May 30, 2020
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Sonia's Last Chance

Sonia's Last Chance
This may not be a make-or-break election for the Congress but it definitely is a make-or-break election for Sonia Gandhi. If she leads the party to another debacle (repeat of the 1999 result would be considered a debacle), she cannot hope to survive as party leader. In a sense, she is drinking at the Last Chance Saloon after which there is only wilderness and more wilderness. The more you see of the Sonia-led Congress, the more you tend to agree with those who employ the word "hopeless" to describe India’s oldest political party. As one watches the pounding of the Congress by the smug, slick whizkids of the BJP, one glimpses the full disarray in the Congress. "Our vision statement will be ready tomorrow" is the refrain of Sonia’s inept and comatose election managers. As I write, tomorrow is yet to come. In a boxing match, when one contestant is on the ropes, the referee can halt the proceedings to avoid gratuitous bloodshed. Alas, in a general election the match has to be played out to its inevitable gory end.

There are millions in this country who passionately support the Congress and reluctantly put up with its present leader. They support the party’s sane, decent, inclusive vision: a plural, secular, non-communal, non-casteist India committed to rescuing the 400-million citizens of our republic who are clearly not "shining" because they do not know where their next meal is coming from. However, when I see the durbar around Sonia, when I see the combination of terror and awe on their faces as they approach her, when I see the reverential hush which falls when she speaks, when I see personal loyalty to the family as the highest qualification for advancement, when I see foolish decisions being taken with no one having the courage to point out the error, I am not surprised that the Congress has fallen hook, line and sinker for the trap laid out by Messrs Mahajan, Venkaiah and Jaitley. A perpetual "reactive" position does not win many votes.

The NDAa, especially the BJP, is so vulnerable, makes for a juicy target, but the one-eyed Congress can neither aim nor shoot. In India 2004, when two or three potential Congress voters meet, they can do little else but cry collectively.

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