Life beyond defeat

For Congress, 2014 was a loss to BJP’s superior electoral tactics. 2019 has to be a victory for a higher strategy

Written by Salman Khurshid | Updated: March 21, 2017 11:47 am
Congress, Rahul Gandhi, kisan yatra, congress kisan yatra, Samajwadi Party, SP, BJP, BJP UP, Uttar pradesh, Akhilesh yadav, modi, narendra modi, latest news What had seemed impossible for a long time, an alliance between the Congress and Samajwadi Party, suddenly happened.   (Source: PTI)

One more debacle for the Congress and inevitably we will get unsolicited advice regarding salvage. We can, of course, respond with the results of Punjab, Manipur and Goa (with or without the BJP’s efforts to bulldoze into office in the last two of those states). Admittedly, Uttar Pradesh was and remains a major challenge.

We were not exactly in command over the past two decades, although Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s strenuous efforts during the Kisan Yatra gave us hopes of a modest revival. Yet, what had seemed impossible for a long time, an alliance between the Congress and Samajwadi Party, suddenly happened; some might say, all too suddenly.

The first reactions were encouraging: Some underscored the arithmetic and the gravitational pull of two young leaders. The Samajwadi Party was obviously looking to put its generational fight behind and securing a role for itself in national politics. The Congress, on the other hand, was hoping for a helping hand to pull itself out of the quicksand in which it was trapped.

Perhaps it was a practical compromise between idealism and pragmatism. Sadly, the brave experiment has come to naught.

The electronic media wants to hear one confession: That we are ill-served by our leadership. But they must understand that no amount of taunts about being in denial will force some of us (not a few) to accept that proposition. We have chosen our leadership for good and bad times; we will be spineless if we get bullied into surrender to the feeding frenzy of the media.

The thing about such a surrender is that you get lynched anyhow. Therefore, what is important is whether we go down with honour or sink in self-esteem. We have work to do but will use our own script, not the one written by the media. One media enterprise owner said that they were merely seeking to keep democracy alive, trying to wake us up. So, should they not say that, instead of cursing us for not keeping awake?

And why lift an election victory for the BJP (perhaps even several) to the level of validation of some pious, high principle, rather than a transient preference of the times? Why are they in a hurry to pronounce “death by democracy” instead of accepting that there is life beyond defeat?

No amount of harping on politics having changed, a new India having emerged, makes any difference, because everything is naturally changing all the time. Each time a cricket batsman takes guard to play a new innings, there is something different. Of course some players are more suited to a particular kind of game and therefore, team compositions do get reshuffled. But politics is a bit more complicated than a game of cricket. At the end of the day, however, the batsman has to pick the ball and play the stroke — so must we, as a party that has more experience on the pitch than most people who offer commentary.

We certainly need to prepare for future battles and then, the big showdown in 2019. Omar Abdullah may be right in a sense, when he says, think of 2024. But like cricket, he should know, politics too has a peculiar proclivity for uncertainties. There is no retreat from Battlefield 2019.

The battle is not between Narendra Modi and the Rest but between two ideas of India: Exclusive versus inclusive. Once people discover where they stand, they may quickly switch sides as they did between Indira Gandhi to JP to Indira Gandhi again in less than two years starting 1977. The difference now, of course, will be that 2014 was a loss to the superior electoral tactics of the BJP whilst 2019 has to be a victory for a higher strategy.

But to achieve that, we must not repudiate the unsuccessful experiment of the SP-Congress alliance. Obviously, it did not work, but then, there were many reasons for the outcome. Analysing the shortcomings might be sensible but questioning its wisdom would be fatal.

In many ways, Akhilesh Yadav needs our support more than ever and, in turn, we need his partnership to complete the unfinished task. India is changing, we are told, but how that explains Punjab and Goa is anyone’s guess, even if Manipur fits the description. Let the BJP try to change the fundamental values of India beyond tinkering with social equations and then claim the right to rewrite history. The concept of false gods is familiar to human experience and India is no exception.

But what is more worrying is the thought of religion without god. Ironically, that denudes religion of compassion and charity, turning emotion to commerce. This can be countered not by a man or woman but by a powerful idea of humanity. Such is a battle that we must join, once again, to redeem pledges made to destiny.

