In a yet another political routing in the southern state of Kerala, Congress bastions are crumbling at precipitating speeds across the nation. Anti-incumbency has been the predominant political tone for 40 years in the state which has now been reversed by a historic win by the Left Democratic Front. This landslide victory is consummated by a slew of development programs in base infrastructure, quantum leaps in education and public health care, executing foolproof public relief distribution schemes after the unprecedented natural catastrophes of Kerala floods, Ockhi Cyclone and the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. The administration has also shown remarkable resolve and resilience in its fight against divisive and fissiparous communal forces.
The resounding victory is partly the result of a politically sensitive population reciprocating the trust and confidence instilled by the incumbent administration at a time of crisis. The LDF government reiterated its commitment to social democracy ensuring all its residents that none will be deprived of their existential needs in times of calamities. The government also set new paradigms and benchmarks for disaster management, winning plaudits from national and international media, sovereign governments, virologists, doctors, paramedics, bureaucrats and emergency management experts.
Congress, unbecoming of its legacy and illustrious history was busy mocking and scoffing at all the meritorious efforts of the government in Covid-19 containment and flattening the epidemiological curve. Some imbecile and arrogant senior leaders of the state congress denounced and even passed ad hominem remarks against the Kerala health minister, whose efforts were lauded by media behemoths like Guardian, MIT Technology Review, Washington Post, BBC and a host of other prominent global state and non-state actors.
The Kerala opposition leader and his cronies are a spent force, akin to farcical villainy in Bollywood movies. Their brand of statecraft is reactionary politics centered on baseless allegations and innuendoes aimed at swaying public opinion. Leadership vacuum is the elephant in the room. Agendas are reactive than proactive. Politics more than other social discipline requires ethics and integrity, and above all intellectual honesty and social sensitivity. The Congress leadership was unabashedly trying to conjure up an image of the state government as “what good can come out of a communist regime”? Power hungry octogenarians and septuagenarians leech the state Congress with no commitment and focus for succession planning. Vibrant and dynamic “young bloods” are marginalized both at state and local councils.
Congress tried to sabotage state welfare schemes like the housing project for underprivileged and homeless named “Life Mission”, the infrastructure investment (InVIT) trust KIIFB. The opposition leader had filed a written complaint with the Election Commission against the LDF government to withhold preemptive delivery of Vishu festival special food kit and social security pensions, citing those dispensations will manipulate voter behavior and therefore are acts of poll code violation. A party which initiates legal action to thwart legitimate welfare schemes to ameliorate the misery of the masses are driving themselves out of the public psyche. And if there is any state in India where such political expediency by a party will not go unpunished, it is Kerala.
Congress lacks a coherent vision and a progressive ideology to lead the state into the challenges of the 21st century. All their slogans and mottos are outdated. They are devoid of a manifesto for growth and progress but drafted only criticisms or addendum to LDF blueprint for Kerala development. They paint a dystopian view of LDF schemes and policies, which, a discerning and politically astute electorate have given a befitting verdict. Ignominious attempts were also made to polarize the electorate by inflaming religious sentiments in Sabarimala Supreme Court order. Though there may be radicalized fringes in Kerala, the majority quickly realized that religion is not a substitute for bread.
Congress should experiment to reinvent itself from a mass movement to a cadre party by identifying, training and promoting grassroots workers of its secular ideologies and disseminate a reformed vision of inclusive growth. Its nomination culture has stunted party’s growth and have drawn flak for its undemocratic structure, resembling rigid hierarchies. Infighting and splinter groups have reduced the party to a bunch of power mongers and political horse-traders. Are they oblivious of the fact that an enlightened population, modernistic and politically neutral is observing their antics and drama? What they have sown over the years is only yielding diminishing returns, all across India.
A strategic vision in the form of a short manifesto-probably a ten-point master agenda- for Indian economic revival and fighting radicalized and fanatical fringe elements ruining the nation is the need of the hour. A purge is long overdue among senior party lines. If Congress fails to be in consonance with the socioeconomic aspirations of the common man, uplifting the dreary spirits and inspiring political growth prospects of its base workers, it wouldn’t be long before the grand old party be shifted to the ventilator awaiting inevitable demise.
About the author : Jaykhosh Chidambaran is an accomplished management professional with over 20 years of diverse industry experience in MNC’s and is currently an EdTech Growth and Strategy Consultant for India & Middle East. He is an alumnus of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Disclaimer : The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of TAS and TAS does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.