The national political party that led India to the trajectory of Independence movement, produced revolutionary leaders, fought relentlessly for freedom against the British, and ruled the nation for decades, are facing a severe crisis today. Dissent constantly brews in the inner circle of the party’s membership who apparently have either lost confidence in the leadership or are getting lured by more lucrative positions offered by rivals. Whatever be the predispositions, the lack of staunch agenda by the principal opposition has created a vacuum in the democratic politics of India.
Global events have demonstrated the rise of ethnocentrism and nationalism in the political arena alongside protectionism and anti-globalization fervor in the domain of trade. Similar patterns are being boisterously followed in India as well, where cow vigilantism, hooliganism, anti-secularism tirade, and ruthless political upmanship are causing social disruption. The rise of a dauntless leader with incredible communication skills has become excessively appealing to the public. Narendra Modi’s development agenda and promises have significant credence among the masses, where the latter tend to ignore the social upheaval caused by the rhetoric of right-wing nationalism. Fast-tracked implementation of projects, the launch of a multitude of schemes and a redecorated global image has infused a new wave of energy among the citizens.
Democracy is all about competition and survival of the fittest, where freedom of speech is inevitable. The Indian National Congress, the predominant opposition party has been losing members since the historic 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, their eroding social mass and lack of coherence among their own party base has led to the slow disintegration of India’s oldest national party. Their leadership has to take the blame for this disorder and dis-concordance. Splits in a party might not sound extraordinary, but splits at an unprecedented scale and within such short span of time is beguiling.
Here is a list of prominent leaders who defected from Congress since the elevation of NDA government in 2014:
- Jayanthi Natarajan: Former Union Minister for Environment
- G.K.Vasan: Former Union Minister for Shipping who formed a regional party “Desiya Tamil Maanila Congress”.
- Krishna Tirath: Former Lok Sabha member who joined BJP
- Chaudhary Birender Singh: Senior leader from Haryana who is presently the Union Minister of Steel
- Datta Meghe: A prominent leader from Vidarbha region who joined BJP
- Jagmeet Singh Brar: Former member of Congress Working Committee (CWC)
- Avtar Singh Bhadana: A four time Congress MP from Haryana
- Ranjit Deshmukh: Former President of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee
- Mangat Ram Sharma: Former Jammu & Kashmir deputy Chief Minister who joined PDP.
- Arvinder Singh Lovely: Former Delhi Congress President who joined BJP
- S M Krishna: Congress veteran who joined BJP
- Shankersingh Vaghela: Former Leader of Opposition from Congress in Gujarat
There couldn’t have a bigger jolt than the exit of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar from the Grand Alliance with Congress and swapping government with BJP. He was said to be the sole figure with maximum credibility and public support, capable of reviving the opposition. This only shows the lackadaisical approach of Congress in solving a crisis.
Other than these, many other leaders and hundreds of party workers have already left the grand old party. It won’t be too inaccurate to say that BJP has become a revamped Congress. Most of them had similar grievances like a need for introspection and re-organization in the party, lack of strong leadership and discipline, an absence of a robust agenda and irrelevant working mechanism of the party. However small these accusations may sound, it has led to the slow collapse of Congress. Rahul Gandhi keeps on passing the buck to other without taking full responsibility for these conditions. He hasn’t been able to convince the media or the public of his leadership skills and constantly becomes a laughing stock because of his ill-prepared rallies and speeches. Such is not the leader who can stand against the fearless and lion-hearted Narendra Modi. Also, his party mentors are in no comparison to the contemporary Chanakya, Amit Shah. Old slogans of secularism and values are incomprehensible to the public, no matter how diabolical and sensitive they are. Their escapade against demonetisation failed miserably, leaving the Modi government unscathed. Furthermore, blocking discussions in the Parliament, disruption of House, visits to Presidential palace and press conferences make them look more vulnerable and petty.
The ruling party BJP is undoubtedly using illicit and overboard tactics to ensure defection among Congress members, but that’s not the main point. The main point is that it is working almost in every state. Democracy is not the prerogative of one particular organization, rather a combination of capable political associations who dare to speak and act against each other. Unfortunately, the shape of Indian democracy is not moving in a positive direction. A weak opposition engenders authoritarianism and unrestrained governance. This unpredictability is unsafe for the largest democracy of the world. The Congress Party needs to rise before it turns into ashes.