135 The Congress must shape up… or ship out !
Until the next assembly elections which is slated for the end of the year in Gujarat and then several states in 2013 the chatter will be as to how long the UPA government will last. I think they will survive a full term because of a TINA (there is no alternative) factor but for it to regain power in 2014 will be very difficult unless it chooses to do the following (and I’m pretty sure it will not do any of the following even if this blog ends up on the computer screen of the top management):
a) A complete revamp of the party and government is required – some of the suggestions follow but in a nutshell they should stun detractors and opponents in one go by making some drastic moves.
b) To either get the Gandhi family completely out of the party positions (Sonia should cite ill health and withdraw as UPA chairperson, NAC chairperson and as President of the Congress Party) or get Rahul to contest up front for a government position like CM of New Delhi – this will be a test to see if he is made for larger roles or not. If Rahul does not take it up he should remain an MP till end of his term and retire gracefully. He chose to be in the limelight and created expectations. He must fulfill them or bow out.
c) They should move Pranab Mukherjee and Sheila Dikshit to the PMO and Rashtrapati Bhavan as next Prime Minister and President respectively by July. In case Sheila wants to remain where she is, get Manmohan into Rashtrapati Bhavan if the need to rehabilitate him is much needed. ( an opportunity exists and he gets to talk only 5 times a year in the possible new role). This suggestion is only because the Congress will overlook people like NR Naryanmurthy, Ratan Tata, Santosh Hegde, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, E Sreedharan or (VP)Hamid Ansari because they may not toe the government line.
d) They should find someone relatively middle aged and a fresh face to be Congress President who will give the party new direction. Options range from IIT educated Jairam Ramesh to PHD holder CP Joshi among others who have largely clean backgrounds.
e) Digvijay Singh should be sent packing as Governor of a remote small state where Congress is in Power or should be asked to sit at home or better still send him as ambassador of Fiji so he will be out of sight. A complete revamp of spokespersons should be undertaken: Manish Tewari and Abhishek Singhvi should be gagged. Professionals should be brought in to manage and plan the media strategy.
f) The BABAlog – Milind Deora (Maharashtra), Sachin Pilot (Rajasthan), Jyotiraditya Scindia (MP), Jitin Prasada (UP) should be put in charge of party affairs with focus on their states in preparation for 2014. Similarly other 25 young MPs should be identified to work at the state level right away.
g) They have to create regional leaders and a non-dynastic men and women in the second rung in order to have a decent set of Chief Ministers. This is the strategy the coalition of regional parties is good at. Strong regional chieftains who win the state. People want to see a responsible local face at the state level and vote accordingly.
Unless some of these drastic measures are not taken now the Congress will have to spend a decade at least out of power, which would not have been a bad idea if the opposition was responsible and reasonable with a leadership worthy to lead the country. Those who are worthy do not have a pan India base (Nitish Kumar or Arun Jaitley) for that matter.
Even the BJP could use some of these pointers after their debacle in Uttarakhand, poor show in UP and no show in Manipur. Punjab saved the day thanks to the Badals (in fact the ministers who were found corrupt in the Punjab government were from the BJP).
Parting Shot – India needs a strong leadership to inspire young people, to take the country into the super powerdom it aspires for. What we have now has crossed the use by date.