Opinion » Lead

Updated: April 4, 2012 01:36 IST

Time for house-cleaning in the Congress

Harish Khare
Comment (43)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

India's Grand Old Party could yet win the Lok Sabha polls provided it purges the dysfunctional through internal elections and brings in a new crop of activists and cadres.

Madhu Limaye died in 1995. He was an old-fashioned socialist, a nationalist to the core, a superb parliamentarian and a keen student of Indian history. He had a mind of his own and never gave the impression that he could be intimidated by reputations or by vendors of political correctness. For most of his adult life he found good enough reasons to oppose the Congress, its leadership, its policies and its practices. He was passionate and principled in his opposition to the Congress. However, a few days before his death, this rare thinking man found himself compelled to write:

“The capacity of the non-Congress and non-BJP parties to win a Lok Sabha majority, in the first place, and pull together for any length of time afterwards, is at best doubtful. The reform and renewal of the Congress-I is, therefore, in the nation's interest. Faction spirit is not the answer. While I ardently hope that the challenge of the non-Congress secular parties would become stronger and more coherent and purposeful, as a well-wisher of the country, I would also like to see a reformed and united Congress Party.”

Limaye's faith in the party

An original proponent of anti-Congressism, Madhu Limaye came to see enough during a four-decade political career as well as see through many a non-Congress leader; and, by the time of his death he was addressing himself to the exacting task of devising a sustainable political order that would operationalise the Indian state. He had reason to be thoroughly disillusioned with the two non-Congress experiments in New Delhi, the Janata Party (1977-1979) and the Janata Dal/National Front government (1989-90), had disabused himself of any notion of a so-called third front and, perforce, had come to put his faith in the Congress capacity and record — however flawed — to hold the Centre. That faith is even more justified today than it was in 1995.

Now, a decline in Congress fortunes in itself would not have been a matter of much concern had its major national alternative, the Bharatiya Janata Party, inspired reasonable confidence that it was capable of sustaining the Centre. The BJP has turned its back on all notions of responsibility and seriousness of a grand purpose that are a sine qua non in any group wanting to steer the destiny of this complex and complicated nation. The BJP's incurable infirmities cast a heavy historic burden on the Congress.

The nature of this burden is becoming clearer by the day. After we have had our fill of romanticising defiance and celebrating chaos, the country will still need a governing arrangement, commensurate with its strategic compulsions, economic profile and democratic commitments; someone has to ensure stability, coherence and public order so as to harmonise a zillion demands of a billion impatient citizens. If that were not enough, India, its polity and its decision-makers, have to claw concessions and secure understandings out of an unsentimental global environment. The external world has no appetite for our shrill nationalist pieties and bogusly energetic platitudes, so demonstratively on display every evening in television studios. Anti-democratic forces and personalities are souring the democratic space and spirit. It is in this disquieting context that the Congress has to find — and do so, perhaps, despite itself — the verve and the energy to live up to its historic role of sustaining the Centre.

The Congress has sufficient institutional memory and resilience to take the setbacks in the recent Assembly elections in its collective stride. Nor is there any need for it to be apologetic about the Rahul Gandhi leadership issue. No one should have any doubt that Mr. Gandhi will inherit the Congress leadership mantle. Whatever the critics of the “dynasty” may have to say, this predictability about the leadership succession is an organisational asset and should, in the coming years, spare the Congress the kind of convulsions that will continue to buffet the BJP.

All that the Congress needs is clarity on political and policy fronts — but without presumptuousness or petulance. In the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress will primarily be confronting the BJP — in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka later this year, and then in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi next year. Therefore, it is unreasonable to expect the BJP to help the Congress push through a legislative agenda — especially if such policy initiatives are going to earn the ruling party any brownie points, a la MGNREGS, with the voters. Nor are its alliance partners under any kind of obligation to help the Congress consolidate its leadership or expand its appeal or reach. Only the Congress can help itself by pausing to undertake a course-correction, and a bit of house-cleaning.

