- The Opposition in India is currently MIA - missing in action.
- The country’s oldest political party the Congress has reduced itself to a Twitter handle - keying in and virtually dialing in the process to keep the government accountable.
The situation in Kashmir is grave as the Narendra Modi government-imposed lockdown enters two months. The entire world is now asking questions. You would reckon the Kashmir lockdown along with India’s tumbling economy would ensure that the Opposition would ask questions on behalf of the Indian public.
You would be wrong. Ex-Congress president Rahul Gandhi has left for an undisclosed location abroad for a vipasana retreat. Nothing wrong in seeking inner peace, but isn’t winning elections the sole reason for the existence of a political party? He has since returned.
Elections are ten days away in the critical states of Maharashtra (sends 48 – the second largest number of Lok Sabha seats after Uttar Pradesh) and Haryana. And despite Kashmir and the economy, the Modi-led BJP government in both states are expected to romp home with historic numbers.
The Opposition in India is currently MIA - missing in action. The country’s oldest political party the Congress has reduced itself to a Twitter handle - keying in and virtually dialing in the process to keep the government accountable.
Senior Congress leaders with outsize ambitions tweet pictures of themselves with cabin crews on various trips across India and the world. They are happy to be guests at literature festivals, visiting temples.
In Parliament they rake up soft porn books - Fifty Shades of Grey when debating the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir.
Incredibly now the Congress, a late convert to the virtues of social media, now quarrels and fights with top leaders on Twitter. The latest feud on display - irate Mumbai leader, Sanjay Nirupam launching twitter broadsides against his party.
Congress lacks vision
Congress leaders no longer hit the streets to demonstrate against things like lack of jobs, growth and Kashmir. All the action is restricted to tweets. So Priyanka Gandhi, whose political debut can be charitably described as underwhelming and who currently helms the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, fights the Yogi Adityanath BJP government where else but on twitter. Gandhi has no Uttar Pradesh address and still appears to be believe that this is an effective check on the Yogi government, which has ensured that the rule of law is an absent dream in this state.
Sullen Congress leaders now ask why are we expected to only provide Opposition? They add that the panna pramukh media questions the Opposition and the Congress not the Modi government.
But in a functional democracy the Opposition should not be only looking at media coverage. The reality is that the Congress has lurched around like a zombie post the election results and Rahul Gandhi’s resignation as president. Pretty much like a zombie the Congress is not a sensate Opposition yet it refuses to cede the Opposition space.
The Congress brand is still extremely powerful. Around 11 crore Indians voted for it in the last general elections. The real trouble is that the party, which currently resembles a cult around the Gandhi family, is not producing any more mass leaders. Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar even Jagan Reddy quit the Congress to successfully start their own regional outfits.
With the current crisis in the Opposition ranks what prevents Sonia Gandhi, currently interim president and earlier the longest serving Congress president to issue a call for all these regional leaders to come back to the party in the national interest of providing an effective opposition to the Modi government?
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What prevents the Congress from promoting the handful of young leaders it has left to positions of power? I can predict that post the two election drubbings the younger leaders will make a beeline for the exit gate. And they are not motivated purely by ambition, most of them are hugely frustrated and see no future for themselves in the Congress party anymore.
The time has come that the Gandhi family understand that Modi and his über aggressive BJP have truly hurt their brand. Most of India now is impatient with dynasty and having a political family name is to be dismissed as a silver spoon heirloom.
The Congress needs to have an elected president- one who is hungry for political battle and power.
Entitled disinterest will no longer do. India deserves an Opposition.