Poll strategist Prashant Kishore and the Indian National Congress have parted ways. In the face of it, it was an amicable agreement to disagree, as PK declined the Congress offer of being part of its new Empowered Action Group 2024 and the Congress fell back on its ‘incremental change’ theory.
In Aesop’s fable the tortoise wins in the long run, beating the lazy hare. In real life, though, tortoises have little chance in an all-out race. If the Congress thinks it can evolve into a hare, or something even better, without initiating an overhaul, it is only fooling itself. There are structural inadequacies, as PK’s presentation has pointed out, and everybody agrees on that; everybody, except those who matter in the party, of course.
It is not just about the Gandhis holding onto the tailcoat of power. It is about the party’s incredible inertia that is hindering progress. When you have a greyhound of an organisation like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the lane next to you, you cannot depend on ‘incremental change’. The race lasts only a limited distance, and definitely not for ages.
There is another important issue to be considered. Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi had long talks with PK – almost 20 hours over three days – and that indicates that there were some points of reference that met her and her party’s standards and were liked. Of course, there will be differences, but what transpired that put the entire proposal in jeopardy? Probably, it was PK’s suggestion that Sonia become party President while a non-Gandhi be made working president of the Congress.
There was a general perception that PK was eyeing the working president chair. In this, though, he would have contradicted his own theory that most members of the party should be elected through either the general election process or through an internal party election procedure. PK is none, and it is highly unlikely that he will be able to muster enough votes anywhere, being the ‘outsider’ that he has been marked up as. Let us be frank. PK can advise on how to win an election, but has, himself, never been directly in the line of fire. These are two very different kettles of fish. To that extent, one cannot blame the Congress.
This ‘marriage’ was not meant to be; possibly would have ended in an acrimonious divorce. That would have been worse than what has transpired as of now. In politics there are no permanent friends or enemies. We will wait to see how things pan out in the coming days.