Closed shop

The Congress leadership can begin by recognising that the organisation has become a closed shop. Sonia Gandhi has been president and undisputed leader of the party since 1998; yet, she has been reluctant to give her party a good shake-out. Instead, she has allowed herself to be persuaded that organisational elections would be an inherently destabilising experiment. It has been argued that “elections” would only instigate instability and that moneyed individuals would “capture” the organisation. There may be some merit in the argument, but it cannot be anybody's case that this precaution has produced genuine and sincere cadres at any level. On the contrary, the “leaders” at the State and Central level seem to have devised a mutually self-serving protocol to keep their stranglehold on the organisational hierarchy at the expense of the party's democratic vitality. Worse, this stranglehold merely reinforces status quoist impulses.

A vibrant political party like the Congress must necessarily mirror society's changing ambitions and aspirations. It is not too late to revive and redesign Ms Gandhi's original institutional innovation — an internal “election authority.” Between now and the next Lok Sabha polls, the Congress leadership has ample time to initiate a vigorous (and genuine) internal election process in order to weed out the dysfunctional and co-opt a new crop of activists and cadres.

The Congress president can set the ball rolling by dissolving the Congress Working Committee and the Central Election Committee. These two bodies have become platforms for “leaders” to promote themselves, their families and their cronies. On the government front, the “core group” mechanism should be scrapped forthwith; it produces only political timidity and policy confusion, as was so irritatingly evident during the molly-coddling of a disgruntled general.

Decency index

The Congress also needs to mind its manners. If the party wants to worm its way back into middle class respectability, it has to raise its own decency index. At the very minimum, the country needs to see for itself that the Congress has respect for constitutional and political institutions. As the oldest and the most responsible political party, it is the Congress's historic burden to inculcate good manners in the polity. It should be a matter of considerable concern for the Congress leadership that for the first time the Election Commission had reason to reprimand three Cabinet Ministers.

Because they have become a closed shop, the Congress leaders have become far too enamoured of “jugaad.” And as it lurches from one election to another, the party is not able to see its way beyond immediate electoral gains. This unedifying preoccupation has been particularly injurious to the party's image and its government's credibility.

Only after it has kicked its expedient habits can the Congress hope to deliver on its obligation of firm and fair governance; which means Cabinet Ministers start pursuing the public interest so that the country feels reassured that while imperfect policy choices have unwittingly produced disproportionate gains — even windfall profits — for a very tiny business elite, the party and its government do possess an internal moral compass. It is not too late for the Congress to recommit itself to the first principles of good governance. A muscular pursuit of political wholesomeness can be the only basis for the party's claim to the nation's affection — and to another five-year mandate in New Delhi.

(Harish Khare is a veteran commentator and political analyst.)


Small bypolls, big signalsApril 3, 2012

More In: Lead | Opinion

What a waste. The author must acknowledge that the best governed states of India are ruled not by Congress but by NDA. Take the example of Gujarat and Chattisgarh. Dr. Raman Singh and Narendra Modi have shown to the country how PDS can be used to give most-backward and poor people a hope. Even Supreme Court and Planning Commission have praised them and have asked other states to emulate their PDS model. Take the example of Bihar. Lalu Yadav is a natural ally of Congress. What Congress did to check the rampant corruption and goonda-raj there. Nothing. Don't talk of Secularism, this country have seen much more horrendous massacres during the tenure of Congress.

from:  Shekhar Sengar
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 15:06 IST

A very good article. Rajiv and Rahul Gandhi have at different times bemoaned the absence of proper organisational elections since the 1970s but nothing was done. Even apart from the Gandhis, I remember Narasimha Rao appointing the egregious Sitaram Kesri as Congress President, rather than allowing an election that would have probably brought A.K. Antony into that office. Sonia Gandhi did a great thing by making Manmohan Singh Prime Minister and staying out. Now she should allow Congress state chief ministers to be elected by their legislature parties. Also the BJP needs to become a nationalist alternative to the Congress and shed its sectarian roots.

from:  kc
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 22:46 IST

While the author is entitled to his opinion everyone else too is entitled to evaluate the article based on its merits.
We are living in an information age and with the kind of information we have about the Congress government it needs to go lock, stock and barrel. If we do not have alternatives present at the moment, so be it. We need to keep on making right choices every day and I am sure we will be better off inthe long run.
As the recent elections have shown people cannot be taken for a solid ride for years together. We are no longer happy with the so called 'budget allocation', we need to see change happening around us. Yes, our expectations have increased but so have the staken for us the common public.

