and today, it has a completely changed milieu. After the demise of YSR Reddy, Congress failed to make his son, Jagan Reddy its face in Andhra Pradesh, and he floated his own party. Something that Congress should have avoided at all costs! Simply because the people of undivided Andhra Pradesh have always loved YSR Reddy for the work he did, and his son could have helped in maintaining that love and persevering that same respect for the party.
The crux lies in the need to cultivate more of the young talent that the country has. Those leaders who have been struggling with the charges of corruption and who have brought nothing but inglorious repute to the party should be rooted out. The party needs to get out of the bout of depression and this can only begin with the coming of ingenuity, and this is required pan India.
There is no dearth of good leaders in Congress. The need is to push that talent. Congress veterans need to mentor these young leaders in all the states and nurture them and make them ready in the next five years. In the states where there is no existing young talent, the party needs to look for alternatives in the common people. And, why not? After all, a party is formed by these people, for these people and of these people alone.
Congress needs to be the real option for India
Today, the BJP is adding corrupt leaders from the Congress and other parties and it’s only a matter of time before the BJP will be much the same as UPA-2. Actually, Congress should even express a modicum of gratitude to its opposition for taking such leaders away from the party.
But when such a time will come when the public needs a party that has no connect with corruption, then the only question that remains is – can Congress be that party? It could.
All that it needs is a corruption free, politically charged cadre. It is difficult, but not impossible to build such a cadre.
This cadre, by working with the Margdarshak Mandal of Congress, can do wonders in giving the nation the future that it deserves.
Individually and collectively, they can.
Narendra Modi is a typical example of a leader who has a brilliant cadre working in chorus. Let’s face it – Mr. Modi couldn’t have won the 2014 election solely on his image alone, it was the brain bank that he had which helped him win the vote bank that the BJP did.
So, when the BJP is busy in collecting dead-woods from other parties and mucking up its brain bank, Congress should be proactive and shed the deadwoods to let the new branches grow and flourish – bringing in the dynamism that it needs.
No doubt brand resurrection takes time to materialise — but, the need for a change, the need for an organizational rejig is invincible for Congress, and that it must do before it gets in a bind.
And, when such a change happens, then the old and the young must set aside their differences of opinion and get over their individualistic goals. They, then, need to work for one purpose — to save the nation from divisive forces and the preachers of hatred, and lead it to the long-forgotten path of progress.
(The views expressed here are the author’s own and Janta Ka Reporter doesn’t necessarily endorse them)