Voting for India’s five states assembly elections ended on December 4th. The exit polls are predicting the results of the elections with the Congress party likely to lose in all five states while the BJP can expect to hold on to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where it has ruled for the last two terms, and will defeat the Congress party in the state of Delhi and Rajasthan. Also in the state of Mizoram, a small state located in northeast India, the ruling Congress party is expected to lose against the local opposition party, Mizo National Front. If these exit polls turn out to be accurate, the Congress party will lose in all five states which will definitely be reflected in next year’s parliamentary elections.
The key reason for the possible defeat of Congress party in the state assembly elections is its lack of focus on real and crucial public issues, such as corruption and rising food prices. For the first few months of 2013, the Congress party engaged in BJP’s internal politics and it lost respect by meddling in the opposition party’s internal politics. Party leaders, consciously and actively, kept making statements adding extra fuel in the brawl between L K Advani against BJP and Modi. This was an unprecedented gesture of desperation to prevent Modi from becoming a prime ministerial candidate.
The organization lost a marvelous opportunity to show its maturity as India’s oldest political party by staying away from the opposition party’s internal issues. A gracious statement directing politicians to stay away from BJP’s internal affair, either by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi, would have earned some respect for the Congress party. The entire endeavor of trying to stop Modi from becoming a Prime Ministerial candidate proved nothing but exposed Congresses’ Modi phobia. Accepting Modi as a Prime Ministerial candidate even before BJP declared him as one would have proved Modi to be an average candidate.
The Congress party lost another opportunity to present itself as a party of great leaders – like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru – when Congress leaders continued to ridicule Modi about his accomplishment in the state of Gujarat, even after he was confirmed as a Prime Ministerial candidate by BJP. Moreover, instead of offering additional security, the Congress government displayed an unwillingness to enhance Modi’s security because of increased threats to his life. In most democratic systems, presidential or prime ministerial candidates are shown respect, and for Congress to show some respect to the PM candidate, if not to Modi, would have increased the reputation of the party.
If BJP is able to form a new government in 2014 and Modi becomes the new prime minister of India, the Congress party will have plenty of time to work on rejuvenating the party, which may not be good but time spent in improving itself would be good for the country. A healthy democracy needs at least two competitively competent parties. Narendra Modi and BJP will not be in power forever and someday Congress may return to power as a well focused, new and improved political party.
In the era of 24 hour live media coverage, people do not only hear politicians, but also see them live and perceive their expressions and body language on their television screens. Propaganda has no place in today’s politics since every action, reaction, and word is recorded live. It is time for the Congress party to let go of all the arrogant faces – such as Manish Tiwari, Kapil Sibble, Shila Dixit and also Sonia Gandhi – and let Rahul Gandhi step up and take charge of the party. A charismatic personality has become critical for political success of individuals as well as political parties and thus Rahul Gandhi should introduce a young and talented team from a new generation of congress leaders and pose a challenge to BJP in coming years.