from:  Sumit Vijayan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 18:23 IST

Khare has made good criticism of the Congress Party.Because he
believes that this party's health should be a concern for all
patriots, like Madhu Limaye, and should not be given up because of
some allies who are corrupt. It is not as if the other parties are not
corrupt, one has only to look at the BJP's six years without blinders.
After all Limaye fought Congress all his life and was instrumental in
bringing it down in 1977 and in 1989. He himself came to the
conclusion that the Congress is the only party that can hold this
country together and take it further ahead.The lasting changes in the
country's thinking and future that the UPA I and II have brought
through Rights to WIFFE (Work, Information, Food, Forest Dwellers
Rights and Education) will show its impact with every passing day.
Current inflation is a temporary problem and most other problems are
creations of a sensation mongering media and ill informed "educated'
like above commentators.

from:  M.C.Swaminathan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 15:48 IST

I stopped reading this artice when Mr Khare condones the dynatic succession as a orderly leadership takeover from one generation to another. The party's failure has been the dynasty. Inidra Gandhi came out fighting the Right Wing in the party and snathced the leadership and never looked back. If the party had inner-party democracy and conducted elections (free and fair) for party posts, the support for each candidate would have been from the ground level and not foisted on the constituents from the top. Sanay (sanjeev ), Rajiv , Sonia and Rahul are made leaders by the party hierarchy and not by the rank and file.

Th problem is with congress is it is top heavy. Leaders from one family and hangers on from a lot of families. Other small parties are following the same principle.

from:  mani sandilya
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 15:44 IST

Infact one should understand that so far the Congress as well as the BJP have not created the political identities that genuinely represent all the sections of the people, it was this reason they are struggling for their existance, particularly in Uttar Pradesh.

from:  Muzaffar Deshmukh
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 15:32 IST

Mr. Siddhart Varadarajan, I know you sometimes go through the comments
under opinion articles. So if you read the comments above (including
mine) and are now reading this comment, I want to again impress upon you
that this article does not merit a place in The Hindu. Yes all types of
educated debate should take place here, but this article is just an
insult to us readers.

from:  Ishan Dewan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 14:26 IST

"Nor is there any need for it to be apologetic about the Rahul Gandhi leadership issue. No one should have any doubt that Mr. Gandhi will inherit the Congress leadership mantle. Whatever the critics of the “dynasty” may have to say, this predictability about the leadership succession is an organisational asset and should, in the coming years, spare the Congress the kind of convulsions that will continue to buffet the BJP." I wonder is the author trying to suggest some remedies for the congress or spearheading a propaganda for congress for the upcoming 2014 elections! I can understand such articles in a certian newspaper, but not in the Hindu for god sake.

from:  Saurabh jha
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 09:23 IST

While I agree with the notion that India needs a strong Congress party, the theory that Gandhi family can achieve this, let alone bring Congress party to modernity is bogus. Also, while it is true that Gandhi family has acted as a glue many times, that binds various congress leaders and factions together, the author has to acknowledge the fact that Gandhi dynasty (post-Nehru era) has also been Congress's achilles' heel. It is this Gandhi family that prevents Congress from emerging as a true professional political party. Also, the author and in general "The Hindu" please try to shed some light on a report appeared in a German news paper that Sonia Gandhi is one of the wealthiest politicians in the world. How does this happen? It seems to me that new generation of Indians abhor dynastic power. If Congress cannot carry along the new generation, what is its future? It seems Congress requires a large poor and illiterate population, and a lot of insecure Muslims to survive. None guaranteed.

from:  Haridas Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 09:15 IST

Nehru family is no longer an asset to the Nation.The Congress is collapsing by its own making.all its policies and programmes based on ad hocism. Its own spokesmen are enough to bury the grave for the Congress.Lok Sabha election due in 2014 going to be a waterloo for it.The congress never allow the States to flourish and it destroys federalism in the Country.Pity that there is no alternative to the Congress.It is good for the Country,if Congress emerge with a new leadership for dynamism and vibrancy

from:  B.Viswakarman
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 05:49 IST