The writer is a senior Congress leader and former external affairs minister

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  1. A
    Abhinav Gour
    Mar 21, 2017 at 6:37 am
    Everyone can resign but family will not and this article is a message to media and people. Family cannot protest directly to people so dogs n slaves doing the job for them.
    Reply
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      Abhinav Gour
      Mar 21, 2017 at 6:35 am
      This is the upgraded n latest version of sycophancy and loyalty without questions.
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        Ahmed
        Mar 21, 2017 at 9:32 am
        People have rejected scamgress. The author was a minister but he and his ngo run by his high profile wife grabbed money meant for handicapped and the blind. Shame on him.
        Reply
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          anonymous
          Mar 21, 2017 at 8:49 am
          It's okay Mr. former Minister to rotate the matter howsoever you want to twist. But the fact remains and you very well know, it's a big jolt and chances of Congress' revival are very dim. It has nothing in front to think. Your negative propaa has put you down. You criticized only Modi where as he focused on opposition as well as his intent to work
          Reply
          1. A
            Ash
            Mar 22, 2017 at 5:06 pm
            Did baajpa benefit from the SP family feud.Was that the major factor for SP drubbing and less due to moodi.
            Reply
            1. A
              Ash
              Mar 22, 2017 at 5:03 pm
              Has baajjpa lost its focus on development and sab ka saath.Perhaps they believe they no longer need to bother about sab ka saath.
              Reply
              1. A
                Archana Das
                Mar 21, 2017 at 4:29 am
                Time waste
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                1. I
                  indian
                  Mar 21, 2017 at 2:50 am
                  Decision is between a.p.p.e.a.s.e.m.e.n.t and equality.
                  Reply
                  1. I
                    indian
                    Mar 21, 2017 at 2:52 am
                    First explain 2g, cwg, vadra land, Augusta Westland, isro-antrix, adarsh, tatra
                    Reply
                    1. R
                      Ram
                      Mar 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm
                      Claiming Congress defeat was due to BJPs electoral tactics is like having a screensaver to hide deccimation. Appeasing minority and kneeling down to dynastic politics doesnt define an inclusive ideology.
                      Reply
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                        Chander Pal
                        Mar 21, 2017 at 4:28 am
                        Utterly depressed (1) rejected politicians (2) TV anchors (3) paid news sellers; yet short term high demand for JNU and leftists for handing out quick certifications.
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                        1. Y
                          Yogi_Bear
                          Mar 22, 2017 at 4:13 am
                          Just repleace hi's with good leader who will seat in opposition positively instaead of negative propaa. Else Congress is Extinct.
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                            IML sood
                            Mar 21, 2017 at 9:39 pm
                            Better for such discarded leaders to keep their view private as people have no value for such rubbish.
                            Reply
                            1. J
                              Jay
                              Mar 21, 2017 at 4:21 am
                              The congresi Thug and slave of sonia is back !!
                              Reply
                              1. C
                                Comm.Y.K.
                                Mar 21, 2017 at 10:43 am
                                Dear writer, " by date" is long gone, just relax and enjoy the obvious.
                                Reply
                                1. H
                                  Hindustani
                                  Mar 21, 2017 at 3:01 am
