The decision of the Indian National Congress Working Committee (CWC) to give precedence to the country in response to the question whether the nation or the party came first, proves the organisation's political sense of proportion and foresight.
With the 2019 general elections fast approaching, the first Working Committee that met after Rahul Gandhi became the party president evaluated whether the matter was to revamp the party that had deteriorated or to oust the Narendra Modi government that has been leading the country to disintegration. The Committee concluded that they should set out for a 'second independence struggle' for the safety of the political state called India by overcoming the huge crisis the nation faces under the leadership of the central government. For that, the party president has been entrusted with forming an alliance and poll adjustments with different national and regional parties other than the BJP at the right time and situation. In the next Parliament elections, the Congress expects a grand alliance to form a government of secular parties by unseating the BJP coalition that moves ahead with slogans of 'Hindutva nation'.
The decision of the Congress to choose a wise path in a situation when the BJP's politics of hatred has drowned all the compassionate souls of the nation in fear with recurring episodes of mob lynchings and murder threats against freedom of expression, is welcome. It was significant that the Congress president Rahul Gandhi declared in the Parliament that the party upholds a positive politics of amity that is inclusive of everyone contrary to the Hindutwa politics of racial hatred that prompts the people to slaughter each other and drive them away from the country in the name of religion and caste. Rahul Gandhi stated that Congress presented a culture of coexistence and inconclusivess towards all, which is entirely different from the BJP that upholds Hindutwa racism, alienates all others outside that monolithic culture and instigates the unlettered brigade against them – something he publicly displayed too by embracing Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Rahul had also made it clear during the no-confidence motion that there were people in the party and the NDA who were fed up with the big brother mentality of the BJP and its leadership and that the party would move ahead incorporating them as well.
Although much emaciated, the Congress is an organisation that has a nationwide presence in India. Therefore Congress still has hopes to be a strong substitute against the BJP's regressive politics. The only thing is that the party should be conscious about its own weaknesses and the existing political scenario. The Congress was not able to exercise the discretion in forming alliances as it failed to realise the changes to the party as well as the nation during the previous Parliament elections and later during the polls to the Lok Sabha and the assemblies. And as the saying goes, it latched on to the concept that an elephant even if gets thinned down could not be chained in a pen and looked at itself as a trifle big 'one'; that in no small measure did help the BJP achieve its target of Congress-free Bharat.
With Rahul Gandhi becoming the leader and the party president, Congress shows signs of generation change occurring in thoughts, dreams and approaches. It asserts that just because the party has been reduced to 44 seats in the last Lok Sabha elections, it does not mean that Congress presence has shrunk. Also, the party spokesman has himself acknowledged its recognition that the giant endeavour needed to protect Indian democracy can succeed only if it moves along with like-minded parties in a spirit of give and take. The party has begun efforts to form alliances in line with that. Discussions are soon to commence with BSP and Samajwadi Party regarding the polls to Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh assemblies. The plan is to move thence towards a grand alliance.
The alliances that appear as clear possibility are those with Sharad Pawar's NCP in Maharashtra, Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD in Bihar, Deva Gowda's JD-S in Karnataka and DMK in Tamil Nadu. The states posing uncertainties are West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. In Bengal, Mamata has not given her aye for Rahul as front leader. But even there, the Congress is moving forward by making big compromises for big goals, taking a lesson from the Karnataka experience. The political situation is that Modi and his party are in a run by wooing giant private groups and media corporates, aiming to spread the politics of polarization and divisiveness, which puts the country in the grip of subversive politics. But even at such a juncture, there is a large majority of people committed to protecting democracy and secularism against such trends. The signal given by Congress at present is that the party is prepared to take that majority into confidence. If that materializes, not only they but even the country at large will have no reason to be disappointed. Therefore, as of now if the Congress changes for the better, the country too will.