Years ago, a visionary Congress leader predicted that the ordinary party worker would save the party for their survival when they find their leaders ineffective. It looks as if that moment has come now. The party is gasping for breath, and it needs oxygen from solid leadership, but that is what is lacking. So the worker has to substitute with small doses.
However, the idea that a party that is barely breathing can be suddenly readied to take on the ruling BJP at the next general election is almost short of a miracle. There are too many ifs and buts, but it is possible with strong leadership. What is important is also to save Congress from itself. Congressmen often say that Congress can be defeated only by congressmen.
Suffering from factionalism and erosion, the Grand Old Party is now on a ventilator. It is unable to function without the Gandhi family or with them. The vacuum at the top has encouraged the regional satraps to question the national leadership. The party has not been able to raise its head since the 2014 defeat. The party has not only lost two Lok Sabha and many state Assembly elections one after another since 2014 but also failed to hold on to power in the states where it formed the government.
The brutal truth is that the party is absurdly out of touch with the new political landscape. Worse, instead of looking forward, it is looking backward. It is trying to be everyone’s party while actually, it is no one’s party. Leadership crisis is also now manifest in a battle of generational change.
Given these circumstances, a revival of the Congress is not going to be smooth. But there can still be room for Congress as a national party. This would be when it can find its ideological moorings, draw inspiration from its past, move in step with the millennials, and find an acceptable narrative. For all these, good leadership is needed. Sonia Gandhi could bring the party to power twice in 2004 and 2009 but she has almost retired. The Gandhi siblings have not shown their vote-catching capacity. They want to emulate their grandmother Indira Gandhi without her leadership qualities.