The Indian National Congress is a patient party. It can appear comatose for long and then move to blindside opponents. This ability can also lull it into leaving things too late. The pace of India has changed since the 2009 General Election. Electronic gadgets have imparted urgency to emotion and thought.
Action must therefore be equally swift. The Congress has appeared tardy in the poll campaigns in four states and at the national level. As the oldest party in India, with the longest stint in governance, the Congress has accumulated goodwill and ill will.
Right now there is irritation, anger and even hostility in large measure. From there to the EVM is a short journey. If the Congress wishes to win hearts it will need to make a few amends. This may not necessarily yield a harvest of votes. But a turnaround without it is unlikely.
Here’s the thing. The Congress needs to do it for itself. They must repair because it’s the right thing to do. Not because they anticipate profit.
Here then are 10 immediate corrections the Congress ought to attempt.
1. Declare that Rahul Gandhi is not their prime ministerial nominee. He is not, unless the Congress is grappling with short sight. Every Congress prime minister barring Rajiv Gandhi had previous ministerial stints in the union government. Rahul Gandhi is not likely to ignore this.
So why not state clearly that he is not their man for the top job this time. Much of the anger is because of the impression that he is being foisted on people. Saying he is not may help.
2. Stop harassment of Ashok Khemka. It can’t be that the Nehru-Gandhi family does not know what’s happening with Khemka. Fair play must operate at all times in governance, especially when an officer seeks to inquire into Robert Vadra’s land deals.
Common sense suggests that the Congress, which also heads the Haryana government, should have been ultra careful with Khemka. Vadra is married to Priyanka Gandhi and so Khemka needed support. Not punishment.
3. Formally reject the tea seller can’t be PM remark. Untruth travels fast in Indian politics. I’ve been in gatherings where people have abused Rahul Gandhi for what Naresh Agrawal said.
The Congress has nothing to do with what a Samajwadi Party MP says. It must reject the idiotic notion that the poor don’t deserve to progress. The Samajwadi Party’s support to UPA2 is worthless if it takes India back to the dark ages. A statement in black and white, repeated several times in rallies, is required here.
Image: Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka / PTI