By Ujjavala Bothra
Edited by Nidhi Singh, Junior Editor, The Indian Economist
Indian National Congress (INC) was founded in 1885 by A.O. Hume and it has been the most dominant political party that the nation has ever witnessed in the post-Independence era. It has governed the nation for 49 years out of the 67 years of independence and in 2014 it has registered the worst performance in its entire political career (44 out of 543 seats) and has lost miserably to Bhartiya Janata Party. The greater question that looms around is that “Will the Indian national Congress be able to revive itself?”
There are a few reasons why the nation is so apprehensive about the question. Firstly, it has been more than two months that the new government has been formed, but the Congress has not yet attained the position of Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha due to legal constraints. Though Congress has been struggling for this position and has also filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for the same, but it is not being able to attain this post due to legal constraints (To be declared as a leader of opposition, a party must have secured at least 10% seats in the Lok Sabha). Congress is the single largest party that has ruled the nation for maximum number of years, but still the recent election has put a question mark on its ability to revive. One important thing that the Congress leaders must keep in mind is that if they get this position, then they must not sought after the status and perks that come along with the post of Leader of opposition (as per the Act of Parliament in 1977) but should focus on policy building and reform for the greater good. This may serve to be a last chance for the party to bounce back in Indian Politics.
Secondly, considering the state level politics in India, a drastic shift has been observed in recent times. Congress still maintains a decent influence in the north-eastern part of the nation but these states represent a very small number of seats in the Lok sabha which does not work in the favour of the party. The party is currently in power in the states like Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttarakhand apart from the significant presence in the north eastern states. But in the 2014 Lok sabha elections, the part won 3 out of 13 seats in Punjab, 1 out of 10 seats in Haryana, 0 out of 4 seats in Himachal Pradesh, 2 out of 48 seats in Maharashtra, 8 out of 20 seats in Kerala and 9 out of 28 seats in Karnataka which clearly reflects the vulnerability of the party in those states where it is currently in power (except Kerala).Moreover, as Bhartiya Janta Party is considered to be a mascot for development and majorly targets the middle class population, the Indian National Congress is considered to be a “messiah” for the poor targeting the lower income population. What is saddening for the party is that it has registered disgraceful defeat in all such states like Chhattisgarh (1 out of 11 seats), Jharkhand (0 out of 14 seats), Bihar (2 out of 40 seats), Uttar Pradesh (2 out of 80 seats), Madhya Pradesh (2 out of 27 seats), etcetera, which depicts the loss of support from the target group itself. The need of the hour is that if the party wants to survive in long run, it must work out a way to at least gather the support from its target group and the states in which it is currently ruling.
Thirdly, one of the major problems in the INC is the internal organisation of the party. Not only does the party require a strong leader but it also needs to get over with its internal clashes. It is well known that Rahul Gandhi has not been able to do wonders for the party which might indirectly reflect that the time has arrived when the party must stop following the policy of dynastic politics. A member in the party should be promoted entirely on the basis of merit which will allow the emergence of an efficient leader. Members in the party must not pitch against one another and on the contrary must unanimously figure out a way to revive the party. It is high time that the power within the party is decentralised or else the future of the Indian National Congress seems dubious.
In a nutshell, the Indian National Congress still has the ability to bounce back but it needs to introspect its actions and policies. Better late than never!