Congress Party: between Jairam and Jai Shree Ram

By Ajit Chak

The future of Congressmen lies today between following what Jairam Ramesh has said to the media or looking towards the BJP for solutions. In short, their careers hinge between Jairam in the Congress and Jai Shree Ram in the BJP. Several Congress leaders have already opted for the latter as the Congress is undergoing a slow motion Battle of Waterloo where its supreme commander orders a cavalry charge when the battlefield is wet and backs down before the grand attack can take place.

Yet unfortunately Jairam Ramesh who was known for his controversial statements on division of states in India and his love for MGNREGA has harped upon one fact and stressed upon one fact that he is unhappy at the idea that Rahul Gandhi has still not taken charge of the Congress.

Today Punjab is undoubtedly the last strong bastion of the Congress Party and the party does face what Jairam says is an existential crisis elsewhere in the nation. However there are reasons for this crisis.

Presence in the media whether it is TV or Print media to a great extent decides who will emerge as a leader in the future. Take a classic case. The media in the United States of America was sidelined and replaced with a new media where the presence of political thinkers and politicians was replaced by actors and social celebrities. Today all the American Public has to look forward to are Dwain Johnson and Kim Kardashian and Oprah Winfrey. Any one of these has a fair chance of running for government in the United States on the basis of their media presence. While their ability to steer the United States in a crisis situation with China or Korea may be debatable.

We have a text book case study of a success story of a man with media presence who has been successful as a political figure, a businessman and much more because of this. Ask any child the story of Patanjali and Baba Ramdev.

Over the last one decade one thing has become quite clear Rahul Gandhi does not have the right media presence to lead the Congress and needs to reinvent his media presence. Maybe he does not have the right advisors after all the advisors play a major role in a politiciansÔÇÖ life.

The Congress party is today seeing its senior leaders walking across to the BJP for several reasons and one among them is the fear that they will become politically irrelevant if they do not do so. There is also the fear that if they are deprived of power they may not be in a position to protect their interests.

The Congress saw several phases and several transition phases but never was Congress is such a big fix is what Jairam Ramesh essentially says. However there is a need for the Congress to identify new leaders and new speakers and try and keep religion out of politics as religion and caste based politics may backfire. The biggest weakness of the Congress is that it does not have a cadre today and actually never did. The party was a party of landlords where the Sewa Dal was created to do just what it was named, for the Sewa of the top leaders. New entrants were treated with disrespect and even after years of service to the party denied the fruits of political labour which went only to dynasties within the party.

However it is here that the party now needs to undertake a big revamp. It was during the election of the vice president that something very strange happened but most Congress leaders and workers may have missed it.

Gopal Krishna Gandhi may have lost the elections but his media presence was definitely far superior to that which most Congress leaders enjoy today.

If the Congress has lost a great ally in Nitish Kumar then it would not be fair for the Congress to blame Kumar for what he did. Every leader likes to safeguard his own position but there are media circles that insist that Laloo Yadav had it coming in Bihar for a long time after the alliance was formed.

One of the biggest lessons of forming such an alliance for the Congress is that any such patchwork alliance will not succeed if the partner you choose as a key player is too ambitious or too involved in too many scams.

There are rumours that there was pressure of Kumar to resign and take up politics in the Centre while the RJD should have a chief minister of its own in the state. There are rumours that prohibition and the clampdown on the sand mining mafia were not suiting some senior politicians in Bihar and they were opposed to it. Rahul Gandhi who had played a key role according to the Congress Party Media Cell in creating the Grand Secular Alliance failed as a leader where his party was a partner in power and failed to save the alliance in Bihar by intervening at the right time.
Maybe the Congress needs another Gandhi, maybe it needs someone like a Gopal Krishna Gandhi to lead it and maybe it needs to perform wonders in states where it is in power like Punjab by creating economic success stories that are beyond compare.

While it will be impossible for Gopal Gandhi to do it alone the Congress needs to rid itself of the tainted and the corrupt and choose its next set of leaders more wisely. Moreso it should put them in the field immediately both in rural and urban India, the results will take time but they will begin to come in.


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