By Sushil Kutty
Insulating the leader from failures of the party is standard operating procedure for any political outfit. In the Congress it is the procedure period. So Rahul Gandhi may have claimed “moral victory” and everybody is hard at work to insulate him. He should discourage such a trend. At the same time he should remind every Congressman that the Congress Party is a 132 year old political organization with a history to envy. A formidable history, it is the party which led India to Independence. Some of the biggest stalwarts of modern India found their feet in the Congress and stayed through the thick and thin of Freedom Struggle.
So Rahul Gandhi need not be apologetic. Neither should he hide behind the cover of a “moral victory”. The Congress Party has fought scores of elections and if a count is made, the scorecard will weigh heavily in favour of outright victories. That is why when the Congress Party loses a general election it makes big news. Huge. Humongous. When Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi lost elections it shook up the political firmament. But neither of them hid behind the platitudes of ‘moral victory’. They regrouped their armies and fought back, and won.
Granted that times have changed. The political atmosphere has never in the days since Independence been this vicious and divisive as of now. The caste and communal divides are up against an increasingly unifying India – the India of the young and the aspiring, who want to change with the times, shed age-old inhibitions, break glass ceilings, and fight to make a nation that is inclusive and plural at the same time. The Congress is by its very dna the only political party – the Grand Old Young Party as Rahul Gandhi put it – that can deliver the Promised Land to the Young Indians of a Young India.
So Rahul Gandhi should, while gearing up for an electoral victory in the immediate future, which is an imperative to lift the spirits of party cadre, in the next state that goes to polls, work to build up an election machine that can give a fight to remember to the Modi-Shah electoral apparatus. Why is it the Sewa Dal such a moribund Congress arm, only seen at 24 Akbar Road when it is time to burst firecrackers? Why cannot the Congress leadership mandate that all those in the NSUI and the Youth Congress should go through a rite of passage in the Sewa Dal? Conscripted into the Sewa Dal for a period of say two years. Like in the military in Israel.
Young men and women in the Youth Congress should move out of the mindset that their only goal is to get a ticket to fight elections. The Sewa Dal should be converted into an election war machine. Besides being first on the scene where a calamity strikes. The khaki-knickers have had it very easy for far too long. It is time to give them a zabardast jhatka. That would be the only way to build an election machine from the booth-up.
That said, it is good to know that behind the scenes the Congress is introspecting as to why a resurgent Congress under a rejuvenated Rahul Gandhi failed to carry forward the R-momentum and win the Gujarat election? Senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily – tasked with the post-mortem of the Congress campaign in Gujarat – has zeroed in on two Congress leaders – Mani Shankar Aiyar and Kapil Sibal – who had with their intemperate statements given Prime Minister Narendra Modi the chance to “emotionally blackmail” the people of Gujarat.
Veerappa Moily is one of the senior most members of the Congress party and a close adviser of Sonia Gandhi. He is an AICC general secretary and a former chief minister. He was also Cabinet Minister for Law & Justice and Cabinet Minister for Corporate Affairs. Moily has concluded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the maximum use of controversial statements made by Congress leaders to discredit the Congress and emotionally blackmail the people of Gujarat. But for Mani Shankar Aiyar’s ‘neech aadmi’ reference to Modi, ‘Gujarat Ki Asmita’ or ‘Gujarati Pride’ would not have become an election issue.
Moily has ruled that the completely needless statements of Aiyar and Kapil Sibal during the Gujarat election campaign undid the gains made by Congress party president Rahul Gandhi during the Gujarat campaign. He has said that the performance of the Congress was “par excellence” under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. That should be taken with a pinch of salt. For flattery and sycophancy is ingrained in the Congressman. Rahul Gandhi should send out a signal that there will be zero tolerance for flattery and sycophants. That only hard work and results will be rewarded.
Rahul’s sole goal at this point of time should be to build lean-mean election winning machines in all the states and Union territories with an eye on state elections between now and 2019. Leaders at every level of the organization should be given tasks with fixed dates to present report cards. The Sewa Dal should be brought up to speed, and level. Congress workers should be like the National Guard of the United States, fighting fit for the call to arms. Efficiency and delivery should be the new norms.
Rahul Gandhi should get it into his head that he has only limited time at his disposal – from now to 2019. A second term to the Modi government will deliver a ‘zabardast jhatka’ to the Congress. Modi and Shah will by hook or crook make India Congress-mukt.
Last but not least, Rahul Gandhi should enforce a gag order on all Congressmen. Intemperate and vulgar statements should not be tolerated. Let Modi and Shah waste time dealing with the likes of Giriraj Kishore and Sakshi Maharaj. The Congressman should be held to a higher standard. The Congress should not have a single loose cannon rolling downhill with a mind of its own.
Moily has identified certain characteristics a Congressman should have: Basic common sense. Wisdom do not play into the hands of the enemy. Be careful with words. Have political sense. Be restrained particularly during and on the eve of elections. Mani Shankar Aiyar and Kapil Sibal gave Modi the very talking points he was craving for. It is a foolish person, indeed, who gives the enemy ammunition. (IPA Service)