I'm impressed more with the comments than the article. I don't know if
THE HINDU is testing the readers on this article or actually using it
to shove the idea of the 'ideal Congress' down our throat. Times have
changed and we need leaders who are not only diplomatic but also pro-
active. I have seen many such elite friends who support the Congress
like the author, being aware of it's leach attitude. Khare, who's now
65 (or more) belongs to the generation which has silently accepted the
best they could get from their masters. The article is analogous to a
typical Indian family where the mother tells her love-struck daughter
that she can't marry the guy she loves, as her father won't agree and
at the same time explains her that the guy they're getting her married
to is an average guy from a good family who will try and take care of
her and she can try to be happy. I can't digest that THE HINDU can
publish such a stereotypical pro-congress article and humiliate the

from:  Ardus
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 01:29 IST

A SITUATION ANALYSIS & A WAY FORWARD? Mr Tariyal : “mere lack of options cannot be a reason for supporting continued mis-governance and dynastic politics that is literally being shoved down our throats”; Mr Chattopadhyay: “ if .. [any] dynasty is to be regarded as the asset of .. [that party] then its feudal
structure must also be accepted as equally valuable .. both are equally undemocratic”; Mr Iyer: “The fact that a large number of MPs and MLAs are criminals only makes the public doubt .. [that] Party's aims.”; Prof Malviya: “Because their interest does not [lie] with the welfare of the masses. Their sole preoccupation rests with holding [on to] .. power and preserving the privileges that power guarantee[s]”; Mr Chandrasekaran: “a .. [new] alternative alone will .. show the way.” Mr Kumar: “The [new] generation must be taught to believe in truth, honesty and integrity. Democracy gives power to people, and power can only be given to responsible and educated people”.

from:  D Mahapatra
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 00:31 IST

The Congress today is not what Mr Madhu Limaye observed before his demise.
Whatever he noted about Congress at that time was out of frustration that the earlier two non-Congress experiments at the Centre of Janata Party and Janata Dal governments did not hold together for the full term.Today, BJP is not the same Party of North India as in 1977. It is a full fledged National Party with its own governments in MP, Gujarat and Karnataka and along with allies in Punjab and Goa.It has an inherent democratic way of working with elections for office bearers, right up to Party President.No doubt,it has issues of "Ram Temple"and "Hindutva" to sort out.However,the credit for completing full term of a coalition government first goes to BJP led NDA.On the other hand,Congress without Gandhi family is zero.The Party has faced massive defeats in Bihar and UP,despite its heir apparent in charge of poll affairs.To me,Congress looks more likely to land up as a minor ally of a Third Front,post 2014 !

from:  KS Raghunathan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 23:35 IST

The analysis is good, but let us face the truth. The Congress party of today, has nothing in common with the Indian National Congress, which fought for independence from the British. That party had thousands of selfless workers, scores of patriotic leaders, who even sold their personal properties, to fund a national cause - independence. That changed after Indira Gandhi took over the rein of the party. She promoted sycophancy, brought down legally elected governments through "cash for votes" schemes or "no confidence motions", divided the country by promoting caste & religion rivalry. She is famous for condoning corruption by calling it a "universal phenomenon".
Today's Congress party hankers after power, and wealth. They are a law unto themselves, with no regard to morals or ethics. I would have loved for THE HINDU to cover more important topics, than the dynastic rule perpetuated by the congress party.

from:  Srinivasa Thirunarayanan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 19:35 IST

The comments provided above by the readers are more impressive than the thoughts of the writer of this article. The problem of congress has been and and also is now the same family who has ruled our country since Independence. Nehru became PM on pretext of blackmailing eventhough he lost emphatically against Sardar Vallabh Patel. This so called first family is Congresses's problem which the author of this article overlooked. No party in India is capable and worth of ruling India today. All parties are funded by Industrialists and ruled by Criminals. We definitely need a brief dictatorship to cull all the evil elemnts of society once and for all and groom atleast one generation who love their country and are honest from the core of their heart. The generation must be taught to believe in truth, honesty and integrity. Democracy gives power to people and power can only be given to responsible and educated people which is a distant dream for Indian masses.

