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Mainstream, VOL LII No 27, June 28, 2014

Congress and Pandava Legacy but Pandavas had no private High Command

Saturday 28 June 2014, by T J S George


Meanwhile, what’s happening in the Congress-ruled States? In the gush of the Narendra Modi cultural revolution, we tend to forget that some States are still under govern-ments with the High Command mindset. Mallikarjun Kharge scored a debating point with his valiant reminder that the Pandavas got the better of the numerically formidable Kauravas. In defence, Narendra Modi could only quote Duryodhana which further empha-sised Kharge’s point. However, Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre moral codes reigned supreme; there was never any question of a High Command answerable to no one. Today even servile Congressmen know that it was the High Command culture that made the general public disgusted with the Congress. The party may indeed live to fight another day. But the idea that a family has the right to rule a billion Indians has come a cropper. The High Command is a dead horse.

Politeness demands that we should not flog a dead horse. But management gurus have a different take on the subject.

They say, and not entirely in jest, that there are at least 21 strategies that can be considered when a horse is dead.

Three or four will suffice to give us a feel of the strategies proposed. For example: appoint a committee to study the horse; go on a world tour to see how others ride dead horses; start a training course to improve riding skills; get high quality whips for flogging.

Flogging the rider who flogged the horse to death would be the most logical thing to do. The BJP is counting on the Congress not to consider this as an option despite disgruntled voices here and there. It knows one more thing about the Congress—that this is a party that will learn nothing from experience. This explains the BJP’s slogan: Achche din aanewale hain. The Congress believes that achche din never left it since it remains in power in a few pockets as a hangover of previous elections.

What a dreadful picture those pockets present. In Maharashtra which goes to the polls in four months, the Congress is in a mess. Prithviraj Chavan has proved that it is not enough for a Chief Minister to be clean; he also has to be strong and calculating and daring. Minister Rane has openly rebelled and stopped attending Cabinet meetings. As for Sharad Pawar’s NCP, a partner in government, the good days are over primarily because of nephew Ajit Pawar’s arrogance and publicly expressed contempt for ordinary people. Similarly, Raj Thackeray’s hooliganism has lost its bite, leaving the original Shiv Sena the only claimant for parochial loyalties. Its alliance with the BJP will be the most likely beneficiary in the coming Assembly elections.

Haryana’s Congress Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda lost all credibility after the Robert Vadra land scandals hit the headlines. The Congress got only one out of ten seats in this election compared to nine last time. He too is being openly attacked from within, the leader of the rebellion being Kumari Selja, famous for her closeness to Sonia Gandhi.

In the South, Karnataka and Kerala have been the Congress’ bastions. Chasing scandals that led to his imprisonment, B. S. Yeddyurappa gifted Karnataka to the Congress. Lacking the will to govern, the Congress is in the process of gifting the State back to the BJP. Tainted leaders have deprived the party of the credibility it could have won. Besides, a Congress Minister campaigned to defeat a Congress parliamentary candidate. The tragedy is that there is no third choice for the good people of Karnataka.

The same tragedy faces the good people of Kerala. The current Congress Government triggered more scandals than any Congress Government in the past—which is saying a lot. Voters would have easily handed power back to the traditional alternative, the CPI-M and its allies. But the CPI-M has run into an unprece-dented wave of public revulsion. With a history of leaders who were darlings of the people, the party is led today by a person who is perhaps the most disliked political figure in the State—disliked for his haughtiness, his strong-arm policies, his foul language. The Congress, with all its warts, is safe with a CPI-M that digs its own grave.

Is little Kerala going to be the mighty Congress’ only refuge by default? The answer will depend on (a) whether Modi will fulfil popular expectations, and (b) whether comm-unal incidents will be nipped in the bud or allowed to spread through a conspiracy of inaction. Wait. Watch. Hope.