The bane of Congressism

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Mar 2018 10:34:52


By Vijay Phanshikar,










Dinner is, no doubt, a good occasion to forge friendships, to cobble alliances, and decide upon a common goal. Congress leader Mrs. Sonia Gandhi chose exactly dinner as a platform on which to invite Opposition leadership in an attempt to rejig what she called ‘United Front’ of all parties to fight the electoral onslaught of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But even as the invitations were being passed on, Congress leader Mr. Veerappa Moily said something that alarmed leaders of at least some Opposition parties. Mr. Moily said, in effect, that no effort to revive an Opposition unity could succeed unless the Congress party is in the lead. In other words, if Mr. Moily was not speaking on his own behalf, he was making a strong suggestion of revival of what can be called ‘Congressism’. And that also made at least a few eye-brows rise in contortion.

That was the reason why leaders of many Opposition parties, mostly with respective influences in one or two or three Lok Sabha constituencies, went to the dinner only tentatively. That mood, as sources indicated subsequently, continued to gnaw at the very effort as Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and a couple of Congress leaders tried to pitch for a United Front. Profound doubts persisted in many minds, and promises for a united action in electoral arena in the next one year or so came out only in mumbles and not in firm statements. Right from the start, thus, the effort to evoke the tool of dinner diplomacy to forge an Opposition unity well in advance faced rather a tepid weather.

Leave alone the continued assertion of BJP President Mr. Amit Shah about a “Congress Mukt Bharat”, any effort to forge an alliance only to defeat a bigger and stronger alliance always meets with failure. When Congress was in power and when other parties tried to forge such alliances -- Anti-Congressism -- they met with signal failure. For, in ideological as well as philosophical terms, such efforts are hollow in content and therefore end up in failure.

In the case of “Congress Mukt Bharat”, the issue is different. For, the BJP has succeeded in raising the ideological pitch to an actionable level, which does not seem possible under the leadership of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi when her colleagues have already started pushing for Congressism as an ideology.

Of course, it must be admitted that most parties outside the BJP and Leftist folds are off-shoots of Congressism for decades. Either they stemmed from some disagreement within the bigger Congress party, or from the bloated egos of a few Congressmen who nursed higher personal ambitions.

Despite this, when Mr. Veerappa Moily hinted at Congressism, some eye-brows did get raised and some profound doubts did emerge in silent corners of some leaders’ minds. If this silent line is going to stop many parties outside the fringe, then the fate of the Sonia-proposed United Front comes under clouds of doubt even before it gets forged formally.

There is little doubt, of course, about the trigger that is itching in the collective Opposition mind -- the overwhelming dominance of the BJP on the political scenario, let alone a few defeats here and there in by-elections, mostly owing to local reasons. Despite this, questions do loom large in every mind if the respective leaderships of all such small parties, including Congress, would be able to rise above the ideological divide and forge an alliance that would be able to sort out all the multi-dimensional issues and make sacrifices to accommodate other partners when it comes to fielding candidates against the all-powerfull BJP in the electoral battle a little over a year later.

The common apprehension most small parties harbour is whether Congressism would eat up their individual interests in the name of a larger alliance. It is exactly this aspect where the BJP leadership has succeeded. Its leadership has been able to erase that fear from the minds of its partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Can Congress led by the very inexperienced Mr. Rahul Gandhi achieve that kind of suave connect?

To this question, the answer is obviously in the negative. Neither Mr. Rahul Gandhi, nor his mother, who has often been described by her cronies as a great unifier (as chairperson of United Progressive Alliance -UPA), nor any other existing top-level leader has the capacity to make massive sacrifices to accommodate allies for a larger common goal.

For, it is not in the culture and philosophy of the Congress party to make such sacrifices. Historically, Congressism can mean only one thing -- either you follow what the Congress says, or you opt out.

For anybody who has watched the trajectory of Congress history for the past fifty years, would be able to predict the fate of the Sonia-proposed United front. In all likelihood, the United Front would succumb under the weight of Congressism, like many tiger cubs do when the mother-tigress rolls over in sleep, suffocating to death under their mother’s lazying and stretching body.