from:  Ravi Kumar
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 17:32 IST

Rahul Gandhi can be a passionate and devout worker but NEVER a leader

from:  P.S.Arunachalam
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 16:58 IST

Time has changed whether we accept it or not. Now the expectation of
people is very high. 40 years back, getting a clerical job in govt
service was considered great; people were silently bearing
difficulties - either road, bus service, elecricity, drinking water
and many such things. Now they have started asking. With your
ancestral glory you can pull on for some time - that was what Congress
party was doing all these years - Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi
and so on.Regional interests, religion, caste play a bigger role than
earlier days. Congress name sake is a monolithic party, no regional
leaders,only chieftains and power centres. It is very difficult to
name 5 good Congress leaders. Other organisations change their party
names - Congress is using that name for brand advantage. Policies of
most of the parties are same.

from:  Gopalan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 16:46 IST

I appreciate Mr. Harish Khare’s forthright analysis on what’s ailing the Congress party. It is true that the congress party’s image has taken a severe drubbing in view of several scams that have arisen. Unfortunately, the other parties like and BJP and the Left have not risen to the occasion. All parties seem to be beset by several weaknesses such as lack of inspiring leadership, lack of internal democracy, preoccupation with immediate electoral gains rather than having a broader vision. In view of the fact that a healthy political system is essential for a speedy development of a nation, it can only be hoped that political parties in India seek to purge of their weaknesses and resolve to give good governance.

from:  Sreehari Pusuluri
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 16:27 IST

Nicely written article, i completely agree to the fact that the growth
and prosperity of the country depends on How fast the major political
parties like congress and BJP wipe out their anti social and corrupt
elements. I also feel it will be impossible for any 3rd front to form a
stable government(regional parties will have their own regional interest
than interest of the country as a whole). Hence the welfare of the
country totally depends on how the major parties shape up their cadre .

from:  rakesh
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 16:18 IST

The word Congress spelt magic won Independance under Mahatma, BUT later it was NOT dissolved as per his advice; cronies took over ! Nehru established family rule, perpetrated by his dtr Indira as a dictator ! PITY. Sardar Patel, Rajaji and other greats never indulged in promoting family - Lal Bahdur Shastri was also a gem; NOW Indians' Fate is in total disaster like British rule (or worse with Italian control Indians holding on to her pallu) with no moral values! Rajiv was a pilot of insignificance, ushered into politics for dynastic succession, having got rid of Sanjay who was active and energetic, thanks to Italian mafia machinations, that is confirmed by SIT officials still alive - strange turn around.
We are faced with bleak prospects with criminals and corrupt to core so called leaders taking charge; no way we can have TRUE democracy God alone can help us get rid of this -when and how, I wonder!

from:  Radhik Hairam
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 16:02 IST

Why one needs to bother about congress first? Why not to think about the nation and then think what is going to help India? It all appears Indian media is running for sake of Congress and not for sake of India. Judge the merit of policies and not the party.

from:  Avinash Baranwal
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 15:46 IST

Obseravaton in 1995 are totally irrelevant. So much change has taken place on handling economics, people’s behviour… within India. Global changes in economic & military balance, Windows application, internet, mobile…. The author had positioned himself on a wrong pivot &fulcrum. The hallow and emptiness of congress working is exposed but how much truth could be swallowed by them is the question? The country is too much short circuited for any good to happen from the people of the present system. How could One see the mess in which they are in. It would be awfully difficult to extricate the past sins committed by the politicians on the people of this nation who sacrificed the national interest for personal gains. We are drawing a wrong history being very ‘reactionary’ to problems of life and society, Being caught in vicious cycle of placing mistrust. We have to rise that needs a heart &a open mind Pandit Nehru from Congress also chose dishonest means; viz Muthuramalinga Thevar

from:  Sastri Arunachala
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 15:45 IST

The only solution to incredibility of congress party is that it should be free of Nehru Gandhi dynasty. The leader of the party should be elected on the basis of experience and capability. Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi have no experience. There is no shortage of experienced leaders in congress. Corrupt political leaders should be shown the way out. There should be long term policies for the welfare of the people with effect and proof. People like work and good governance not dynasty or personal cult.

