Both the main political parties of the nation are gearing up for the all-important Lok Sabha elections next year. And for the victory in Mission 2014, the Congress and the BJP have put forth their best bets in the form of Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi respectively. There was clamour in the rank and file of the BJP and the RSS that the next General Elections should be fought under the leadership of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
However, the question here is not about the BJP, but about the Congress. For the Congress, 2014 is possibly the most difficult polls that it is going to fight since the Emergency in 1977 and it is a huge challenge for the grand old party to survive in North India. The scourge of price rise and corruption is petrifying the Congress and most of the party bigwigs, mired in credibility crisis, do not seem to inspire much hope.
In such a scenario, it was necessary for Congress president Sonia Gandhi to take the reins of the party in her own hands and guide it in difficult times. However, Sonia is nowhere in the scene as far as Mission 2014 is concerned. It is Rahul and only Rahul who is occupying the Congress posters. And the party is hell-bent on making its movie a hit riding on the shoulders of this solo hero, whereas it has some strong actors like Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, whose credibility is intact even now.
Thus, it is imperative to question why Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh are missing from the entire election campaigning.
One perception about Manmohan Singh is that he is just killing time. Even if UPA –III forms the government next year, Manmohan Singh in all likelihood will not be the Prime Minister. Moreover, Manmohan Singh is neither a brilliant orator nor does his second term in office have accomplishments which he can flaunt with élan. Also, after his name was dragged in the coal blocks allocation scam, many Congressmen want to stay away from him.
But why is Sonia Gandhi detached from the entire campaigning process? There may be two reasons behind this. Sonia Gandhi is not keeping well and her ill-health may not be allowing her to play an active role in politics. But a more probable explanation is that Sonia has completely handed over the party’s reins to Rahul and having done that she does not want to intervene in Rahul’s strategy.
In the culture of India, mothers are avid to see their sons seated on the topmost echelon of power. Many Indian mythological epics substantiate this notion. In Ramayana, Kaikeyi’s ‘putramoha’ (affection for son) for Bharat is well known. The interesting fact is that even Italian mythology is replete with such stories of ‘putramoha’. In many Italian families, the mother-son bond runs deeper than that in India. A recent survey done in Italy suggests that the reason behind three out of ten divorces in the country is over-interference of the mothers in their sons’ lives. Italian culture is different from European culture and lifestyle. In Italy, even today, women like to stay at home and worry about their sons’ future.
Sonia Gandhi is connected to both India and Italy, and the tradition and culture of both the countries are well known for ‘putramoha’. So, is this ‘putramoha’ the driving force behind Sonia’s distance from the Congress and her crowning Rahul as the party’s all in all? Rahul is taking important decisions without hesitation and is talking in a free manner. But Rahul’s nonchalant demeanour and his explicit remarks have been weakening the party in front of the Opposition. The Election Commission has even demanded an explanation from Rahul on his ISI remarks at the Indore rally.
The Congress has its trump card in the form of Sonia and Priyanka, who can play a big role in election campaigning. In straight words, they can confront the Narendra Modi wave. So, isn’t keeping Sonia and Priyanka away from the election campaign a big political blunder on part of the Congress?
I feel, Sonia Gandhi should come forward on behalf of the Congress. She is an ideal mother, but she is also the president of the oldest party in the country – the Congress party, which has had its own unique ideology and despite talks of being cheated, people have been placing their trust in it. Congress’ secular image and its pan-India presence have been the basis of its existence.
This is the first election in which Rahul Gandhi is playing on the front foot. But, from where will the Congress vice president bring the experience that Sonia has? Sonia’s acceptability works as an adhesive within the UPA, whereas Rahul is yet to prove himself on this front. Today the buzz regarding the Third Front has started to become stronger because some components of the UPA are searching their future in such a front.
Definitely, today, the Congress needs Sonia the most. This is the time for the party to become alert. Sonia’s advisors must ask her to get active and understand the seriousness of the situation before it gets too late. There must be damage-control efforts coming from Sonia before Assembly Elections in the country. For this, Sonia must address at least two rallies - One in Delhi and the second one in any other big city of the country. And in these rallies, Congress must go full throttle and make sure that the crowd does not seem lesser than in Modi’s rallies.
After all, the battle must be interesting. There are two big parties of the country and the claims and promises of both, should be placed before the public in the proper manner. Not only the country, but the entire world has its eyes on the next Lok Sabha elections. These elections must be fascinating. These elections have to be fascinating. But, this will happen only if the Congress puts its heart and soul into it.