As more evidence emerges on the Congress ‘tool-kit’ designed to attack the government and, in particular, Prime Minister Modi, a behaviour pattern becomes even more distinct. If a political party’s focus shifts from promotion of its own ideology and specific causes to just targeting the government in whichever way possible, it leads to a dangerous loss of perspective. The interests of the nation and the people can become secondary and even be harmed by such an approach. A good example of this is Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s eagerness to get ahead of the curve on protecting children from Covid-19 to the extent that he did not care to check if what he was saying was true, or its likely impact on Singapore. There is no doubt that backroom operatives are working overtime in the Congress to study trends so that Rahul Gandhi, in particular, comes out looking like some savant. There is obviously no harm in trying to polish his considerably tattered image, but the context and the content are too often misplaced. Instead of being directed at the general good, it only comes out sounding like petty vindictiveness, thereby defeating the purpose.
It is also true that the Congress does not have much political space to manoeuvre within in the present situation. It is in power directly only in three states, while performing as the tail in some ruling coalitions. Rather than build on this shrinking base, the compulsion is to project Rahul Gandhi as the alternative to PM Modi. The task becomes even more difficult because this dynastic leader almost entirely lacks the charisma and the political acumen of his chosen rival. He is unlikely to be the leader of a united opposition either before or after the general elections. The only basis for the leadership claim would be to have more seats than the other opposition parties. This is very unlikely because in most states the primary opposition comprises the regional parties.
So, merely targeting Modi even at the cost of credibility cannot be an effective strategy for the Congress, but is continues to persist. Unfortunately, at the time of a national crisis, it is also damaging the nation. If this realisation sinks into the people’s psyche, it would scuttle any hopes of the party making an impact on the electoral scenario. Hopefully, the strategy will be re-examined after the latest embarrassment.