Prof N.K. Singh
Former Chairman International Airports Authority of India
Famous Chinese General Sun Tzu once laid down in his book ‘Art of War’, “If you know yourself and not the enemy you will lose every alternative war but if you don’t know the enemy and yourself you will lose every war”. Fourth major fault in the party lies in its inability to elicit participation of regional and local leaders, which renders it ignorant of ground situation. It cost the party North East and other states where those who left the party to taste success in the BJP bitterly complained about inaccessibility and opacity of the High Command.
Take the case of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh was not being openly touted as Chief Ministerial candidate in the beginning. Navjot Singh Sidhu was in between sought after as new hope for the party till Captain put his foot down. Why could not Captain be identified as fit to lead from the front as CM candidate from the very beginning? Avoidable confusion and hazy steps finally blunt the weapons of war. The Congress could have got absolute majority had it been clear in strategy and fast in action. Real reason was that Congress did not know in reality its own strength or weakness nor did it know the strength and weakness of the enemy. The Congress must open the doors of communication and allow regional leaders greater say.
It is difficult to conclude from Punjab case that regional leaders should be left free to perform. Both Punjab and Himachal and other states had examples of success and failure of the leading chiefs. In Punjab, Captain himself lost despite his confidence in the last election when no one expected Akali-BJP alliance to win. The same had happened earlier when Virbhadra Singh lost to P.K. Dhumal. Even now in spite of complexity of situation by entry of AAP,
Alliance got substantial votes and more than AAP. Real secret of successful strategy is marrying regional aspirations with central command. But to command, the centre must display sagacity and competence.
Fifth flaw in Congress is failure in organisation building and dependence on loyal courtiers. There is no involvement of grass root workers and genuine elections for internal democracy. In fact, the party is working as a commercial company but without genuine board of directors and shareholders. It is more or less a family company. There is a lot of criticism of the party due to dynastic nature of its succession but I consider it not as lethal damage to the democracy as failure to hold meritocracy above board in the working of the party. The Congress has failed to groom young leaders and sustain old trust worthy guiding lights. All their leaders including chief ministers are under a cloud as most of them are charged with scams.
There is no effort to bring in clean and transparent leaders to take over in the party. With the result, the same tarnished people who have lost credibility are being projected as defenders of the party issues. Rahul Gandhi made a sincere effort on text book solution for transparent elections and brought in J.M. Lyndgoh who was known for his integrity. But all his effort went in vain as system had become full of manipulations.
I am witness to the cases where no organisational election is held but results are declared because some influential leader has brazen pluck to forge results even when district returning officer stated in writing that no election was held. Worse when an appeal was filed to high command, which has to dispose it off in 30 days, there was no response for years. The higher ups are indifferent to party workers grievances and appeals. There are internal quarrels in the districts and blocks but no one makes effort from the top to settle this. Inner fights continue and almost all districts have such vocal dissenters. The party workers have now learnt to put up with injustice and brazen dadagiri of influential leaders especially in remote areas. The system of grievance redress and appeal is defunct and its own party constitution is dead. Should the party not revive the justice and fair play? Should honesty and commitment to ideology not be promoted? Should the Congress not value and respect capable people of proven merit in the organisation? My reading is that party organisation in most of the places is dead and we need to re-build it. Simply calling names to Modi will not demolish him and give strength to the Congress as no one likes it. I wrote to high command how the organisation is not responsive but no one bothered. This apathy has to be ended and inner democracy, not autocracy of a few, needs to be revived. But will Congress do it or bite the dust?
April 15th, 2017