Has Congress scored a self-goal by forming opposition alliance?

राम राम जपते रहे , हुए नहीं निष्काम।
मन माया छाया रही, माया मिली न राम।।

1984 was the year when Congress scored a landslide victory in parliament. 400 plus seats was remarkable feat by INC. 40 years later, the grand old party is fighting for survival.

The two things that has gone horribly wrong for Congress in these last 40 years Leadership & Strategy. There is saying in corporate life… You keep doing the same thing & you keep getting the same results. Congress exceptionally allowed poor strategy to repeat itself again & again that led to shrinking of Congress in the country. This can happen when leadership is insecure & sycophants treat them like God.

In this article, we will discuss how a party having 400 plus MPs in the Lok Sabha reduced to 50+ in 2019 elections.

Before going in detail, lets discuss the bigger question for today and that is by partnering with opposition parties, is Congress repeating its strategical mistake one more time & probably the final time because now they can end to a point where there is no return.

So, lets come to the starting point of decline of INC. It was in the year 1985. India was celebrating the supreme court verdict in Shah Bano case. However, under pressure from muslim leaders, Rajiv Gandhi government passed bill in parliament to deny alimony to Shah Bano. This legislation hugely impacted Indian politics & changed it dynamics forever. It caused a race between the opposition parties to secure Muslim votes. Samajwadi party was frontrunner who gone to extreme level of appeasement to secure muslim votes and appeasement became a new narrative in Indian politics.

Ignored by Congress & smaller regional parties…Hindus especially upper cast gradually shifted to BJP. Knowingly or unknowingly, Congress played the crony politics of dividing people. They badly treated muslims as vote banks and because of that the non-existent vote bank of Hindus got its identity in Indian politics.

A few years later, Congress fought UP election in alliance with BSP where BSP was given almost two-third of the seats to fight. Just like SP, BSP also grew in UP at Congress expense. The objective of Congress to fight with BSP was to keep BJP away from power. One who learn from mistakes grow but the one who repeat strategical mistake vanishes with time. And Congress is finished in UP. Congress took similar approaches in West Bengal where it fought minimum number of seats so that TMC can win, and BJP don’t come to power.

Congress lost Delhi also in similar fashion. Post 2013 elections, Congress supported AAP to form the government and what it gained, let looks that it lost Delhi forever.

The point Congress must understand that regional parties SP, TMC, AAP, YSR Congress & other have grown at the expense of Congress. They are eating into Congress votes & slowly wiping out Congress in these states. SP has clear ambition to grow beyond UP so as TMC beyond its own state Bengal. They will use Congress as platform to grow beyond their states.

Before I move to next section, let me tell you that voter behaviour has gradually changed over the years. They are giving decisive mandates & are preferring bi-polar contest. Look at the current scenarios in Indian State, elections are fought between

  1. BJP vs regional parties
  2. BJP vs Congress
  3. Regional party’s vs regional parties.

While Congress objective by forming I.N.D.I.A is to keep BJP away from power, it will have very hard time as this will allow AAP entry into MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat. TMC entry in Goa. And these parties will slowly build footprints in these states at the expense of Congress. There will be no surprise if in next five to seven years they replace Congress as principal opposition in these states.

With Brand Modi intact and NDA becoming more powerful & owning to chinks in Opposition alliance, its more than unlikely that opposition will lose next general elections.

AAP, SP, TMC, RJD will further cement their position in the state as they will get Congress votes. And the grand old party will slip further losing its votes. Cadres will be disheartened & move to other parties.

If Congress must survive & grow, Congress must formulate a long-term strategy to build lost credibility of its leader & party among the people. They must sacrifice power for now & work relentlessly in rebuilding the organization.

Few things that need priority

  • Finding a leader who is stable, strategist and commanding.
  • Build an open, democratic culture where feedback is listened & actioned!
  • Define an ideology for the party.
  • Create a Strategy group to find next gen agenda that resonates with people.

A short-sighted attitude to power will leave it without power & without people in few years. As said by Sant Kabir Das…Na maya milegi Na Ram!!

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