Rahul has every right to remain steadfast in his values and his idea of India.
In politics, sometimes perception matters more than reality. The public perception prior to the 2014 parliamentary elections was that the last phase of the UPA 2 government had been marked by “policy paralysis”. Post the humiliating defeat in 2019 elections five years hence, how is the 133-year-old Indian National Congress (INC) perceived by the public?
Bereft of leadership? Still in the grips of an ostrich syndrome? Betraying a death wish? A rudderless ship whose passengers don’t know where it is going? Can such a party perform the role of the principal Opposition in the Parliament and keep the government on its toes?
By officially announcing his resignation with a four-page emotional farewell letter with no successor in sight, Rahul Gandhi has plunged the party into a deeper crisis. So is the party over for the Congress Party?
Well, not really.
So many times, premature obituaries of political parties have haunted their authors. Ironically, the unbelievable rise of the BJP is the most obvious reminder of this fact.
While some of the broader issues which Rahul has raised and the devilish picture of the RSS and the BJP he paints might have some resonance with the so-called liberal sections of society, his perceptions aren’t shared by a vast majority of voters. Or else, how could Narendra Modi have been returned to the Parliament with such a huge majority? As former Congress minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s government Arif Mohammad Khan points out: How can one question the intelligence of over 37.4 per cent of the electorate who voted for Mr Modi?
Rahul has every right to remain steadfast in his values and his idea of India. But if he wants the people of India to embrace his ideals, he will have to convince the masses that they are the right ones for this country. At every election rally, he did share his vision but his message fell flat in the court of the people. So, was the message wrong or the messenger?
The three greats of tennis, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who have won a staggering 53 Grand Slam titles among themselves, have dropped below world no. 10 rank more than once in their careers on account of injuries but have always clawed back to the top, thanks to their self-belief, hard work, sharp strategy and hunger to win. It’s time the Congress draw inspiration. But to rise from the ashes as it were, the party must do the following.
The INC has to beg, borrow or create a Modi of its own. The Prime Minister’s speech in Parliament on the vote of thanks is an example of what a huge difference a single person can make. The party should make use of the oratorical skills of leaders like Shashi Tharoor and Jyotiraditya Scindia to challenge government policies and decisions. Where are the Smriti Iranis, Nirmala Sitharamans and Kirron Khers of the Congress? Its use of social media is still very modest. Winning the perception war on a war footing is a must for the Congress.
Finally, there is no alternative for the Congress leaders and the cadre to working at the grassroots level and winning back the public’s trust and respect by flagging problems, addressing them and helping in their resolution.