‘Failure to cultivate grassroots leaders hit Cong’

M Veerappa Moily, one of only three Congress ministers to retain their Lok Sabha seats, assesses the reasons for the party’s poor performance:

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Updated: May 21, 2014 10:48:55 am

M Veerappa Moily, one of only three Congress ministers to retain their Lok Sabha seats, assesses the reasons for the party’s poor performance:

On governance

“It is a question of management (of elections), a question of governance that let us down. As chairman of the second Administrative Reforms Commission (in UPA-I), I had given a report on how to improve governance. But, despite all sincerity of Dr Manmohan Singh in constituting the ARC, except for a few things, nothing could percolate down in the administration… Everybody talks about these issues; even the Narendra Modi-led NDA spoke about governance. In 2009, we mentioned in the President’s address that governance would be top of the agenda. But the sincerity was missing. This is what we need to seriously address.”

On OBC leaders

“Backward class leaders have emerged in regional parties and at regional level. In the Congress we should have nurtured that kind of feeling. But that was not done.”

On grassroots leaders

“If we don’t have a strong leadership in the states and at the regional level, that can’t inspire confidence among the grassroots workers. Another important thing where we need to change is management of our parliamentary functioning… As a major party we should have managed the floor better. Ultimately it was our lack of skill. We couldn’t demonstrate to the country that that we could run Parliament. We can’t blame our leadership for this. Was Rahulji responsible for ensuring smooth running of Parliament? He had no role in floor management, no role in taking care of allies. We mismanaged everything, including the media. Wage Board, which was the most unreasonable recommendation, we accepted. And, we incurred the displeasure of managements of all media organisations.”

On Modi’s campaign

“We should have taken him on ideologically. But we took him on at a personal level. We allowed him to polarise. We, as well as other similar secular parties, came out in favour of minorities… But the manner in which it was overplayed ultimately landed us in the pit that is polarisation. This is what Modi wanted, BJP wanted. They could polarise the polls, particularly after Muzaffarnagar. It should have been handled much better by the SP government. Also the over-reaction from us and Mayawati resulted in this disaster… One district should not have made a difference in the entire country but Muzaffarnagar did. One district killed the secular politics of all parties.”

On Rahul

“Macro-level failures are responsible, for which I don’t think Rahul is responsible. He didn’t contribute to these failures. He can still lead the country. Why not? But, we will have to unlearn what we practise. And, there should be honest rethinking of our strategies. Start from zero. We must tell the people that these are the mistakes we have committed and that we will not commit them again. And fight for good governance. Ultimately, good governance brings you votes. More than corruption, it is good governance that is the issue.”

On “drawing room” politicians

“Drawing-room politics can’t help us win votes. Ultimately, it is grassroots politics that does. That is what we need to address. And, also, the party will have to be reorganised, right to the grassroots level. We always knew what was happening in Tamil Nadu. Right from 2009, we knew what was happening in Andhra Pradesh. We were aware of what was wrong in Uttar Pradesh. But we didn’t take a single step to reorganise our structure in these states. Our people, whosoever was put in charge of these states, were not made accountable for the failures. They were, in fact, rewarded. I know of one leader who brought the party down to five seats and was made a Lt Governor. We seem to reward people who fail. There has to be proper reward and punishment.”

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