Some observers like us have been saying in the face of much mistrust that without Congress in the team no coalition for a national opposition can really take off.But we too have been shaken by the continued stasis of the party.In states this has led to a strange inertia punctuated by quiet departures from time to time of one or two local leaders or prominent members without much fuss.The leadership has ceased to react,perhaps hoping it will still be able to salvage sufficient support among the people.BJP President J.P.Nadda has quipped that Congress is a tourist that comes visiting at election time.And he has got hold of something tangible.There is very little activity on the ground that generates confidence.
One does not of course have in mind the kind of noise and scene like those during election campaigns.But there is so much that troubles and disturbs the public and so little visible effort to share their grievances,organize protests and such other popular responses and thus deepen and widen the party’s public support.It is as if such activities are solely calculated to garner votes.The fact that such seasonal activity might erode public support and generate distrust does not seem to register at all.
Not a whit of doubt that Rahul Gandhi hits the nail on the head every time he refutes a typical grandiose assertion by the Prime Minister.But at the end there is a diminishing return from such forays. Besides, these pepper shots are unlikely to have much effect on an enemy that has dug in and consolidated itself by means of organization, propaganda and steady wily penetration of its foe’s defences.The enemy has been weakened by its own miscalculations and errors,but not to such an extent as to send it hurtling headlong into a rout.
This is the moment for vigorous activity from the grassroots upwards.But one can see no such signs of life.
The party still lacks a president who is responsible for preparations for the country-wide campaign through renewed efforts to mobilize the people and harness wider support for its policies and vision.The letter from 23 prominent dissidents does not amount to any genuine effort to revitalize the party.At best it has sounded an alarum but has left the work it thinks necessary to Sonia Gandhi.That means they themselves lack the energy and the clout to bring about the change.The result being that they have dissociated themselves from the present leadership but not brought into being an alternative.Such a gesture appears more like sabotage than a creative contribution to regeneration,though they might have the best of intentions in the world.
There are only three more years to go for the moment when the nation decides how to shape its future for an indefinite period of time Failure this time may not only bury the party’s chances,but the nation’s existence as a normal,viable democracy,with untold consequences for millions of toiling Indians.For as suggested at the beginning Congress still holds too many people within the ambit of its influence to be an inconsequential player.
Hiren Gohain is a literary critic, and social scientist