BY TANVEER JAFRI :Although the Indian National Congress (INC), which was the only leading political party in the freedom struggle, is presently leading the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of India. Undoubtedly today this Congress party is not as strong as it was continuously for forty years after independence of the country.
It is bad luck of the party that this largest political organization of India has been divided more than half a dozen times. It is also notable that the leaders responsible for this division were almost those party leaders who were sometimes proud of the party for the party workers. Besides division of the party, there were so many leaders who left & opposed the party. Main reason behind it was that most of the leaders who left or divided the party were habitual of the Power. They didn’t know how to live without power & how to fight as the leaders of an opposition party. Therefore at the time of crisis on the party there was only way for such leaders to leave the party & to go in the search of power. There were such types of leaders also in the Congress who not only left the party but also left the policy & philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi & joined the right wing political parties having anti Gandhian philosophy.
Indian National Congress became weak to weaker continuously after the assassination of Indira Gandhi & later Rajiv Gandhi. Though the Congress party came into power after their demise but no doubt that was due to the sympathy wave of Indian voters which was developed after the killings of above leaders, & not due to the good working of the Congress party. In such crucial time, Sonia Gandhi, the widow of Rajiv Gandhi, refused to enter in active politics & the Party was run by weak leaders like Sitaram Kesri & Jitendra Prasad & this was the lowest period for the Congress party. Many prominent leaders of the party left the party. And it is not wrong to say that these were the rebel Congress leaders who gave strength to the parties like Bahujan Samaj Party & Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar. The top party leaders like Sharad Pawar & P.A. Sangma launched their separate parties & stood up against the Congress party.
But the time came when Ms. Sonia Gandhi agreed to enter the active politics to strengthen the party. Once again the party workers became active. In few years, Sonia Gandhi took the Congress Party in such position that now once again by winning 145 seats in the Parliament; Congress is leading the UPA government. At the time of formation of the UPA government, first time the world witnessed a historical incident in Indian politics & that was the great sacrifice of Ms. Gandhi, when she denied accepting the post of the Prime Minister of India. Everyone knows that to get this highest post of India, leaders can do anything. The desire of this post is the cause of the communalism, casteism & regionalism being made the public issues by the politicians. But in this political atmosphere, refusal of Ms. Gandhi to accept the post of Prime Minister was historical & can never be repeated in this country.
Anyhow once again, India is going for the general elections for 15th Parliament. In the present political scenario, the ruling UPA has almost broken apart. Main opposition party the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is on back foot after the retirement of Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The BJP, as usual, is trying to communalise the elections for polarization of vote in the name of religion. It is again remembering the name of Lord Rama at the time of elections. But all the secular forces of India, including the Congress party, never want to see the communal forces in power. All these secular forces want to form the government together. It is also necessary for the regional secular parties for their survival that their political space remains intact without losing it to the Congress party. That’s the reason that in big states like Uttar Pradesh & Bihar, these regional parties are contesting the elections against both the Congress & the BJP.
Since last two decades, Indian politics is being directed either by left parties or by other regional parties. On the other side, India’s oldest & largest party, the Congress has lost its old status. But it seems that now after two decades; Congress President Ms. Sonia Gandhi has finally decided to fully organize the party again on national level. This is the reason that in the forthcoming Parliamentary elections, the Congress has not made any alliance with any regional party in Uttar Pradesh & Bihar. The Congress is once again going alone to contest the elections in these two big states which have 120 seats in the Indian Parliament of total 543 seats. Though political analysts say that such type of decision of the Congress party may result in the division of secular votes in these states, & it may result in the gain of communal forces. But the policymakers of the Congress party seem to have taken such decision after much consideration. Now, the Congress doesn’t want to more limit itself as it is since last two decades.
It may be possible that the Congress may not get its benefit immediately. But it is sure that after contesting the elections on maximum seats of U.P. & Bihar, the Congress would establish its organizational bodies everywhere. After 20 years in whole U.P. & Bihar, the party flag & workers would be seen on the roads in these areas. And if not in fifteenth, then of course in sixteenth Lok Sabha, the party would get some positive result. This is the reason that the Congress party is neither propagating any false slogan like ‘Feel Good’ in the public & nor making any national level pre poll alliance, targeting the power of the country. Highly placed sources say that the Congress has made up its mind that if there will be no comfortable majority for the formation of the government; it would better to sit in the opposition.
Though as a winning strategy in U.P. & Bihar, the Congress is providing its candidature to many of those leaders who have left the parties like Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal & the BJP. Many leaders in these are former Members of Parliament or Members of Legislative Assemblies. They have good hold in their respective areas. Only just after declaration of their names as candidates, the Congress Party in such areas has again become active. There is possibility of winning of such candidates too. If this strategy of the Congress succeeds & the party gets more than present 145 seats, then it will be easy for the Congress to form a secular government with the help of other secular forces. And if it is not, then this exercise of the Congress Party is likely to pay it in future positively.