We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. — Japanese proverb. The Congress presidential election is like that. Seriously, what is the outcome of the Congress presidential election? A spent-force, a time-tested party loyalist, an old-timer with no charisma, no new ideas, not a known face in the vast Hindi-Heartland, a person, who himself says that he is ever-willing to take dictates from the Gandhi family trio— shri Mallikarjun Kharge has become the president of the Congress Party.
In a democracy a ruling party needs a robust opposition. In fact, the BJP also wants it. The BJP can fight, willing and ready to fight, if the main opposition party gives the BJP a tough time. But with the president elect of the Congress, it is all a damp squib. Kharge could not prove himself as a capable debater in the parliament. As an opposition leader, he failed. How can he now prove outside?
As the president of the party, he needs to meet cadres rapidly i.e. in the fast pace, as and when required throughout the country. He needs to be always on toes. But at 80, his age goes against it. The president of the party should be impressive, articulate and prompt in answering questions by the media. He should be able to strategize how to win for the party. Let us think of Kharge’s home state of Karnataka. What was Kharge’s contribution compared to Yeddyurappa?
In an electoral democracy, a political party needs to win elections. In a series of elections, the Congress flopped. The party is out of sight in people’s minds. Like general elections, this party election is also a debacle for the Congress.
The Congress conducted elections out of compulsion: When Rahul Gandhi lost two parliamentary elections (2014 & 2019) back-to-back and gave up the presidency of the party, it became inevitable to conduct an election. Hence, for the Congress party, there is nothing to gloat over to have conducted elections democratically. To replace an unwilling- to -lead – dynast, the commoners need an election.
Apparently, this election is not free and fair. The Kharge’s candidature was backed by the high-command. Many Congress members believed Kharge’s opponent Shashi Tharoor to be an outsider to the party, though he professed himself a loyalist. Tharoor’s occasional honest praise for prime minister Modi, did not go down well with the Congress cadre. The Congress would not allow space to an intellectual to express his opinion. The Congress teases the BJP followers as Bhakts. If they are Bhakts, the Congress followers are servants of Gandhi-Parivar. What they are doing is mental-slavery. Bhakti is better than servitude.
Kharge and Dalit card
This Dalit-card is a tokenism. This was played by the Congress with Charanjit Singh Channi in Punjab. What was the result? Loss of face in the elections. Dalit issue matters, when the policies and strengths of the party are in the right place. There are Dalit leaders in other parties too. As a matter of fact, who will call shots in the Congress-Parivar-Party?
Not the Dalit-president but the defunct Parivar. The Dalit-leader is not groomed as such to have his say. Kharge (admittedly) says Gandhi-Parivar’s wisdom is paramount to him. Now, you could well-imagine the Parivar-trio’s wisdom and how it brought the party to gutters. Look at the strategy of Bharat Jodo and Congress’s president-election simultaneously. These two are divergent and one takes away the attention of the other. No proper planning for this party. How can they plan for the country?
Kharge and Biden comparison
When Kharge’s age is pointed out, the loyalist intellectuals of the Congress say — didn’t Joe Biden not compete in elections and win at seventy-nine? This is an odd-comparison. India has parliamentary elections and the U.S. has presidential elections. Joe Biden worked as Vice-President twice before becoming the president? What was Mallikarjun Kharge? At the most many times M.P. Like him, there are many M. Ps within the Congress and outside.
In parliamentary democracy, the president of a national party needs to be a well-entrenched 24/7 politician. In any case, the BJP tries to make the parliamentary election into a presidential one, as they have the strongest leader at the top i.e. the prime minister to win hearts and votes. Can Kharge face him—is the question. Right now the Congress party and the Congress cadre are satisfied because they are able to maintain the status-quo ante i.e. the Gandhi-Parivar at the helm and an ever-obedient Congress president to carry their command.
If there is any win (not likely in any case) the Parivar could take the credit and if there is loss the president-Kharge could have it. This tamasha will slowly unfold. Let Congressmen do as much servitude to Gandhi-Parivar as they wish to but should not drag the countrymen. Bharat is much bigger than the Congress-party or its loyalists, to join in their sycophancy.