The Impending Implosion of the Congress Party


In Bhitti, his autobiography, Dr. S.L Bhyrappa narrates an eyewitness account of a series of rallies held in Delhi during the infamous Syndicate vs Indicate episode towards the end of the 1960s. These rallies had but a singular aim: to show the “Syndicate” that Mrs. Gandhi enjoyed a massive and popular support. Dr. Bhyrappa recounts how different groups and unions and associations—the Shoemakers, Association, the Garlic Sellers’ Association, the Hawkers’ Association, the Daily Wage Labourers’ Association, and so on—used to take out massive rallies almost every day. Sometimes, multiple rallies were taken out on the same day, and all such rallies inevitably culminated at Indira Gandhi’s residence with frenzied slogan-shouting in her support. They would submit letters, requests, pleas, and pledges of support to her. She in turn would promise to speedily alleviate their suffering, and would sport a reassuring wave of her hand. Dr. Bhyrappa joined the crowd by suitably disguising himself—wearing tattered clothes and no footwear. He struck a rapport with some of the people in the crowd and learned that these were concocted crowds—a middleman (dalal) with links to Congress party leaders was responsible to muster crowds. The greater the number he mustered, the heftier was his cut. In turn, he used to pay each rally-participant about five or ten Rupees per appearance. Dr. Bhyrappa describes how he attended several of these rallies and noticed how he saw the same faces in almost every rally—the same person used to be a “member” of the Garlic Sellers’ Association, the Hawkers’ Association and so on. Of course, to the average Indian citizen of today, this is nothing new—the bus-biryani-booze method of gathering large crowds is too commonplace to even stir our notice—but that’s precisely the point: to trace the roots of the debasement of politics and democracy, and to hold a mirror to the extent to which we’ve become immune to this kind of profanity that has infected all aspects of public life.

Needless, such gimmicks translated to handsome electoral gains for Mrs. Gandhi. However, these gimmicks also contained the seeds of the eventual destruction of the Congress party. Within just two decades, the Congress party in 1989 suffered a drubbing from which it has never recovered. These seeds were characterized by a mastery of the vile art of duping the voter and the hubris that results from it.

It is a truism that Rajiv Gandhi holds the record for the Congress party securing the largest ever electoral mandate in the history of independent India thanks to the enormous sympathy wave for Mrs. Gandhi. Most commentaries and analyses merely stop at this. They blame Rajiv’s numerous ill-informed policies and scams as reasons for his defeat in 1989. However, what deserves to be thoroughly studied is how effective he was as a vote-getter. Rajiv Gandhi’s 1984 victory was more a vote for his deceased mother than for him. Indeed, the 1989 drubbing provides valuable lessons. Indira Gandhi’s stints as Prime Minister witnessed far worse corruption, nepotism, and even a brief period of dictatorship. Yet she stormed back to power barely 2 years after her post-Emergency defeat. However, the son was barely a shade of the mother. Just two major instances—the Bofors scandal and the Shah Bano goof-up were sufficient to unseat him. He was in many ways the architect of the Congress party’s downfall.

However, there was another phenomenon at work. The Congress party under both Mrs. Gandhi and later Rajiv had steadily lost the goodwill of the same people who had earlier voted with their eyes closed. Tavleen Singh’s Durbar gives numerous instances—some of them hilarious—of the measure of this loss on the ground. The other important measure of this loss was the slow but steady and sure rise of regional parties, and the meteoric ascent of the BJP. Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress party was reduced to watching this phenomenon with increasing despair, and groping hopelessly in the dark for that counter it did not have. Perhaps the most important measure is how Rajiv Gandhi who commanded the largest ever majority in Parliament received an equally phenomenal hammering after a paltry five years, and had to stoop so low as to destabilize Governments just so he could stay relevant.

Most things have changed phenomenally since then. Most things, except the Congress party.

Cut to the present when the Congress party faces a grave threat to its very survival. In its second consecutive stint in power, it has nothing except gargantuan scams and scandals to tout as its achievements. The Reigning Hope of this party currently happens to be the selfsame Rajiv Gandhi’s son, Rahul Gandhi. Enough has been written about this Youthful Eminence’s natural excesses in launching a rebellion against commonsense and intellect. If all the perfumes of Arabia couldn’t rid Lady Macbeth of her guilt, why should we surprised that all the media ointments and generous doses of feel-good tonic haven’t helped germinate in Rahul what he wasn’t born with?

Besides, I don’t think Rahul is any different from his father in the Grey Matter Area except that Rajiv had the enormous fortune of a sympathy wave and a Stalinist setup masquerading as a democratic Government. The sympathy-wave equivalent for Rahul is a fawning media, large sections of the academia, and those who call themselves intellectuals. Rajiv Gandhi was already Prime Minister when he uttered those famous “Hum karenge, hum banayenge, hum leke aayenge” lines and more hilariously, the “jeetenge ya loosenge” bit. Yet, they were sufficient to provide a glimpse into the fact that, forget Prime Minister, he was not even Municipal Councilor material.

