Time to Act for Congress

Brij Bhardwaj
There is no chance of things changing in Congress Party as every defeat in the polls leads to a call for change, but after holding a few meetings it goes back to old style of working. Every election held after 2014 for state Assemblies or Lok Sabha has created fresh doubts in minds of all – if Congress Party is any more capable of playing the role of main opposition party. This is the view of not only BJP but also of many regional parties and leaders.
Many leaders, including Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee have clearly stated that Congress Party is not capable of challenging BJP and an alternative should be built by regional parties coming together, which also is not easy. A veteran leader of the Congress party told me after meeting of Working Committee that problem with Congress was not only with the top leadership but the fact that there was no inner party democracy .All decisions are taken by top few without consultation with men in field.
Party has held no membership drive for two decades. There are no elected delegates, no elected district office-bearers, no elected provincial Committees and no elected Working Committee. All office-bearers are nominated.. In such a set up ground level organisation has withered away. With Congress Party in such a sorry state what are the prospects of an opposition party coming up in future. Congress alone offers a direct fight to BJP in around 300 seats in Lok Sabha in which BJP wins about eighty per cent of the seats.
Regional parties make tall claims but none of them have made even a start to be called a national party. While Congress has a vote share of about 20 per cent in national poll no regional party has crossed five per cent mark. One can imagine twenty per cent becoming thirty or thirty five but no party can jump from five per cent to thirty. There is no leader with appeal on national level who could unite regional parties to come on a common platform..
The attempts are being made by regional parties to expand their area of influence but has met with limited success. The only state where it has worked is Punjab. But it has taken nearly a decade before AAP could capture power. The regional parties attempt to expand is coming about at the cost of Congress party and not by damaging BJP. In state elections in Goa and Uttrakhand Aam Aadmi Party and Trinamool Congress helped BJP by taking a slice of anti-BJP vote and thus helping BJP to win.
As such we are a democracy in which there is no opposition party for which people could opt for in case they were not satisfied with party in power. It is not my case that there is no opposition to BJP as eight States including some major ones are ruled by regional parties . In three Congress is in power on its own or in coalition. BJP vote share is around 40 per cent in national polls while opposition has over half the country voting for them.
The question often asked is can it change, the answer is yes. But it cannot happen overnight as it takes decades to build a party at national level. After split in the Congress Party, Indira Gandhi took her two decades before she could rebuild Congress. Same is case of BJP. It started to build itself as a national alternative after experiment of Janata Dal failed and it came to power on its own in 2014 only. Question is which party has the stamina and capacity for such a role . No party which is run as a family unit or representing a clan has a chance. It has to be a party with national appeal and capacity to bring different shades of opinion under one banner.
My friend said, main opposition party in future will be one which adopts ideology of Congress but it may not be present Congress. He said even at present large number of States are being governed by former Congressmen who have become regional leaders or joined BJP. So to win you need inner party democracy this is a warning for all in power or in opposition. One leader or family party cannot work for long.