Now that the hurly-burly is done, what should the primary loser be doing for the future?
Rahul Gandhi got comprehensively outgunned by a much better player, and it is not just Smriti Irani that is being mentioned here. The only smart move he made in the entire election was to relocate to Wyanad. He offered his resignation to Mom in private and it was rejected. He failed to mention this in his post-election press conference. Instead of taking responsibility for the failure, the process has now begun of passing down the blame. Party loyalist Anil Shastri has blamed the state level leaders for the fiasco, and UP Congress Chief Raj Babbar has already put in his papers. Worthies like Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot and Kamal Nath will have their present jobs renegotiated and then get on with protecting their turfs from, both, the BJP and those within their own party. It will occur to them all that having Congress governments in some states is compensation enough. Rahul Gandhi will remain untouched.
How is anybody to take the blame within the party when the strategy for the elections was based on a narrative built by forces external to it – leftist ‘social activists’ and historians, those described as ‘urban naxalites’, and the Oxbridge neo-colonial intelligentsia. There was nothing of the traditional Congress in Rahul Gandhi’s pitch. It resulted in a mix of ‘soft Hindutva’ and socialist giveaways – absolute hypocrisy visible to everybody except those practicing it. In response to this, all the BJP did – as Asaduddin Owaisi has astutely pointed out – was ‘rig the Hindu mind, rather than the EVMs’.
While the Congress is in regret mode, those that it has allowed to manipulate it are already busy interpreting the BJP victory in a manner that gradually corrodes its significance in the minds of followers. A point will be reached when it will be described actually as a revolutionary stage in the process of achieving ultimate victory for ‘progressive’ forces. That is the way they work, but for how long should the Congress be a part of that eco-system? How will it rediscover itself?
This is why many are suggesting that the Congress just roll over and die. It cannot do without the dynasts, but nor can it – in the 21st century environment – move forward with them. Unless it overcomes this paradox, there is little that can be done. Perhaps, as Owaisi has suggested, it should be left to the regional parties to restore the democratic balance in the country.