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What went horribly wrong with the Congress?
Please do not misinterpret. The Indian National Congress (INC) was to lose the just concluded general elections. The argument is not why it lost, rather why it lost so miserably? But first let's see what the outgoing Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh had to say in his farewell address to the nation before demitting the office.

"I address you today for the last time as Prime Minister of India. Ten years ago, when I was entrusted with this responsibility, I entered upon it with diligence as my tool, truth as my beacon and a prayer that I might always do the right thing," Dr. Singh said in his brief address.

Amazing! Interesting words! Sure he was diligent and he might not have lied much but is he a fully theist? Being a Prime Minister of a nation where a very significant majority is theist, can a Sikh just stick to his personal faith? I do not think anyway that Sikhism functions as such. 

There are enthusiasts and zealots in all religions but India being a hugely Hindu-dominating country visiting a Hindu shrine in full public view cannot affect any minority, even Muslims. Majority of them would not mind much seeing Dr. Singh worshipping in a temple. I do not think that even a hypothetical Muslim Prime Minister would keep that much distance from Hinduism as Dr. Singh did. I am not questioning his personal integrity and I have nothing to do with his personal life but no matter how good intentions of Dr. Singh were towards Hinduism, the fact is he did not show much relationship with the dominant religion of India in public domain.

There is another problem and that was the language in which he mostly used to communicate with the public outside the dais of Red Fort in Delhi. Sure, English matters a lot and in many aspects of Indian life English may matter more than Hindi but Hindi also matters. It is true that there are many more people who do not understand Hindi as compared to those who do, but majority among them would not understand English either. Moreover, Dr. Singh understands Hindi very well and he could have been bilingual. Intentions matter a lot but then so does public image. And that is where he failed miserably.

That problem was not only confined to Dr. Singh but to two other power centers of the previous government: Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Also, the three together emphasized the importance of minorities more than what their proportion might have justly suggested. Okay, even for symbolic purpose, such a stand was detrimental to the INC chances in the general elections. In this regards let me caution the upcoming government of the BJP-led NDA that its top leaders, ministers and officials too would have to be bilingual and respect proportionality.

The fact is that the INC-led UPA had to lose this election because of anti-incumbency factor due to various reasons combined with a wave in favor of Narendra Modi and that for the BJP. They were good enough to oust the UPA government at the Centre. But then at the same time there has to be good reasons for the INC and its allies in the UPA to lose so miserably. 

And the answer lies in the relationships amongst the trio and somewhat overbearing personality of Ms. Gandhi and particularly that of her son Mr. Rahul.

Dr. Singh should have multiple-times dreamt upon becoming the Prime Minister of India one day but not without the help of Nehru-Gandhi family. And this was true as without the full backing of the INC?s first family there was no question of Dr. Singh becoming the Prime Minister of India. For that Dr. Singh should always be thankful to them. But then so is the case for the first family of the INC.

They choose Dr. Singh because he was very understanding, non-interfering, non-communicative person with little backing of any groupings in the Parliament; within the INC and among its allies. But Dr. Singh had had a very vast experience and on certain matters he was very talented. 

The cost to the INC towards its allies and other opposition parties was minimal in having Dr. Singh as the Prime Minister. That was maximal for Mr. Rahul. So, Dr. Singh saved some precious concessions from his party by becoming the Prime Minister of the nation. But I think that in all honesty the first family of the INC for whatever reasons does not consider the contributions of Dr. Singh. 

Now Mr. Rahul did not accept any responsibility but did interfere in government's works. May be he did so many times for the good of his party, alliance and even for the country. I cannot ascertain that though I can accept it, if told by someone who is an authority on the subject. But most of the people of India would interpret such intrusion and encroachment into the authority of incumbent to the 7 Race Course differently and they did so in just concluded general elections. Passions and emotions mattered more in this general election as compared to the previous two.

Ms. Gandhi and particularly her children need to understand that while they are special to the INC they are mostly nobody to any other political party. This is certainly true of non-UPA parties. The first family of the INC was showing too much arrogance; something the public was not ready to accept. Personally speaking, I do not find much flaw in the behavior of Ms. Gandhi except on one occasion when she was arguing with pointed fingers towards BJP stalwart Lal Krishna Advani without standing and without seeking permission of the speaker of the House.

But on the contrary Mr. Rahul's personality is somewhat overbearing. I find a very important flaw in his behavior and that is that he does not like to consider his peers as his equals. He cannot teach anything to national lawmakers, except possibly to those of the INC, who are Godfathers and Godmothers of Indian public. All are as duly elected as Mr. Rahul is.

Sure, in terms of the skills all cannot be equal but it cannot allow Mr. Rahul to give lecture in the Parliament. He is indeed very intelligent and a definite Prime Ministerial material for the INC. I would not like to comment on Priyanka Gandhi, except saying that she was almost kidding sitting in her family bastion in UP. But the family needs to remember that their role as national anchor is over. However, they can continue their role as a neutral arbiter among various Congress lobbying factions and dissenting groups. 

Therefore, there are four reasons other than those related with public image as discussed earlier for the drubbing that India's biggest party got. 

The most important is Mr. Rahul's intrusion into the authority of Prime Minister of India, out-of-the-way, without proper authorization and without acceptance of the responsibility, Dr. Singh's inability to communicate with the people of India and he mostly misinterpreting both the Hindi Heartland and the South of India, Ms. Gandhi's inability to rein in over her son and not asking Dr. Singh to be more communicative and the last one which is equal to the first one; the INC's other top leadership watching as moot spectators and doing nothing.

The defeat was certain for the INC due to universally rampant corruption, high food inflation, low-growth, unemployment and misrule. The personal equations made it more tragic. As far as Mr. Modi is concerned, if he is able to deliver on the promises he made about economics, I can smell second victory in the Parliamentarian elections for him and his party. If it so happens, such would rescale Indian politics completely and even regional equations, institutions and laws could be affected, mostly for better. 

There is nothing abnormal and intriguing in the INC's defeat, only thing is that the degree by which it got beating in the hands of the people of India is somewhat surprising.    

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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