“A leader can’t lead until he knows where he is going” – This quote from the American TV series ‘Lost’ very much reflects the current situation in India. Whether it is COVID19 or Unemployment or Economic Crisis or the border issue with neighboring countries, Our leaders don’t seem to have any clue about where we are heading to. While I say this, don’t take it completely on the ruling BJP or Narendra Modi, it is very much applicable to India’s opposition. They forget the ground and are busy playing Twitter Politics! And that’s something we, as a responsible citizen, should be concerned about; Absence of an efficient check-system in a democracy can seriously damage the ‘hope’ of its people. And hope is a dangerous thing to lose!
What we go through is unprecedented and the country badly needs an active political mechanism to defend the constitution, listen to its people, and raise their voice. Unfortunately, we do not have such an active mechanism now. The opposition, mainly Indian National Congress, doesn’t seem to be bothered about it. They are reluctant to listen and engage. The other opposition parties like BSP, SP, and left parties are not as active as they were on the UPA regime; either they don’t want to do it or their root level system is burned (or bought!).
India need Congress – Does Congress feel the same?
Not just COVID, in the overall picture, India’s economic base, employment sector, and even national security are on a slide. The constitutional procedures are continuously threatened. The effect is very much felt in everyday life; People are suffering. A rejuvenated and resurgent Congress party, as a strong opposition is the need of the hour. The whole country realizes that and they raise their voice for the same. But still, Congress doesn’t act! Even after a series of electoral setbacks, they don’t learn or realize the importance of a timely political decision! Their major action (Or the only activity) seems to be ‘Tweeting’ these days!
“I am going much more into listening to people and trying to understand them” was one of the key points in Rahul Gandhi’s speeches during the last election. And still, he repeats the same idea and it is in fact, one of the most hopeful things to hear from a national leader. But in reality, it seems just a ‘catchy quote’! He or his party doesn’t seem interested in listening to the country or its people; or even to the leaders of the Congress party! Many tried their best to reach out and have already left Congress! Many who tried and failed are now silent and may leave soon! Remember Late Sheila Dikshit who went to see Rahul at his residence, But the door remained closed and she had to go back; Now even if Rahul wants to correct it, it just can’t be done!
Some like Sanjay Jha, Shashi Tharoor, Salman Soz, etc. still try their ‘luck’ and repeatedly raise their voice for a more active Congress party system and immediate action. There are strong suggestions for the action plan. Party workers across the country are trying their best and look forward to an active president and team, who can instill energy and blood to the root levels – But Congress or Rahul doesn’t seem to be responding to it. It has been almost a year since Sonia Gandhi was forced to be ‘Temporary President’! The decision-making body, Congress Working Committee (CWC) has been bogged down by transactional political imperatives! Absence of speedy response to compelling political challenges and the absence of a clear road map! – The problems are clearly visible and have bee continuously pointed out by responsible leaders, But Solutions? No, nothing yet!
Rahul Gandhi might have the reason of ‘He is not responsible as he resigned’ – But in a political system like Congress, that’s never an excuse. You can’t just abandon people and ideas halfway, just because of an election failure! You have a responsibility to the 27% Votes that trusted you! Finish what you began, or at least ensure that things are in safe hands before you become a ‘free-individual out of responsibilities’. If Congress system is not able to find a new president even after one year, the previous president is also responsible.
Remember, 62% of the Indian population is out there in the streets& Villages, NOT on Twitter or Facebook!
The major action of India’s main opposition leaders is limited to ‘Tweets’ and Interviews and Social Media engagements. They are good and continuous alerts are very much essential in the digital age. Discussions with experts will help many to understand and learn. But that shouldn’t be the only actions from the national leaders, on whom people had (still have) faith.
The internet penetration in India is only around 38%! The twitter accounts in India is only around 13 Million! Remember Devika; the school student in Kerala who recently committed suicide as she was not having a smartphone to attend the online class? There are millions of Devikas in India! Or in other words, 62% of the Indian Population is ‘Devikas’! They are out of this ‘Digital Revolution’! Tweets don’t reach them! They can’t retweet or comment! They can’t listen to the ‘expert talks’! They struggle to survive and they want leaders, a strong opposition to listen to their problems and raise a voice.
For them to listen, engage, and find solutions, there should be discussions in their village, their streets. For that, Leaders have to step out of their comfortable room, hop in a car or train and travel to their place. To know how the hike in fuel price affects the common man, go and speak to a taxi driver. To know how difficult is the life of Tribal community, try a padayatra through North East and other tribal areas. If you can’t do that, at least ensure strong leadership and decentralization. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. The leaders who are supposed to ‘listen’, continue to engage in their comfort zones, forgetting the common man out there, who faces the harsh reality of daily life!
The majority of Indian Media has already failed and chosen the side. Fake news and propaganda discussions is their ‘reality’ – But that doesn’t mean the people out there are totally bought! Forget their ‘remarks’ and focus on the people. Leave what they report, and ensure that people know you and your actions. The roots of Indian Democratic system is still alive and can take you deep if you are willing.
If you look back, The opposition parties were much better performing when UPA was in power. BJP and Left parties organized many mass protests and rally’s against Government policies and raised the issues. For instance, Take the case of fuel price hike, how many street protests, marches, and even bandhs were organized by the opposition parties? Since 2014, has the Congress organized any such movements or protests? They have tweeted and created Social media posters; Bt has they hit the streets? NO! The same is the case with Left parties; they were vigilant and more active when Congress-led UPA was in power.
Few rallies ahead of the election will not work in a dynamic ground like India. It needs continuous engagements and active involvement. Only a timely decision-making process and mass movements will bring results. That’s a well-known fact and everybody has been reminding the same to defend the drift. But as said above ‘Listening’ and ‘Introspection’ are just catchy words for some, they don’t really mean it!
If you doubt, look at upcoming Bihar and West Bengal elections – BJP’s Amit Shah has already finished one round of ‘Virtual Rallies’; Opposition, Congress, is still clueless. Do not wonder if BJP comes to power in West Bengal, they are really working for it (Disagree with their ideology, but their quest for practical politics in incomparable). Or to have a few positive self-learning lessons, look at Karnataka Congress; After DK Sivakumar took charge, the state congress is in real action. Look at Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan, the issues he raises, and the way he indulges brings real results. And in fact, it is because of few such leaders like Bhupesh Bhagal, Gehlot, Amarinder, Srinivas BV, etc that Congress is still alive!
It’s not a blanket criticism. During the COVID crisis, Congress has shown the real spirit. Their governments in Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, and Punjab performed well in providing financial aid and helping people. Youth Congress workers and their leader Srinivas has been on ground 24*7 to support the migrant workers. Rahul Gandhi had some good discussions and suggestions to the Government – it’s good and hopeful to see such engagements.
But as India’s opposition party, as the grand old party which upholds Nehruvian ideology, it isn’t enough. The problems to address and to be solved are much more and with the irresponsible attitude of the BJP government, it’s going further deep. People are desperate and they need stronger, more humane leaders to tell their problems – For that, Congress has to set their house in order, have a timely acting mechanism, and step out into the real world. Slogans should be echoed in the Streets, Not Just on Twitter! Do not delay; Remember, Like in Comedy, Timing is very important in politics.