The Indian National Congress has not gotten over its Lok Sabha loss 2 years back till now. Since then, it has sunk deeper into an abyss and has stumbled at every hurdle (read elections) they face. The recent debacle in the Rajya Sabha elections is a case in point of the extent of congress’s downfall.
Congress-backed independent candidate, R.K. Anand had lost the Rajya Sabha elections from Haryana after the votes of 14 MLA’s from Congress were found to be invalid. There are a lot of theories floating around regarding what went foul – from the Election Commission rigging the elections to the MLA’s selling out to other parties etc etc.
I would like to believe the second reason. If Bhupinder Singh Hooda is actually miffed by the Congress central high command (thus leading to him sabotaging the elections), it won’t be the first instance of a regional congress leader getting angry with the political hierarchy inside the party.
If sources can be believed, Congress’s constant underperformance at Assembly elections stems from the fact that regional leaders are not being given the authority to make key decisions. Several party members have alleged that their voices are not being heard and they have to follow the orders coming from the Centre. The resulting disenchantment is noticeable in the state election results.
No one will question that the party is in a state of constant decline right now, but why do I say that it is good that Congress is not in power right now?
Here I would like to draw some inferences from an article written by Arvind Subramanian.
After independence, for many years, India grew at a slow but constant rate. Even the states had similar rates of growth. Since Congress was the only dominant party at that time, all decisions were being made by the centre which applied equally to all states without any differentiation.
But over time, a change was seen. As regional parties grew in power, the Centre had to accede to their wishes. As more decisions were made by the state governments, the rate of growth of SDP (state domestic product) increased. This is true considering the fact that the state will be more aware of its own resources and will form policies to suit its own needs.
Comparing the same situation with what we see now, the concentration of power at the top of the Congress hierarchy would not have helped the country economically as well (if it was in power). Our founding fathers had opted for federalism as they understood the efficiency of decision-making at the ground level.
The Congress leaders sitting in Delhi do not know what is going on around the country. They need to listen to the state leaders as well, who are more aware of the situation at the grassroots level and thus, will be able to ensure more efficient policy-making.
This internal conflict does not bear well for the future too. Just like during Indira Gandhi’s time, when the possible split of the party led to many policy decisions being politically motivated, most of the focus of the high command seems to be on keeping their regional forces together.
I hope the party leaders come to realize their folly soon. They were the cause of their own demise but now they need to buck up if they want to come to power again.
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.