Mumbai: The Congress party, which has faced a series of setbacks and internal turmoil, seems to have afflicted with a disorder that is preventing it from taking quick decisions at critical junctures.

The phrase “defeat and entrapment” best captures the situation of the grand- old-party.

The defeat can be described as its perception of a failed struggle, feeling of powerlessness and sense of losing social status. The entrapment is its lack of motivation to face the threat and unpleasant situation.

In the past 10 days Maharashtra politics has presented two opportunities for the party to launch a surgical strike against BJP. On the two occasions as well, it is this state of ‘defeat and entrapment’ that prevented the party from summoning its courage to negotiate the critical situations.

The party dithered too long to take a firm stand in propping Shiv Sena –led government in the state to scuttle BJP’s attempts to split opposition parties.

The Congress also lost sight of the fact that the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah has mastered the art of splitting the parties or engineering defections to form the government.

But the instinct to take control of the situation in order to counter the moves of BJP is surprisingly amiss in the Congress.

The anti-Shiva Sena statements of party leaders, their internal meetings and the meetings the party had with NCP leadership- all displayed the party’s ineptitude and lack of sense of urgency.

The first time when Congress could not take a decision on prompting Shiv Sena which had publicly showed its willingness to dilute its Hindutva, to form the government, the situation led to the president’s rule.

The second time, the inability of Congress to wriggle out its secular image trap and take a quick decision led to a successful pre-dawn coup by the BJP with the help of NCP’s Ajit Pawar.

While the role of NCP boss Sarad Pawar in the overnight drama of revolt by his own nephew Ajit Pawar will never be known, the Congress finally ended up as main casualty.

It is now clear that the party doesn’t have any crisis management strategy to match the changing political environment, that has been painted saffron by the ferocious BJP.

Despite its virulent Hindutva rhetoric, the BJP has been able to garner support from many secular parties such as YSR Congress, AIDMK, TRS, Janatadal (United), etc, who successfully overcame the fear of losing minority votes in their states.

The Congress should not forget that its secular image is a political strategy and it is not cast in stone.

The first NDA government, which laid the foundation for Narendra Modi’s saffron wave was in fact, came into existence with support from more than a dozen secular parties except for Shiv Sena. This experiment was made possible by the ideological engineering the BJP adopted under the prudent leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The party could successfully set aside its contentious issues such as Ram Janmabhoomi to ensure the realization of non-Congress government.

It is surprising, Congress, instead of demonstrating practical wisdom could waste precious time in debating secular image.

At the end of the day, the electoral success is a precondition for any party to survive in politics.

Formation of Shiva Sena-led government would have given the Congress an advantage to keep its 44-strong flock together. Now, after Ajit Pawar’s defection to BJP camp, there is no guarantee that its members can’t fall prey to the lure of power and pelf.

Jinka Nagaraju

Jinka Nagaraju is a Hyderabad based journalist. He covered the entire spectrum of political activities of Telugu states from Hyderabad and New Delhi for about 3 decades. He represented Vaartha in New Delhi during the most happening decade of 1996-2006. He was political correspondent of Times of India from Hyderabad for 10 years. He was editor of Asianet’s Telugu digital platform. He contributed to many digital media outlets such as Al Jazeera, News 18, Newsable, South Post, The Lede ,Down to Earth etc. He is known for his Anthropological approach in the news analysis. He studied Physical Anthropology and prehistoric archaeology with Human population genetics as specialization, and his area of interest is Political Anthropology and Media Anthropology.

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