Hyderabad: “In politics nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned in that way”.
Ideological Strategies and Tactics based on matters of consolidating the party, however, efficient and well thought out must be reformed, or, altered if they don’t suit contemporary political interests.
In other words, any political party that does not subject itself to the “tests of challenge” in its political and policy thinking during its trail of political consolidation, and sticks to its old political discourse would remain caught in its own time wrap to end up a paraplegic in a wheel chair.
Is the T-Congress turning out to be a paraplegic to end up in a wheel chair?
This piece is written in the backdrop of the worst ever electoral debacle that the Congress witnessed in Telangana.
I might sound cynical or politically novice if I had attributed the said loss as a combined result of:
Leadership losing the track of perception battle against TRS.
The flawed policy of campaign by Telangana top leaders to allow Chandrababu, a “symbol of anti-Telangana” to lead the electoral battle.
The lacklustre leadership of Uttam Kumar Reddy (with due regards) and
The “No Alternative to KCR” factor, no I can’t say it to be a charisma (the magnitude of which most people, including the Congress leadership, failed to gauge).
Whenever, the Congress sensed defeat in the past, the usual ploy was to use the charisma of the Gandhi family to recover. And the trick worked, to the extent in the past.
This time too, the Telangana Congress leadership went overboard to use the charisma of Sonia Gandhi, shall we say the “the agony of motherhood” of Sonia Gandhi to watch the travails of its child Telangana under the guardianship of KCR.
They mired in projecting her nobility and sacrifice that they completely lost the track of perception battle against KCR and his shrewd electoral campaign.
However, this time, the campaign run by KCR was focused on overshadowing the ‘halo’ surrounding the “Mother” Sonia Gandhi by consistently painting the contest as something between “Him”, the frail son of Telangana soil, and “Naidu”, the crooked anti-Telangana symbol.
In almost all his rallies, he consistently attacked Telangana leadership of the party, asserting that their corrupt background and their connivance with Seemandhra leadership in looting the resources of Telangana should be carried forward if the Congress was voted back to power.
The object claim (shall we say the hollow claim) of the Congress to liberate and re-build Telangana of people’s aspiration, was shrewdly turned into an object of ridicule, especially among the urban middle and rural poor classes.
Well, whatever happened had happened.
So, what can the Telangana Congress do now, and how should the leadership proceed?
The first option is to change the present leadership and initiate all the requisite overhauling of the party in Telangana with a young and energetic leaders from among subaltern sections at the helm.
Entrusting the responsibility to leaders of such social class and competence would also herald some sort of social engineering by the high-command.
It was high time the so called senior leaders were told where they stood and accorded the place where they deserved to be.
Hope that the new leadership is better prepared by 2023.
However, it is going to be very difficult for the Congress to put up a fight in the next general election (2019) with the old leadership at the helm would be akin to not willing to learn any lesson, as the Telangana voters who had handed over their destiny in the hands of KCR once again, don’t see the old leadership of the party as someone competent enough to lead them at national politics.
Therefore, even if voters get disenchanted ( it looks illusionary for the moment) by the new strategy of KCR to play an important role at national level and its overhyped gimmickry, they might still not see the present old congress leadership as someone who can be alternative to KCR even at national level.
This, in turn, could work in favour of KCR and his party or the Telangana voters might look for another alternative like BJP, if they sense if it would be better alternative than KCR at the Centre.
Therefore, it was time the Telangana Congress leadership broke its silence and incompatibility which it has been putting up in the face of the gimmickry of “formation of alternative front” being enacted by KCR, and the speed with which he is bracing up for the Parliamentary elections in the state.
So far, it appears that the Telangana leadership is clueless on how to take on KCR and his gimmickry and place itself as the main challenger to him in the said elections.
KCR is known for conceiving grandiose visions which look splendid and all fascinating on paper, but they are purely “Grand political rhetoric without an iota of substance”, but definitely not without any hidden objectives.
Quite obviously, none can blame KCR for his grandiose plans, after all he is not in politics to be a Mahatma.
The talk of a “Non-National Party Front” that is aimed at securing a better bargain for Telangana vis-à-vis the Centre etc., are only to camouflage his political strategy.