from:  Mahesh
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 15:29 IST

Very nicely written.I appreciate ur honest view that Rahul gandhi will become Party head after Sonia Gandhi.No matter how much people hate Rahul or want democratically elected candidate.This is just the truth which we need to face, given Congress is Supreme party in India and always will be.Hope someday we really get democratic.

from:  Ankit
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 15:10 IST

I painfully agree to ideas shared by the writer. From historical experiences of non-congress union government's , and absence of any other option , it is better to have a Congress govt. Though federal ambitions of regional parties are not incorrect, but they shall not be pursued at cost of Union dreams. Congress may not be an ideal choice, but currently it is only choice.

from:  Milan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 15:03 IST

The author seems to be living in a utopian world. The author has conveniently quoted Madhu Limaye so that he can ignore the 6 years of solid governance by BJP at the center and its ability to govern the country without compromise.

BJP was ready to lose the power rather than accommodate A Raja in the cabinet (which was cited by MK as the reason citing him to be a Dalit but the world knows now what his credentials are). Yet the party that is ready to compromise everything in the name of coalition dharma is seen by the author as a nationalist party is a matter of ridicule.

He wants organisational elections but still Rahul Gandhi as the party leader. He seems to be ignorant of the fact how Sonia Gandhi became the party chief. Sitaram kesri was locked up in the toilet so that he cannot contest against sonia gandhi and became an "undisputed leader". He may be a trying to push the congress agenda through hook or crook. No wonder The Hindu sacrifices media space for such propaganda.

from:  vijay
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 14:58 IST

Unless severe punishment to the anti Indian party and its netas is done
no public faith can be restored. Most of its netas deserve to be hanged
in public. This criminal Party of India is responsible for dividing the
nation in the name of religion, caste, and vote bank politics. These are
crimes for this party to be banned from Indian system.

from:  vijen
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 14:21 IST

This article is really unfortunate, to say the least. While I support
reforming of political parties without doubt, this approach of the
author to glorify Congress as India's only saviour by using the time
frame of circa 1995 (till then India hadn't seen a stable non-Congress
5 year government) to further his view that only Congress is justified
to be in government is a pointer towards our society, where many still
think that past legacy is enough to justify future benefits. BJP too,
as an organisation, disappoints me. Chances of Third Front too scare
me. But this doesn't mean they can never be able to run a government.
Indian polity is evolving, and evolving pretty well. This article
belongs to 1970s and 1980s. Not 2012.

from:  Ishan Dewan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 14:01 IST

1. promote merit and competence, not-dynasty, 2. give due-respect to
mass-leaders and allow them to rise to national level, 3. Do for 'aam-
aadmi', not just slogans, 4. go back to basics, look at 1885, read
about ideals of gandhi-nehru, 5. don't accept criminals and corrupt as
candidates, 6. accept mistakes and be-humble, people hate arrogance 7.
speak with aam-aadmi in hindi or regional language, not the swanky
english of 5% urban indians, 8. rise above politics of caste and
religion, think of India as a country. Even a layman like me can come
up with these 9 suggestions, I fail to understand, how come top-notch
congress's are not able to see-through these things and not able to
reform themselves to changing times. Probably there is a lack of will
at the top. Anyways, Reform or Perish. 5 years is not a long time in
politics, and every political party gets what it deserves in
elections, perhaps time is running out for INC.

from:  sanjay
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 13:55 IST

Madhu Limye was a genuine veteran politician.In his vision Indian people need,'roti,kapda and makan',can be best served with socialistic pattern of governance.The Congress of today under Sonia and Manmohan has divorced that vision and instead following the capitalistic path of 'free market economy'.The free market of Milton Friedman is questioned in the Western world and is termed ad economic 'holocaust'.This is proved in India since 1991. But Sonia and Manmohan combined do not want to see it.Because their interest does not lay with the welfare of the masses.Their sole preoccupation rests with holding the power and preserving the privileges that power guarrantee.Rahul is being projected as the future leader ,but he is intellectually unprepared for this mantle.Hence there is a vacuum not only in the policy best suited in the context of Indian teaming millions,but also in preparing the party and its leaders to meet such challenges within democratic framework-grassroot party elections.

