A Letter to 12 Tughlaq Lane

Dear Rahul Baba,

I write this letter to you with extreme concern. This Sunday, your party, the Indian National Congress, suffered another debilitating body blow. Losing two of your erstwhile strongholds to your arch-rival, that too, with such a convincing margin is humiliating to say the least.

Since 2013, your party has been routed in six states: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharastra and Haryana. Together they account for 132 Lok Sabha Seats. The Congress won a grand total of 5 seats from here. All are erstwhile bastions. In most of them, you even fell to the third position.

The only vestiges of Congress rule can be seen in the hilly terrains of Uttarakhand, Himachal and the North-East or in the tropical forests of Kerala and Karnataka. The rest is saffron. And this is just a prelude. All will be saffron soon.

The Congress has been obliterated in West and Central India
And still I see no signs of panic. The May 2014 loss seems to have thrown you and the entire party into a stupor. You cannot be hoping for a magic revival of your electoral fortunes by just sitting and waiting for the Modi Wave to recede. Ramchandra Guha once said, “Congressmen without power are like retired faujis. If they don't join some other job, they just sleep off their hangover waiting for their next round of burrapegs and pension.”

Sorry sir, but this time around, the electorate will not bestow upon you the reins of their country’s administration just because of your father. Or your grandmother or great-grandfather. You will have to strive for it yourself. Your party is no longer the default ‘operating system’ in the ‘computer’ that India is. The BJP has taken your place as the central pole of Indian politics.

How much longer will you attempt to cream the holy cow of secularism? Even the minorities are deserting their secure edifices in the Congress for greener pastures in minority-centric parties. Why else would an MIM, parachuting from Old Hyderabad win two seats in Maharashtra? This cow gives only diminishing returns.

In Maharashtra, a state which has always stood with your party, you have touched your nadir. Your argument that the dip in your vote share has been minimal cuts no ice. You contested 288 seats this time around. Despite a 40% increase in candidates fielded, your voteshare has come down by 3%. In Haryana, your voteshare came down to a miserable 20%. Your party, to say the least, is in a pathetic position.

Nor does your party seem to be having the killer instinct or fighting spirit to stay politically relevant. Historically, it has been noted that wherever your voteshare sinks below 20%, the party never regains clout. Maharashtra and Haryana are already treading on this path.

The party workers are already in consternation. They need to be reassured that there is someone to lead them out from this abyss. Given your pedigree (and only your pedigree), they are willing to follow you. They are looking up to your for leadership. All you are showing is reluctance. Once your party workers desert you, you might as well dissolve the party.

Your pedigree also gives you the privilege of wielding absolute command over the Congress ranks. As far as I can see, you have not been utilizing this. Factionalism still doggedly persists in your state units - in Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Haryana. Has there been even an half-hearted attempt to crack down on this slugfest?

Nor is your party even forming much of an Opposition. In Parliament and outside, the regional forces seem to be wielding more clout than your party. Your allies are fast deserting you. Meanwhile, you still remain in a coterie of sorts, unwilling to interact with the very aam aadmi you claim to represent. You still abstain from the use of social media when even your allies like Lalu Yadav are tweeting regularly.

For hours after the elections results poured in, #WhereIsRahulGandhi was trending on Twitter. I do not blame them. You refused to address the media properly. Nor were you campaigning in some corner of the country. I fail to fathom what is going on in your party headquarters at 24 Akbar Road.

India still needs your party. No one wants a redux of the United Front. Regional parties do not have a national outlook. That is against their very ideology. The Congress is the only alternative.

After the debacle in the 2013 Assembly Elections, you promised changes in the Congress that one cannot imagine. The 2o crore Indians who reposed faith in the ‘panja’ are still looking forward to them. When you will act on your words?

Yours Sincerely,
A concerned citizen

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