The Assam unit of the Congress is seemingly caught between the devil and the deep sea in the wake of the electoral disaster suffered by the party in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Having been pushed apparently even beyond the political periphery by the BJP, the Congress seems to be left with the only option of talking to the press to establish the point that it still remains a part of the political landscape of the State and the country.
History bears testimony to the fact that in any situation involving victory and defeat, the winner takes all; the vanquished sulks and groans. The ignominious defeat has apparently led to its headlong plunge into the abyss of political wilderness to be gripping in darkness in search of a place and identity in the vast and kaleidoscopic political mosaic. With its back to the wall the Congress leaders of Assam are apparently fighting a battle of political survival while dissidence and revolt within the Assam unit seem to be gaining momentum.
For a better comprehension of the sorry plight of the Congress, it may be recalled that while the nation could clearly witness a Modi tsunami building up in the run-up to the 2014 general elections, the Congress leadership comprising the mother-son duo of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were perhaps among a few across the nation who could not see the impending BJP hurricane aimed at tearing the Congress to shreds.
Significantly, it was during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign that Narendra Modi used the term “Congress-free India”. In line with the Congress leadership of the mother-son duo, the then Congress chief minister Tarun Gogoi too failed to see the rise of Modi like a colossus over the political horizon and made the highly foolish comment that he himself was competent to counter Modi in the electoral battle. The entire approach of the Congress smacked of political immaturity in the superlative degree due to its failure to gauge the pulse of the people caused mainly by its lack of contact with the ‘aam aadmi’. Not that the Congress, including the Assam unit, has grown any wiser in 2019. Wisdom emanates from brains and in political terminology it is think -tank in respect of which the Congress is seemingly steeped in acute poverty.
It is definitely not that virtual doomsday has suddenly cracked upon the Congress from the blue. Indications in this regard have been on since long. In the last two decades or so the State witnessed the socio-economic and political dynamics as well as the mindset of the upcoming generations rapidly changing. In tune with the needs of the times, a new set of political leaders, particularly of the BJP, succeeded in projecting a new brand of maturity that caught the imagination of the new generation of Assam.
The State Congress leadership miserably failed to look beyond the Nehru-Gandhi family centic politics of the party while local issues remained confined to the back burner. All along since 2014 the political scenario was one of BJP dynamics, may be verbal only, versus Congress statics. The result being that Assam witnessed the Congress being routed in 2014, 2016 and 2019. The Congress also lost face in the 2018 Panchayat polls.
Significantly, with the advent of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, not just the political observers but also the man on the street could hear the alarm bell ringing loud and clear for the Congress. The only exception could possibly have been leaders like Tarun Gogoi and the Congress ‘omnipotent’ Sonia-Rahul duo. These leaders failed to realize that the people of Assam, like those in the rest of the country, had made up their mind to say ‘no’ to the dynastic rule any more under the garb of democracy as cast on the people by the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Again, the Congress leadership failed to comprehend that the people could not see any alternative to Modi as the Prime Minister. Unfortunately for the Congress, the party has refused to accept the fact that the body politic of the nation is on the course of undergoing radical changes. It is decades now that the process has begun. But the problem with the Congress lies in the fact that the party is a fiefdom of the Gandhi-Nehru family and even the senior members do not have the guts or the political culture to look beyond the Nehru-Gandhi family.
The result being that the party is being hit by the acutest form of think-tank poverty. Be it Tarun Gogoi, Ripun Bora or Debabrata Saikia – they are all ‘Yes Mam, Yes Sir’ members of the Congress. A democratic milieu demands that these State leaders must assert before the party high command that they know more about Assam and that their views must not be overruled when the subject matter is the State itself. However, it is anybody’s guess as to who could possibly call the shot even when focusing on Assam.
On the other hand the culture groomed and patronized by the Congress since the days of Indira Gandhi is one of sheer opportunism. It was during the Indira era that mass defections were encouraged. The lock, stock and barrel defection of the Bhajanlal ministry from the Janata Party to the Congress when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister would always remain a black spot in the Indian democratic system. Likewise, the conscious circle has not forgotten how twice the opposition in Assam failed to get its candidate elected to the Rajya Sabha when Tarun Gogoi was the chief minister.
Now that the Congress is enveloped by the blackest of political eclipse, the music that it designed while in power now seems to be playing loud in its own yard. Being groomed in the culture of power cultivated by the Congress, nothing could be more painful for party-men to be on the other side of the fence. Such pain in turn gives rise to indiscipline and revolt within the party. That exactly is the situation that the Assam unit of the Congress is facing today. Former minister and party heavyweight Gautam Roy has seemingly ignited a revolt in south Assam. Going by media reports, he has purportedly celebrated the victory of the BJP in the last Lok Sabha polls. The state Congress leadership has also reportedly suspended him. Meanwhile, his supporters in the Barak Valley have cried foul against the state Congress leadership if media reports are to be relied on.
What could be worse for the Congress is that the Gautam Roy issue may just be the tip of the iceberg. Much greater revolt could very much be in the offing. One can never be sure if the cauldron of revolt is being fuelled by outside forces with a view to tearing the Congres apart to pieces. Again, one can never be sure if such cauldrons are in the process of being prepared in other parts of the State. As it is, the blame game and mudslinging among state Congress leaders following the ignominious defeat have already begun.
As of now, that the party gropes in political darkness, it may be an easy exercise for outsiders to play such party splitting games by enticing Congressmen, known for their love for power, luxuries and comfort and of course easy wealth, with appropriate baits and promises of greener pastures.
As has been stated at the outset, the loser groans in pain. Being virtually on the fringe of political oblivion, and if the indiscipline brewing up in the Assam unit of the Congress is any indication, one is afraid that even greater disaster could be lurking in the horizon. One should not forget that since 2014 the BJP has been openly advocating for a political landscape sans the Congress. Could the chaos ruling the roost in the Assam Congress unit be a beginning towards that end? Have the likes of Ripun Bora, Tarun Gogoi or Debabrata Saikia any answer to the apparently gathering storm around the Assam unit?