After its successful denial of power to the BJP in Maharashtra, the Congress was expected to be on something of a roll. However, with the pathetic show by its first family at the ‘Bharat Bachao’ rally in Delhi it becomes even clearer that the ‘Aghadi’ is the sole achievement of NCP’s Sharad Pawar. In fact, Rahul Gandhi’s assertion he was not Rahul Savarkar has put an unnecessary strain on the alliance, which already exists only on the basis of sharing power and not so much a common ideology. The ‘common minimum programme’ merely papers over the deep existing divisions and clashing interests.
The Congress continues to be in the same old loop that began with the appointment of Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister. Sonia Gandhi had been sidelined during Narasimha Rao’s prime ministership and she did not want a repeat of the experience. She cannot afford the emergence of prominent leaders commanding support from the political mainstream and is, thus, dependent on a small coterie of family loyalists. The appointment of Kamal Nath as MP Chief Minister is evidence of this insecurity. It has alienated Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is presently testing the waters by sending out mixed signals on his political future to gauge people’s reactions.
Going by the performance of La Famiglia at the rally, it is clear that it does not have what it takes to boost the party’s fortunes. Sonia Gandhi’s Italian accent has got only worse, while Priyanka Gandhi is finding it even harder to conceal her condescending attitude towards the hoi-polloi. Rahul Gandhi not only lacks the instinct to lead, he has easily the worst lot of advisers he could possibly have. They seem determined to consolidate the BJP’s Hindutva votes with their choice of issues and the manner of expressing them.
Even the supposed failures of the Modi Government do not seem to be strengthening the Congress because of its failure to shed its image as a party that compromises on India’s interests. The contrast between the party stand and that of its Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on various issues underlines this. As such, it is difficult at the present for voters to believe it has the ability to ‘save Bharat’. This makes it complicated for those who might want to make it a contender for power at the Centre. Going by the thus far successful Maharashtra experience, being a junior partner in some future coalition is the best it can aspire for.