Gujarat has been the original karmabhoomi of the Congress. The Mahatma began his experiments in politics here and nurtured a mass movement.
The first party chief of the state was Sardar Patel. Yet, the party has not won the state since 1985. The current state chief Bharatsinh Solanki seems to blame it on vastu. And so, the state Congress headquarters is set to shift to a new building in Ahmedabad.
Solanki might be better off consulting his father Madhavsinh Solanki, who was four times chief minister of Gujarat and last won the state for the Congress. In the 1980s, he outwitted the opposition by crafting the KHAM, an alliance of Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim communities, on a social justice platform, long before the advent of Mandal. That was also the last big idea the party had for Gujarat. Since then, the Congress in Gujarat has been a ship that has lost its sail, anchor and direction. Over three decades, despite rebellions and splits, the BJP has won election after election. The 2002 communal violence left scars that have yet to heal. But where was the Congress? Did it reach out to the victims, lend them a hand in their tortuous pursuit of justice?
Did it initiate a participatory conversation on the costs of communalism? Of course, come elections, it brandished rhetoric. Remember, Sonia Gandhi’s “maut ka saudagar” campaign? But the party lost that election and shrank from raising the riots as an issue thereafter.
A party needs organisation and ideas to win elections. The Gujarat Congress has neither. Rather than wait for the BJP to fail, it needs to pursue electoral success by rebuilding its organisation and taking the initiative. The stars will then realign, the vastu will fall into place.