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An Open Letter to the Congress President – On reviving Congress

Posted by RB Kollannur on May 19, 2014

Dear Mrs Gandhi

You have my deepest sympathies. You led a remarkable turnaround of Indian National Congress from the shambles of 1998 only to see it fall even more on your handover. Transition has always been a difficult period for Congress and most critics would say this time Congress will transit into nothing.

Unfortunately for India to be a healthy democracy, we need two national parties. So, time has come for a reboot of Congress. No other party has the pan India reach that you have and nor do anyone have truly national leaders.

And don’t worry you don’t need to bring your kids along for this.

By now you will have many reasons for why Congress lost, but only one for why the loss was this bad – that Congress, unlike BJP or the Left, is not a cadre party. Having a strong cadre is like having a stop loss in the stock market, keeping bad from going worse.

But building a cadre based party takes time, which you don’t have.

One of the main issues that has plagued Congress over the years is dealing with the ego of the regional satraps. Unless they inherit the role, national leaders have to work for it, from local to district to the state and beyond. Many will have national aspirations, bringing them in conflict with the national leadership and/or other state leaders, causing them to leave. Most of these breakaways fail and rejoin like K Karunakaran or BS Yeddyurappa. But like Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee have shown, some can survive outside the party pretty well.

The trick is to retain the regional satraps without splitting the party.

For this, you need to give decision making powers in the party to the voters.

No. Not just party workers, but the entire electorate.

This way no antagonism will be directed at the national leadership. A political leader’s success lies in his winnability, while a political worker’s success lies in his contribution to his party (Keep inner party situation as it is).

I understand that there has already been an attempt to do this in a limited scale but failed to receive any electoral success. The reason was that it was done internally. You needed to engage with the ordinary voter and not just the few who will vote anyway for Congress.

For the upcoming election in Maharashtra you have an ally in very much the same boat as you. Instead of sharing seats, invite candidates from your ally for each constituency and do the same with Congress. Open your party offices to anyone with a voter ID for the constituency to choose from the candidate palette and nominate the elected candidate for actual candidature irrespective of party.

Engaging more voters – Check.
Reduce intra party conflict – Check.
Reduce conflict with allies – Check.
Get more votes – Status Pending.

If it works well and good, but if it fails it will not drastically vary from the results you expect to get, considering the drubbing already received.


RB Kollannur
Unseen Ink
inperceptus resero


One Response to “An Open Letter to the Congress President – On reviving Congress”

  1. […] Expect Heavy Mango Showers This Summer An Open Letter to the Congress President – On reviving Congress […]

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