But those were different times. The average Indian voter was much more tolerant and still naïve in many ways. The generation that was born around Rajiv Gandhi’s time today enjoys an entire array of the first fruits of (an almost) free market economy, has travelled the globe, has experienced true democracy abroad, and more importantly, doesn’t tolerate nonsense, is very vocal in its criticism of nonsense, and most importantly, doesn’t fall for the political and socialist snake-oil that sold so well for almost five decades. And it is hungry to reap to the fullest all the fruits of a true free market economy. Needless, this breed of Indians belongs firmly in the middle and upper middle class aka the tax-paying class. And the classes below are naturally aping this class.

And these are different times. The Congress party to its detriment realized too late the potential and the power of the Internet, which in India has proved to be the deathblow-dealer to the Dynasty starting with shattering the Nehru Myth. Had Rajiv Gandhi still been around, there is little doubt that he’d be pilloried in the same way his son is now getting pilloried. Rajiv got away with his gaffes because the Indian state was still Stalinist—recall how he himself tried to pass the Defamation Bill—and because the Indian citizen of that time was far more tolerant and large sections sincerely believed in the harmful baggage of the Myth of the Infallible Dynasty. It is clear especially in the online world that today’s voter is no longer prepared to take this kind of thing lying down. The kind of brutal, brilliant, and dedicated satire that’s directed towards the Dynasty and prominent Congress leaders would have been unthinkable just 15 years ago. Today, some of the websites doing this have achieved iconic status.

But what does the Congress party do? It goes ahead and does the only thing it knows: suppress free expression by blocking websites, blogs, and Twitter handles. However, even this vile endeavor bombed. Meanwhile, the Indian social media space had turned into this gargantuan national football field where every misstep, every gaffe, every scam, and every single word uttered by anybody in the Congress party was dissected to the last dirty detail, crucified, and torn to shreds. And people who continue to do this hail from the selfsame educated, hardworking, and tax-paying Indians who have the nation’s interest at heart.

However, even in this instance, the Congress woke up too late. What’s common throughout, especially after Mrs. Gandhi’s demise, is the fact that the Congress has always been behind the curve, thanks to the Dynasty’s unquenchable thirst for power, which invariably attracts only sycophants who have no idea that something called a curve even exists. The Congress party continues to remain frozen in time.

And so, even in this instance, it has acted predictably. Because it knows no better, it has relied on tricks that had worked so well in Mrs. Gandhi’s time. It has allocated 100 Crore Rupees for its social media campaign or whatever it is called, to take on its opponents most of who passionately—and correctly—abhor the Congress for mauling the country so badly. 100 Crore Rupees to fund something which is the Social Media equivalent of hired supporters who had taken out rallies in support of Indira Gandhi against the Syndicate.

Except that the calendar says 2013, not 1968-69.

17 comments for “The Impending Implosion of the Congress Party

  1. Vivek
    September 13, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    The thumping end of congress would be a new start. How I wish the regional parties, most of them in words and action mimic the congress and are based on the dynastic blueprint left by nehru-gandhi family, also come to an end!

    BJP and the communist parties are the only ones without any dynastic component; the AAP is in its early days. But, I believe BJP with narendra modi at the helm will be a transformational and pragmatic party and India needs at least two decades of such a set up to come out from the masochistic shadow of the congress years.

  2. madan
    August 11, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    our country has a history of infighting and is now adding corruption,division,use of dirty language for opposition, brainless comments which lead to self destruction of purpose etc. etc.what do you expect from such type of people who do not hear anything other than false praises.

  3. K. Harapriya
    May 11, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    If there was ever a party that could seize defeat from the jaws of victory, it is the BJP. Even when the congress party is slowly disintegrating, the BJP doesn’t seem to have the will to project its most charismatic leader as the PM candidate. The BJP keeps telling us that it has many talented people. That is the problem. What you need is really one or two leaders and the rest have to be those who are prepared to work behind the scene.

  4. April 24, 2013 at 11:34 PM

    This layout is not good. Revert to old one or make this better. Thanks.

  5. Jooske
    April 24, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Well lets hope you are right.

    They should have not got in 2004 and certainly not in 2009.

    With all the scams and corruption you would think that people would voted them out in 2009 (no matter who is coming in)

    Are you counting your chickens before they are hatched as in 2004?

    Need a plan of attack or they will be there again next time.

  6. R Prasad
    April 24, 2013 at 7:08 AM

    Brilliant column comparing the 10 rupya rally coolies with 100 rupya Twitter and facebook high-tech coolies. Liked the article overall.

    On the implosion of Congress, I tend to agree with fellow reader Mayuresh that Congress is a like cat got several lives from ashes, until now. This was because there was no alternative leader and/or party. There was only the option of Third Front (or Back). Now, there is an alternative leader Modi and party BJP.

