Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ufff..... Rahul Gandhi hype again.....

The Congress party, according to media reports, is now in election mode. And the indicator to this is Rahul Gandhi’s appointment as one of the AICC general secretaries and by extension his membership to the Congress Working Committee (CWC). Now, if anyone thought that Rahul Gandhi was just an ordinary member of the party all these days, it was incorrect.

Rahul Gandhi, perhaps, was the most important member of the Congress party ever since he decided to dabble with its affairs. And that happened a few days before he filed his nomination papers from Amethi Lok Sabha constituency as the party’s candidate for the May 2004 general elections. The event was treated with such importance by the media at that time. And it did not concern to anyone when the results to the general elections were announced.

Well. The Congress party won as many as 10 Lok Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh in May 2004. And that was an achievement. But then, it is also a fact that the party lost Sultanpur, Pratapgarh and all the three Lok Sabha constituencies around Allahabad. This is important because these are constituencies around Amethi and even while the party won Amethi (thanks to Rahul Gandhi being the candidate from there), it lost in constituencies around. In other words, Rahul Gandhi could win his own seat but could not influence the voters elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh.

The next instance when the Rahul-bubble burst was the elections to the Uttar Pradesh assembly. The prince led the campaign from the front and ensured that the party won one seat less than what it did in the 2002 elections. It may be argued that the Congress party would have won lesser number of seats without Rahul Gandhi campaigning. This, however, will not justify the hype being built around his appointment now as AICC general secretary.

The Congress party is in a course of decline and this course cannot be altered in any way. For, the causes for the decline are many and will have to be understood in their historical context. One of them is that the precarious balance of social groups that helped the Congress emerge as the natural choice of the people across the nation has now collapsed beyond repair. The Upper Caste-Scheduled-Caste-Muslim combination that was forged in the immediate wake of independence is now in a shambles.

The new social alliance behind the BSP in Uttar Pradesh marks the culmination of this process of the Congress party’s decline. The process began in the Sixties, concretized in the Eighties and matured into a new political alignment in the nineties. The Congress party’s decline was pronounced in the same period in West Bengal, Bihar and Tamil Nadu. And in the process, the party organization too withered away.

It is in this context that the celebration and the hype over Rahul Gandhi’s appointment as AICC general secretary will have to be seen. And the conclusion then cannot but be that it is hardly of any significance to the party’s prospects. In any case, we now have the benefit of hindsight: Rajiv Gandhi too was first made Congress MP and then a general secretary of the party. And as he led the Congress(I), the party lost power in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. That was in 1983. And the party did not meet with the same fate in the December 1984 elections only because the polls were held in the tragic aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

That the Congress(I) had lost its popular support was evident in 1989 when a non-Congress(I) coalition captured power at the centre. The downward slide has only persisted ever since that and that course cannot be stalled. It is a different matter that the party may return to power, heading another coalition. This, in any case, can be managed without a Rahul Gandhi.


Anonymous KALPIT MANKIKAR said...

I don't think the Congress realises that it not 1984!
The times have changed. Independence is what this generation has learnt from textbooks. Emergency is a distant nightmare. India has passed on to different Indians. Rahul should realise that Amethi is not India and India is not Amethi.

1:58 AM  

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