KCR’s objective is to win the maximum possible seats out of 17 Lok Sabha constituencies in Telangana.
He would want a non-Congress, non-BJP political narrative to convince the electorate in 2019, at a time when the choice for them is polarised between the Narendra Modi-led BJP and the Congress.
Another objective of KCR is that he wishes to carve out a space for himself in national politics after putting in place a firm succession plan back home, wherein, he wants his son KTR to take over from him, and as such all the hype around his foray into National politics is a perfect ploy to create a smooth atmosphere to coronate his son as his successor..
Insofar, the T-Congress leadership appears to be in oblivion to the moves of KCR vi-a-vis his plans to win all Lok Sabha seats in the state.
KCR has already started wooing the Congress MLAs to consolidate his winning ways in the Lok Sabha elections, besides, embarking on a national pilgrimage of sorts purportedly aimed at building a non-Congress, non-BJP political front.
While he is hyping on his national ambitions, the T-Congress finds itself in a comatose and appears to be doing little either to expose the fallaciousness of KCR’s national ambitions or to consolidate itself to face his challenge.
The Congress leadership somehow failed to understand that KCR needs more than an exaggerated sense of indispensability and competitive provincialism to make his dream a reality or other complexities of forging an alternative front that KCR had to overcome to fulfil his national ambitions.
At the same time, somehow, the Congress seemed pusillanimous in exposing that his moves to forge a coalition of regional parties were aimed at breaking the anti-BJP united platform that is emerging in the country.
On the other hand, KCR himself is aware that the parties he has approached, even if they come together, may not have the numbers to even offer a credible alternative.
But, he is shrewd enough to understand that to be in the reckoning or emerge as a king maker at national level, it’s vital for him to do well in his backyard in the parliamentary polls.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that a lot of what we are seeing is mere posturing by him, which, the Congress leadership needs to expose.
Thus far, KCR has caught himself in a self-perpetrated trap of his own making.
Should he fail in his endeavour, people will view him as the “Great opportunist”.
But somehow, the Congress leadership is maintaining a strange and deepening “self-inflicted silence” against the fraud of his gimmickry.
The opposition appears to be in a state of self-doubt over its role as opposition and seemed to have not yet recovered from the electoral shock or shall we say from the internal backbiting.
A leadership in self-doubt is half that is a helpless infant and a general without strategy.
If the fraud of post-poll gimmickry of national ambition by KCR is the most disturbing, the silence of congress leadership is more bizarre.
The Telangana Congress and its leaders are yet to feel that the electoral defeat was more about losing the perception battle than about flawed campaign.
It reflects in the present mode of silence where the leadership of the T-Congress is not able to set aside internal differences or not capable enough to keep its flock together to put up a united front against KCR and the perceived gimmickry of his policies under the guise of churning out grandiose plans/proposals.
Another option for the Congress is that the present AICC leadership-in-charge of Telangana affairs should relinquish their posts to be substituted by local members of AICC with High-command itself overseeing the affairs directly, and hold internal elections to choose new office bearers for the PCC. This option would promote intra-party democracy and ensure that in 2019 parliamentary elections, the Congress puts forward its best candidate for the challenge.
Another choice is that the Congress needs to cultivate strong leaders at the state level as well. This is something they have generally avoided, perhaps to prevent a challenge to their central leadership. If the Congress needs to regain lost ground, this is something that has to change.
It needs to find passionate politicians from among the sections of lower strata of society who are willing to work at the grassroots level, because unlike their central leaders (who had become politically irrelevant in their own states), these leaders will connect the party to the masses and bring in votes.
All the options mentioned above have their pros and cons, and it is up to the party to decide which one would be the best for its plans, both in the near future as well as the long-run. This decision should not be taken after carefully introspecting the reasons for its loss.
It is very important that the leadership gets it right this time, because the future of India’s oldest political party, which fulfilled the aspirations of long cherished dream of Telangana people, in Telangana more or less depends on it.
With the KCR controlling the region with his own indomitable style, the state needs a strong opposition, now more than ever and not an opposition that appears to be Paraplegic on a wheel chair.