The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) historic victory under the leadership of Narendra Modi in the 16th Lok Sabha elections is going to leave a profound impact on the national political arena. The recently concluded Lok Sabha poll has not only shattered a number of set-trends but also posed some serious questions before the Congress, which was in power at the Centre for a decade, regarding its future. The way the nation’s oldest political party has been rejected by the electorate is indeed shocking. Though the party is talking about introspection to look into the possible reasons of its debacle, its style of functioning does not give out such a message that it’s indeed serious and its glimpse could be seen in its working committee meeting, which took place just a few days back. Taking moral responsibility of the party’s drubbing in the recently concluded 16th Lok Sabha elections, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi offered to resign but the entire party rejected their proposals. Everything has happened in an orchestrated manner. By passing one proposal, the working committee also spoke of taking a collective responsibility. The Congress has, in fact, become habituated to such ways. The party was functioning in a democratic and transparent manner for around two decades after Independence but when it got bifurcated in 1969 under the stewardship of Indira Gandhi over issues related to tiffs and miffs and monopoly, a new breed of politics evolved.  
The Congress went on to become property of Gandhi family. Leaving aside a brief period, the situation has not changed till now. The Congress leaders’ coterie is responsible for sinking party’s ship in general elections where its tally reduced to meager 44. Even its vote share dwindled by nine percent to reach 19 percent. Today, if Congress has become more like a regional party then the prime reason behind this is the flourish of dynastic politics. The Gandhi family has always ensured that no satrap can thrive in the regional horizon. The party also had to face a massive loss mainly as it does not have a strong regional leader to reckon with as well. Besides, the way Rahul was given the charge to lead the party after Sonia, set the pitch further for party’s disastrous results. His advisors lacked political acumen. Rahul saw the social and political challenges of the country through the prism of his advisors.    

The Congress leaders know this very well that Rahul has quite a role behind the party’s trouncing but no one is willing to speak anything against him beyond a certain limit. Even Rahul himself is not throwing any hint towards changing his ways. His lack of interest in politics reflects his decision to spend holidays outside instead of attending the farewell dinner of outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He has been sitting in the back row in the Parliament for the past two terms. Not only this, he even participated in the debates only twice-thrice.

Sonia’s problems almost look similar to that of Rahul. Sonia was born outside India and she is not aware of the ground realities of country’s problems, whereas Rahul became active in politics in a half-hearted mode. During the second tenure of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, Manmohan Singh kept on urging Rahul either to become Prime Minister or join Cabinet but nothing of that sort could happen. Maybe Manmohan Singh would request Rahul after getting disappointed with Gandhi family’s interference in the functioning of government. But it would have been better for the Congress that government could function in a proper and hassle-free manner.

The Congress can’t hide the truth behind this logic that it had to face rout due to anti-incumbency factor and it’s also true that corruption and inflation skyrocketed mainly due to UPA’s style of functioning. People’s anger against the government got further heightened mainly because in spite of giving several warnings, the government felt no need to bring in the reforms. Things went beyond the extent when the criticism of government was being painted with ‘political motives’. The way Rahul Gandhi kept on talking about Right to Information in the election rallies while replying to corruption related issues made it clear that he is not willing to accept and understand the truth and reality. May be, he had harboured a misunderstanding that framing laws providing right will please the people who will re-elect UPA.

The Congress may be citing huge expenses and extensive poll campaigns as main reasons behind BJP’s overwhelming mandate but the reality is that the party has lost people’s faith. Price rise and corruption are not the main reason behind this but the arrogant and adamant attitude of the party leaders is also responsible. Not only did they seem to be detached with the reality but are seen speaking the half-truth even after the declaration of results. Now, everyone wants to know whether the nation’s oldest political party would be able to regain its lost ground.  The possibilities appear bleak as of now as the Congress is yet to crawl out of the shadows of Gandhi family in order to think about a new beginning.

A major section of the Congress is also demanding active role of Priyanka Gandhi in the party after Rahul Gandhi’s failure in leaving an impact, in spite of being well-aware of this very fact that she remains confined to Amethi and Rae Bareli constituencies. It seems that the Congressmen are yet to understand this fact that things have changed in the country and it’s not willing to accept Gandhi family as its leader. Those who are extolling Priyanka should also come up with the suggestion that in what and which manner she can breathe in a new lease of life into the moribund party. Like Rahul, even she is inexperienced and this was quite visible in her speeches delivered in Amethi and Rae Bareli.  

It’s indeed surprising that there are several leaders in Congress who are looking to sail through the elections in name of Gandhi family. Today, it has become quite difficult to expect that whether Rahul would be able to bring any fundamental changes in the party which gave worst ever showing.  Had someone else, in place of Rahul Gandhi been in charge of the party, would it have been accepted and acknowledged his/her role behind the debacle? The party, which has traces of dynastic politics infused in its blood, will have to think about its future in the context of this very issue. If the leaders don’t stop looking at the party’s future from Gandhi family’s perspective, they should give up all hopes of the party seeing any rejuvenation of sorts. In the same way, if Rahul wants to bring the lost glory of the Congress and associate it with the task of nation building, he will have to initiate changes in the scheme of things in its core structure. Though he mentions about it, he has not been able to do anything regarding this on ground level. He needs to understand the wishes, aspirations and expectations of the new India and based on that, the Congress’ ideology should be changed.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on May 25, 2014 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)