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An Open Letter to Congress President

 


 

RAWpapaya
by Satya Pal Singh-fnbworld

 

 

 

 

Sonia-Rahul
Gandhi-fnbworld

 

 

Respected Madam Sonia Gandhi,


I am deeply shocked to learn that you and Rahul Gandhi as Congress supremos have decided not to campaign for the byelections due in Uttar Pradesh on September 13, although you have fielded 35 star campaigners for the job. Your spokesperson Ajay Maken took pains to explain that top party leadership does not campaign in byelections ‘by covention.’ But a number of Congress loyalists, who have been religiously voting for your party for years, don't seem to view this policy in right spirit and perspective, especially after your party was decimated in recent Lok Sabha elections.


Party policy apart, general impression is gaining ground that the massive poll drubbing has driven you and Rahul compulsively wary of facing the voters, especially in the country's northern belt. Embarrassment and low esteem, it is increasingly felt, has caused you skipping campaigning for byelections in UP. Neither you, nor Rahul, nor Priyanka Vadra find it suitable to traverse the rustic fields of the state because you see them wholly unproductive, 'retributive' and non-complying. What your spokesperson says, in explanation of your reluctance to campaign for the aspiring party nominees, makes the common men genuinely confused.


Your party's stand is seen as untenable, wholly dwelling on untruth and the sly. What then, respected madam, was so special about the 2009 bypolls in UP when Rahul Gandhi steamed out of his closet to storm the Samajwadi citadals in the state. Your party's Raj Babbar had then trounced SP's Dimple Yadav, wife of now CM Akhilesh Yadav. Top Congress leadership had campaigned in byelections earlier too from Indira Gandhi onwards. Thus, clearly, it seems wholly unbecoming of the oldest national party to fall off the pedestal so steeply. Why should hangover of the defeat turn nasty for the party if its leadership chooses to escape the embarrassment of addressing poll rallies, risking hooting and public jeers?


Then, why is Rahul Gandhi, who raised the secular-vs-communal debate during Lok Saba poll campaign and subsequently in Parliament, is showing reluctance to take his committed stand to the public, which takes the final call on such issues? This indifference, clearly, appears influenced by Lok Sabha poll debacle, which made average Congressman to sit up and introspect where the things had gone wrong. So, when eye-brows are raised over the top Congress leaders' absence from bypoll rallies, there remains much to explain. Is Rahul gradually withdrawing from his day-to-day political engagements, because he finds himself a reluctant politician like his father Rajiv Gandhi?


Rahul Gandhi is known to have done his best for the party, from organizing its cadres to 'training' them, to meet the challenges of the modern political systems-- albeit with limitations of his managerial potential. But a hopelessly poor response from the masses apparently shook his confidence in public life and put question marks on his political acumen and personal abilities.. It's here, Rahul needs to take a few lessons from his sweet grandma, who reflected so beautifully on bad times : "You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in response." She believed political defeats were temporary and took such short-lived losses close to martyrdom. She said even "martyrdom does not end something, it's only a beginning." It was frightening for her to have lost the poll battle in 1977 to Janata Party. But she hardly went beyond the veil, boldly faced humiliations and roared back to power in the 1980 mid-term poll. That she seldom withdrew from the front and presented a picture of exemplary courage and resilience now comes to serve you as an inspiration and ameliorative guide.


Political maturity demands that a party must take every electoral battle with high stakes. Therefore, it's time for you to go back to the people as serious contenders, effectively highlighting the infirmities of your formidable rival parties. Both SP and BSP leaders are now as morally demoralized as they are poorly equipped, after being mauled in the last general election. Even BJP, which swept the Lok Sabha poll recently, has to offer some solid programmes for the 11 constituencies going to the byelection. But their limitation is that they can't do much as the Mulayam Singh party is ruling there. At best, some Centrally-sponsored schemes can create some momentum for the saffron party. Even though assembly elections are far off, BJP has to look in fine fettle, united and performing at the Centre before the call comes for general assembly polls. Besides, they will have to find a strong leader who may be suitably projected as their chief ministerial nominee. 


Madam, BJP's most noticeable weakness is that the party has not been able to find a popular, energetic and relatively younger leader in this largest state of the country. The old guard looks visibly tired. Former state CM and present Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, though honest and upright with his sound credentials, finds himself awkwardly placed in the midst of jumbled caste equations. His Thakur caste has proved bane for his career in own state, even though BJP's rival parties have repeatedly disappointed the people, having terribly flopped in putting the state on the road to recovery and development. If anything, their leaders, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati have been presiding over corrupt, inefficient regimes. 


Therefore, it's not that Congress has lost all. You must vigorously enter the poll arena fighting to recapture your lost pie. Apparently the party, presiding over the UPA dispensation at the Centre, put up a sham, listless performance that discredited your leadership and was thrown out of office. But our electorate remains all too prone to giving  some extra space to every political formation, when certain parties play cheats and rob trust of the people. I personally feel you and your son must emerge from the shadows to recover your political ground. You must look to be very active and lively in the game.


Our democracy needs strong opposition, both at the Centre and in the states to keep the right tab on ruling combinations. If the UPA regime was taken for a ride by its own ebullient, self-centered, corrupt ministers aided by some greedy bureaucrats, it was because your leadership had become too obsessive of the prime minister and lay in weight to encroach upon PMO's functioning, having scant regard to the basic political and administrative propriety. Uncontrolled, self-righteous  ministers then had a field day in recklessly causing policy paralysis and corrupt environment for governance. Even the PM found himself rudderless and was forced to succumb to pressures from corrupt lobbies; the obvious alibi was the minority UPA regime.

 

Congress has to clean its slate and write it all over again. But this will not be possible if your leadership painfully squirms into the remote corner of a bungalow in dejection and shies away from the people and the polls, leaving the party turf open to opponents. Congress has to be serious on byelections. Madam, you face a massive challenge which must be met with grace and matching prowess. But there is no place for greed and corrupt practices if you want to get back at the helm.


 

Power in India can flow back to any party if its leaders are straight, honest, well-meaning and performing. Caste equations will die down if the voters find leaders of a particular party honest, efficient and people-friendly. Who says Congress is a spent force? Uttarakhand electorate has amply demonstrated this. A clean sweep for BJP in the general election and then a 'cleaner' shock for it in subsequent local polls! Nothing is permanent here. Madam, just go and address your party meetings in UP. Cast off your embarrassment and be with your people!






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