from:  Prof A N Malviya
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 13:27 IST

What kind of democracy the intellectuals talk about? All they want is a
particular party to win and form the government in each and every
election! No party, no MP, no MLA should be given a continuous 2nd term.
First let us establish a true democracy before moving further. If
Congress is elected for 3rd time consecutively it will be a farcical
democracy. Opposition party also needs nurturing and support from voters
to become a viable alternative. That is democracy.

from:  mvrangaraajan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 13:11 IST

The main weakness of Congress (and of BJP, for that matter) seems to
be the absence of any long term policy framework which can be easily understood by common man, and a will to govern beyond immediate electoral gains. This has produced to some kind of disconnect with the people. This has given rise to other regional parties who are connected with people on issues like caste, language,religion and the like. This is not a good sign for the country , but such is the nature of politics that vacuum created by the absence positive forces is immediately filled by negative forces. In this sense, Congress and BJP have have both disappointed the nation. BJP promised a lot by way of governance , but once in power, succumbed to congressism of the polity. (It is seen that both the parties opposed anti-graft movement of Anna to their utter peril in UP, of course both planting media stories denying any Anna-effect on their elections loss!

from:  Shaturya
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 12:55 IST

The end note about the author omits a very important aspect of his
life; namely that he is a former media adviser to the current Prime
Minister. It is one thing for gullible readers to have gobbled his
[im]partial wisdom that he was dishing out in ample measure in his
earlier avatar, but an entirely different matter for him to return to
his politial analyst role without missing a beat. This man is a
Congress hack, period. All his prescriptions, predilections are
entirely suspect because of that. Congress led UPA rule has been
scandalous (2G,Antrix,Adarsh,Tatra,the list is well documented) for
the last 8 years not because it made "Imperfect policy choices"; but
they are deliberately driven by the "disproportionate gainers". It is
a ridiculous that Khare comes back and shares his impartial advise
after having been part of the loot. If he has any iota of self respect
left he should stop posing himself as an outside analyst.

from:  Srinivasan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 12:08 IST

The argument in this article seems to be undermined by the same dichotomy that
the Congress as a party is faced with. The dynastic rule which ensures that the
party will always have a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family at its helm might
"spare the Congress the kind of convulsions that will continue to buffet the BJP,"
but it also makes the party essentially undemocratic. Indeed the very logic of
democracy makes such a sacrosanct first family an anachronism. If Congress is to
become democratic then where do you draw the line to contain this process? So if
the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is to be regarded as the asset of Congress then its
feudal structure must also be accepted as equally valuable. Both of these are
fundamentally inter-related and both are equally undemocratic.

from:  Sayan Chattopadhyay
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 11:09 IST

Congress is a hopeless one man/women party with no vision for the youth
of this country. One of the reasons of steep decline in the popularity of
congress is YOUNG INDIA. Congress was fooling nation for good amount of
time but now they can't as 67% of Indian population is below 35 years of
age. Much more than enough chances have been given to Congress after
Independence but they have Failed to deliver.

from:  Rakesh Bhatt
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 10:58 IST

The election tips,if assimilated meticulously,may bring cheers to Congress, though certainly not to the crores of Indians reeling under abject poverty,oweing to the econmic policies pursued for two decades,with least priority for mitigating poverty. All its flamboyant rhetoric stagnate at the root. As both Congress and BJP have failed miserablity to ensure economic growth with special care to uplift poor,a third alternative alone will alone show the way.

from:  C.Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 10:48 IST

What the author has done here is cheap. Using the thoughts of a Nationalist who wants a stable, strong party at the center, and coercing it with his own agenda of hailing Nehru-Gandhi family. RG has failed miserably in all his campaigns, he does not have a firm thought on any of the national issues, yet when it comes taking office its his birth right. Are we still in a democracy. Never for once does the author consider that the family itself is the problem. Throw them out and the party will fall into place. As to congress being a "vibrant" party, most of its national leaders are there because of family inheritance. The author's suggestions of improving the appearance of the party may help the congress but will ruin the
country and Madhu Limaye's wishes with it.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 10:31 IST