  7. Sanjay
    April 20, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Whether it is Congress or BJP or JDS, all are same. You will find members of every party being a former member of another party. Elections in India are a big sham and till people realize this the present situation is not going to change. See

  8. Mayuresh
    April 19, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    All that is written about the Congress is true, however, i have my doubts about the conclusion, i.e. the impending implosion. The Congress has a tremendous knack of survival and comes back even more evil. The Congress is clueless and an absolute bumblung idiot when it comes to efficient and effective administration but is a master when it comes to politics, winning elections by hook or crook, sabotaging institutions for personal gain and every other imaginable act of political subversion. Unless someone does a Benazir/Musharraf on ALL the top leaders of the party, the Congress will survive this implosion and come back even more morally bankrupt and corrupt. It won’t die or fade away

  9. April 18, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Sandeep, here is the problem. The party did implode – but what is the consequence? In Nehru’s times even though he was a rogue, there were capable people in the party to not merely keep it in power but to actually deliver. People like Patel and Shastry kept doing their duty in nation’s service. Today because of the party’s implosion, it can only get worse – you only have a team that can look after power and never after responsibility. An imploded party is good for the country if it can be thrown out – not when it is in power :)

  10. VirtualPresence
    April 18, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    I loved how you began the post and kind of tied it all in the end. The congress epithet, donated by the educated middle class of course, couldn’t have said this any better – “Purchasing lackeys onsite and online (1960s – 2014)”

  11. Abhijeet
    April 18, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    Dear Sandeep,

    Some C Voter Survey has projected Congress to loose as much as 93 seats & take it down to 110 seats even 1 year before the elections. Imagine where would this Party land by end of election Campaign in 2014 if it survives that long. I would suggest, the BJP to focus on increasing its voter base especially in two states. Andhra Pradesh where the Congress might rebound in a couple of years & Bengal where Left might rebound in couple of years. If BJP agressively push itself in these two states, it will ensure Congress never returns to Power in Delhi even with Left support.

  12. April 18, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Remember Rajesh Pilot begging for votes, not so long ago? This wretched bg of worms needs to be booted out for at least 25 years, or permanently, if required.

  13. Badari Narayanan
    April 18, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Excellent article

  14. NS
    April 18, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    This is so true about Congress’ ‘Demonocracy’ which so reflects at their grass roots level. A sample ; A person working at my office(stays at KR Puram, Bangalore)has been offered Rs. 2500 per vote and, as a token pledge of his vote, he is supposed to ‘surrender’ a copy of his Voter ID.

    They have every reason to feel insecure!!

  15. R. D. Choudhary,
    April 18, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    This is a correct analysis and needs to reach to a wider section of people for a correct understanding of our country under congress rule thus far. We have all the resources to become worlds number one country but the greed and trappings of power, completely devoid of selfless service has been a bottleneck. As always the neck of the bottle is on the top and therefore public opinion and debates need to be brought to all sections of society, clearly spelling out the disasters befallen on our national polity due to misrule of the congress. Lot of changes are needed to be done on law making and changing certain provisions due to which the corrupt have been flourishing in the country.

  16. Shiv Kumar
    April 18, 2013 at 4:05 AM

    I am afraid that the powers behind the Nasty Dynasty will pull some tricks to keep the party going for a long time to come. One is relegate the clown and bring the sis forward. Don’t know what diff it will make though. But it won’t end easily. The sponsors have a lot at stake.

    If the BJP comes to power in the next election, they need to fix certain things in the constitution such as the first past the post election system to prevent these guys from getting so much power ever again.

  17. Pandutanghari
    April 18, 2013 at 2:34 AM

    Well youv’e written that we already know.

    I would like you to give the following a serious thought

    I really wish Rahul Gandhi becomes a prime minister.

    Major civilizational changes have happened whenever there has been a risk of war. Or something close enough.

    Indians have become too darn complacent to be free for too long. What we need is some serious phucking to get the ball rolling. Unless there is a Mangal Pandey episode the unwashed masses of this great country wont give Modi the right to correct the shit- a what a great amount of shit to correct – NREGA, COalscam, this scam that scam, secular bullshit, Art 370, marxist media and what not..the list is endless). Modi is a gem which the masses wont realise until the shit will really hit the fan.

    I want UPA 3 with Rahul at the helm and then I am hopeful we will hit a lot of turd. The useless Indians who will then start drowning in their own shit will realise what they did wrong.

    If NDA come to power, let LKA take the flak. Let him be a fall guy. Let him fade into obscurity. Only then the stoopid Indians will know what they are missing. Just like Chatrapati Shivaji arose to kick the islamic rule out, Modi will need absolute majority to get rid of Macaulayism.

    Far too long have we been complacent.
    I am hopeful.

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