The complete rout of the Congress in the recent elections has, predictably, begun the search for new scapegoats and fall-guys to take on the responsibility while shielding the Gandhis from any fallout of the debacle. There are numerous cries for introspection and assessment of the ground reality coming from the foot-soldiers, and even Mrs. Sonia Gandhi said the same things to TV cameras. But, you can bet your last paisa that no searchlights will be turned inwards and a huge tamasha will be mounted by the sycophants, reminiscent of what they put up in 2004 when the lady announced that she would not be sitting on the throne that was hers for the taking, and instead would be putting Manmohan Singh in her place.
Manmohan Singh and the case of the Khadaun (Sandals)
The theater, resembling the Ramlilas the citizens of Delhi are used to seeing in their mohallas, looked like a scene from The Ramayana when Bharat refused to rule in the absence of his older brother, and instead put his wooden khadaun (sandals) on the throne of Ayodhya. Manmohan Singh duly fulfilled the role of the khadaun, sitting mute and motionless, letting the Gandhis and their totally unconstitutional National Advisory Council run the affairs of the state. Although there were many demands from the chamchas to replace the khadaun with the real thing, both the Gandhis and Manmohan Singh were happy to continue in their respective roles and were waiting for the prescribed fourteen years of vanavas to end. By then, it was assumed, the junior Gandhi would have attained maturity and the khadaun his superannuation. However, the arithmetic thrown up by the results on 8th December have chucked all such calculations out of the window. It has now become quite obvious that the khadaun will not be able to emulate the story of The Ramayana, and will be removed from the throne after sitting on it for just ten years.
Congress = the Gandhis
The Congress, after 1969, has become the personal property of the Gandhis, and paraphrasing its former President’s slogan that “Sonia is Congress and Congress is Sonia” should explain the present state of the party. Any introspection that has to take place within the Congress has to begin with the acceptance that the Gandhis are its only assets and its only liabilities. The menials who fill in the corridors make no difference to the balance sheet. Frank Moraes, writing after the passing of Nehru, had said that when a great rock is dislodged, worms come to light. However catchy the phrase may have sounded, Moraes was not wholly right in his analogy. Lal Bahadur Shastri, Morarji Desai, Jagjivan Ram and a number of other Congress leaders were great big rocks themselves. But Indira Gandhi set about rectifying this criticism of Moraes and her daughter-in-law has completed the task in “full measure.” There is no hope for a revival of the party’s electoral fortunes so long as the Gandhis rule it from the top. The Gandhis now are truly that great rock. However unpalatable it may sound today, there is no escaping this fact.
The move to propose Nilekani to lead the party in 2014 is a repetition of the same strategy that was adopted in 2004. Manmohan Singh had already been used by Narasimha Rao to lend some credibility to his cabinet, before Sonia Gandhi thought of elevating him to the PM’s post. A typical bureaucrat, Manmohan Singh has the spine of an eel; it can bend whichever way one wants it to. Having hoodwinked the people once, the Gandhis are hoping that they will succeed once again by making Nandan Nilekani the fall guy. But, Nandan Nilekani is not a former bureaucrat, and it may be difficult to convince him to hold the can for them.
And how does one understand Rahul Gandhi’s sudden admiration for the Aam Aadmi Party? What lessons is he deriving from their success? Will he be able to repeat what Arvind Kejriwal has done? In an earlier article “The Kleptomaniac Indians” I had written that “being born mummified, his failure to adapt is a result of the huge superstructure of wealth, tradition, family, that he has to carry.” It would be impossible for him to reinvent himself and this very superstructure will eventually drag him down.
The End of the Road for the Congress
The Congress as a political force is exhausted and is nearing the end of its history. The Gandhis, emulating the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, will be forced by the rootless foot-soldiers to lead them one more time, in 2014, and thereafter will fade into political oblivion. The last Mughal was that only in name; the glorious days of Babur, Akbar, Jahangir, Shahjahan, and even Aurangzeb had become chapters in history books. The writ of the last Emperor did not go beyond the walls of the Red Fort in Delhi. Today, ironically, the writ of 24, Akbar Road does not even reach the walls of that precinct. The grand old party has come to the same end as the great Mughal Empire.
Mani Shankar Aiyar, that acerbic and choleric humbug, hit the nail on the head when he said that “24 Akbar Road was the biggest mortuary.” In the true style of the supercilious sycophant, he was only trying to suck up to Rahul by saying that by revamping student and youth wings, and integrating Panchayati Raj representatives in the party system, he had made the “mortuary” active. Momentarily, he seems to have forgotten that the Congress Headquarters are the domain of the Congress President, who happens to be none other than Sonia Gandhi. The realization that the party has become a “mortuary” has dawned upon the minds of these denizens under the rock, but they are physically and mentally incapable of surviving except in the shadow of that rock. The light of the sun is too blinding for them and they are happy crawling into the darkest corners from where they can feed upon the decaying body of the earth.
Whoever leads the Congress in 2014, the writing is on the wall. The party cannot be resuscitated unless the First Family is shown the door and the reins passed on to a genuine, grassroots leadership. The revolt by the six MP’s from Andhra may be the first straw in the wind. But it can become a whirlwind only if more of the ordinary party workers rise up in revolt. The mountain of money that the party and its leadership have accumulated will surely not be available, but as the AAP experiment has demonstrated, you do not need enormous amounts of money to win elections. When the object of winning elections becomes the welfare of the people and not self-perpetuation, the task becomes easier. Also, if you allow democracy within your party and encourage multiple leaders to emerge, its survival and growth become assured.
This is what the BJP has done, and is today in a unique position to reap the benefits. Parties like the SP, BSP, DMK, AIADMK, BJD, SAD, JMM, and Shiv Sena, to name a few of those that, in the past, have significantly affected political fortunes at the centre, have not incorporated this lesson in their style of functioning. Their vote share may not get significantly reduced in the 2014 elections, but it is certain that by 2019 they would either have splintered into many factions or disappeared altogether. The space vacated by them would, inevitably, be occupied largely by the BJP and the AAP. Personally, I do not think that would be a bad choice for the country.
By Vijaya Dar
Image Source: Aam Aadmi Party@Facebook