Great to see a column by Mr.Harish Khare, whose thoughtful writings I always enjoyed though not always agreed with. Because of its recent tendentious writings, I was seriously thinking of cancelling my subscription to the Hindu, which I will have to seriously reconsider with the return of Mr.Khare. I hope that he will be writing regular columns like the present one which are very relevant and necessary in our national discourse which is terribly polluted by the shouting matches on 24 Hour TV news-channels.

from:  Alexander Mathew
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 08:41 IST

It is just too late. Corruption of the highest order has taken over the Party. There is no unity, no logic in what they do.Dynastic politics has failed and the younger generation wants radical changes. The fact that a large number of MPs and MLAs are criminals only makes the public doubt the Party's aims. A new set of young politicians are required who should be groomed to work for the people. This may take a while. In the interim a benign dictatorship is the requirement. The Defence Services are the best people to provide this option.Much to the opposition of people like the author who seems to be in a dream world, this is the only solution to solve the maladies of this country.

from:  S N IYER
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 07:58 IST

Disintegration happens to be the keyword with the Indian National
Congress ; nothing new with the GOP of India ever since 1947 ,at least
! After Nehru what ? used to be the famous slogan ,often discussed &
debated in the streets & market places all over the country? Morarji
Desai ,Indira Gandhi, Syndicate ,Indicate etc stood apart ,quite
distinguishably. The Congress party believing in ''unity in diversity'
has lived with it ever since the Late PM Indira Gandhi took over the
reins of the divided party; renaming it as Congress-I,its flag with
open hand in place of its regular symbol that of spinning wheel in the
Tricolour. No big deal : A billion plus heads can afford to have so
many parties,groups,sub-groups ,allies,communes ;even crowds to fight
elections on the basis of religion,caste,sub-cast,OBC,SC ,ST,
language,region,area,illiteracy & scores of other hands in glove types
during & after elections ,only to regroup when the money changes
hands ,right from the time of the late PM Narsima Rao, belonging to
Andhra Pradesh. However,gone are the days when there existed real
Congress, led by stalwarts & its other bold & brave selfless great
leaders who commanded lot of respect from the masses;even they were
worshiped in the rural areas! Almost the whole country was divide
communally to press for independence from their British Masters. So,
let the flow of new & bizarre politics of the 21st century ,the
upcoming generation make its own natural path, like a seasonal
stream--let during the rainy season . God bless India. Let
us,therefore, wait for the expected change for the better :may happen
in 2014, hopefully : Change being the law of the nature!

from:  avtar chauhan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 05:10 IST

The author would have us believe that Congress despite all its faults
should be allowed to stay on as the alternative as per his assessment
is chaos. The logic would do good even in the case of asking Gaddafi
to stay on in Libya or Bashar Al Assad to continue his bloodbath in
Syria because the alternative there too it seems would be chaos.
What the author is however forgetting is that mere lack of options
cannot be a reason for supporting continued mis-governance and
dynastic politics that is literally being shoved down our throats in
the form of Rahul Gandhi. And expecting Congress to reform itself is
like asking a crow to overnight turn into a swan. A party whose
hierarchy is based on sycophancy and boot licking of the revered
Gandhis can't change its colours.
What internal democracy can you expect when the party head herself is
undemocratic. The case for the Congress is hopeless. After 4
successive generations trying to shove down a 5th won't be accepted.

from:  Piyush Tariyal
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 03:42 IST

It is time for the Congress to focus on the one thing that the "Am Admi' admires about Nitish Kumar or Navin Patnaik. India has achieved an impressive growth through some excellent policies and initiatives of Dr. Singh. This should be the main message. It is of secondary importance to trot out the Gandhi family because the Congress stands for a lot more than the family. India,is highly respected in the World and most Indians credit Dr. Singh's Government. The Congress must sell this 'feel good' story. There is no serious secular opposition and hence the Congress should ignore the BJP and focus on its own message. Ram Manohar Lohia saw this over two decades ago!

from:  karur
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 03:27 IST

I blame only myself for reading this. I wasted 10 minutes of my life irrevocably. I should have known better but I was really hoping for some
balance in the article. A pity that we are force fed such opinions, all
because The Hindu is (was?) the only respectable news source down South.

from:  Rangasayee S.
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 01:57 IST
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