                                  Congress today is practically Muslim League. To credit of Congress, their leaders even do not ask for Hindu votes. If Hindus do not trust them, they will go no where. Congress need to emphasis that it is a party of All Indians including Hindus. In last Delhi elections, Congress had 3 MLAs ..one was a Sikh and 2 Muslim. Here are some bold suggestions for their revival.lt;br/gt;1) Say YES to uniform civil code. Every non Muslim secular country follows it and Muslim follow it too in USA, Europe.lt;br/gt;2) Say YES to Ram Mandir. If Hindus can't have it.. you do not matter to Hinduslt;br/gt;3) Declare India a HINDU SECULAR STATE WITH EQUAL RIGHTS TO EVERY ONE.. just symbolic.lt;br/gt;4) Do a visa treaty with stan..just as Modi concerned about visa regimes in UK AND USA. IF MUSLIM DO NOT LIKE INDIA THEN THEY CAN MOVE TO THEIR BELOVED STAN. STAN WAS CREATED BY INDIAN MUSLIM FOR MUSLIM ONLY. EVEN AZAM KHAN IN UP HAD DEMANDED THIS OPPORTUNITY FOR MUSLIM LIVING IN INDIA. If stan refuses, Indian muslom will understand that they can not practice 2 nation theory still in india.lt;br/gt;This may start Congress revival... else no Hindu votes, then forget it.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;In Punjab Congress won because Arminder Singh told Rahul hi to get lost.
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                                  1. H
                                    Hindustani
                                    Mar 21, 2017 at 3:59 am
                                    I am Hindu.. and you and Congress call me commumal. Congress and you have changed defination of Secular to Muslim. I am worried that Muslim will potion will implode. You encourage muslim to have 4 wives, bread like rats, instantly replace any wife if you so want but BREAD. You ypurself are stani ISI agent. CONGRESS HAS BEEN TAKEN OVER BY MUSLIM LIKE AZAD, YOU AND MANY OTHER WITH PAPPU BEING YOUR SHOW BOY. NEVER EVER WILL I VOTE FOR CONGRESS MUSLIM LEAGUE. MUSLIM. CONGRESSMAN HATE INDIA AND HINDUS.
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                                    1. H
                                      Hindustani
                                      Mar 21, 2017 at 8:00 am
                                      India SHOULD have been Muslim free after 1947. Hindu Muslim issue was decided in 1947. stan for Muslim and India for Hindus. hi let Muslim live in India to look like a statesman and Nehru let Muslim stay for vote bank politics. India's experiment with muslim have miserably failed.. for that matter, anywhere in world in non Muslim secular democratic countries muslim are simply unfit to live. As Azam Khan has suggested, many muslim in india still follow 2 nations theory and would like to migrate to stan on their own frer will. For that matter muslim in Kashmir call them selves stanis.. they should be sent to stan. All Hindu and Sikhs came from stan Kashmir came to india but muslim did not go. There is today so much hatered for muslim in india and any where in world.This author is A stani to core. He went to stan and pleaded with ISI to make Muslim in india to vote for cangress. Congress has been taken over by muslim and low iq Pappu is just a show boy.
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                                        PadryaFellow
                                        Mar 22, 2017 at 12:30 am
                                        All I could hear was DYNASTY SPITS, FOLLOWERS LICK.
                                        Reply
                                        1. S
                                          SubbuI
                                          Mar 21, 2017 at 9:32 am
                                          EXELLENT ARTICLE BY OUR EX FOREIGN MINISTER AND G SON OF EX PRESIDENT OF INDIA. INCLUSIVENESS BY CONGRESS AND UPA WILL WIN EXCLUSIVENESS OF SAFFRON DICTATOR NALAYAK N MODI AND SANGHISlt;br/gt;WE HINDUS ARE 80% OF POTION OF INDIA AND WHY SHOULD BE APPREHENSIVE OF 18% MUSLIMS ANS LESS THAN 2%OF CHRISTIANS THAT THEY WILL HARM INDIA AND HINDUS. TAKE THEM ALONG.DEVOLPMENT WILL BE INCLUSIVE.DOES MODI CARE? ARE HE IS S ONLY INTRESTED IN POLARISING AND WIN ELECTIONS EVEN WITH 35% VOTES OF HINDUS? THERE THE PROBLEM LIES.
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                                          1. V
                                            Vkc
                                            Mar 22, 2017 at 5:00 am
                                            Aithor says---we will be spineless if we get bullied into surrender to the feeding frenzy of the media...what a joke. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;You are spineless to his. Why r u giving us a leader bcoz he is born in hi family..why not a better leader born anywhere in india ??lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;You r right its exclusive vs inclusive...exclusive for you do curroption by one minister vs inclusive-corruption by all ministers and their family members. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;I suggest you should think about bigger picture...answer me, why india is poor and the ministers are rich? Why kingfisher is bankrupt but mallya is billionaire. I think you should think about before telling us that give us vote for 1re/kg rice...
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