Source: The Hitavada      Date: 24 Oct 2018 14:21:32

WISDOM has finally dawned upon the grand old Congress party in the face of withering away of its presumed partners in the Mahagatbandhan (Grand Alliance) to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In a major climbdown from its tomtomming position of projecting Mr. Rahul Gandhi as its Prime Ministerial face, Congress has stated that the party has not officially declared Mr. Gandhi as its PM candidate. This is a big descent by Congress as it realises the ground reality about acceptance of its National President.

Senior Congress leader Mr. P Chidambaram took the age-old way out by blaming some of the party’s outspoken leaders, who, the former minister says, went beyond the AICC policy and spoke about Mr. Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate. As per Mr. Chidambaram, Mr. Gandhi never said that he wanted to be become Prime Minister. This is a pathetic attempt to shield the false bravado of its President, who has gone on record about his ambition of becoming Prime Minister of India.

A big shift in the Congress goalpost is obvious now. After gauging the negative mood of national and regional parties over the grand alliance plan, the Congress is now luring its so-called allies with a dream to remove the BJP Government from Centre. “Our main objective is the removal of the Bharatiya Janata Party Government and ushering in a progressive government,” Mr. Chidambaram was quoted in a television interview. This realisation of walking on a slippery ground in national politics may or may not help Congress win back its allies, but formation of a Grand Alliance of opposition parties still looks a wild fantasy.

The reason behind retraction of making Mr. Gandhi as its Prime Ministerial candidate was the royal snub by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) and Samajwadi Party (SP) to the Congress that was seeking to forge a force to take on the BJP in the forthcoming Assembly elections in various States. In fact, BSP Supremo Ms. Mayawati had gone to the extent of terming the Congress leadership as arrogant and living in its own world.

This is a sad reality that the top leadership, under the shadows of the Gandhi family, is yet to come to terms with. Living on its past glory can be extremely foolhardy for Congress. State after State went to the BJP since its grand victory in 2014 while Congress has been left licking its wounds. In many States, barring a fine victory in Punjab, it was relegated to third or fourth positions and even carried the ignominy of scoring a blob. A few victories in by-elections with the help of regional powers cannot be termed as turnaround in fortunes.

Congress faces the real test in the Assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Chhattisgarh. It has already made a false start with an overbearing posture in seat-sharing with its supposed allies. That the tie-up did not work out was the testimony of Congress haughtiness which has become a major impediment for the party.

Congress’ climbdown over PM candidate is also a pointer to rejection of Mr. Rahul Gandhi as the leader of a united opposition. His style of working and the Congress culture of domination of regional parties has totally failed Mr. Gandhi. India’s political dynamics have undergone a major change from the Congress heydays. Various political outfits have become major players on the national scene. Coalition politics needs an attitude of accommodation of vitality of partners. Mr. Gandhi cannot live in a bubble of being the only alternative to take the Prime Minister’s chair, should the Congress win. In a scenario where many are still harbouring aspirations of becoming PM, wisdom tells that the Congress should keep Mr. Rahul Gandhi in the background.