The Indian National Congress’ philosophy was once based on a slogan, sort of, which Mahatma Gandhi had coined. It goes somewhat like this: Congress ka haath, aam aadmi ke saath (Congress hand in hand with the common man). It was supposed to be a campaign slogan and it had been pretty successful over the years, simply because it emphasised social inclusion and the welfare of the common masses.
Times have changed, though, and the struggle for Independence is today a mere happening of the past, according to the youth of today. This slogan, as for such others, therefore, does not seem to call the youth of today to action. Actually, the presence of the Aam Admi Party has created more confusion. That party is supposed be for by and of the aam admi, and it actually works.
The Congress, meanwhile, has just the slogan. The Grand Old Party is basically inert and when it does wriggle out of its shell and tries to ‘work’, internal differences sabotage that effort. It is a self-defeating situation, needing a complete overhaul. The systemic inadequacies of the party have been well documented and commented upon. What needs to be seen is whether any new avenues of growth, any green shoots can be seen anywhere within the old, complex system.
The problem arises when one tries to do that. Sure there are green shoots – and Hardik Patel’s leaving the party isn’t one of them – but the issue quickly sinks into a quagmire as soon as the young leader attains political puberty, so to say. The old guard hates this, cutting him/her ‘down to size’ immediately. The opportunity is lost as soon as it rises.
Remember, the AAP has grown on young heads and shoulders. It derives its intellectual and political powers from fresh ideas from fresh minds. There are not the threats, they are the new party.
How can that be achieved in the Congress? To repeat the same old theorem: either change the head or change the body. Problem is, a change in the body without a change in the head will still not allow easy movement. Change is what Congress must embrace. The party owes it to the country.
And, for all practical purposes, a change at the top seems the only possible solution to this immense lethargy and incompetence. The Congress needs to choose its next step carefully.