The Humpty Dumpty of Congress

By Prabhakar Timble
28 May 2012 23:17 IST

Humpty Dumpty set on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the Kings horses

And all the Kings Men

Could not put Humpty Dumpty

All over again

 

This nursery rhyme is apt for the current state of the Congress party in Goa except that this political party can be put together. What are needed are proper horses, men and women positioned from the grassroots to the top of the ladder. For the youth aspiring for social and political leadership, investment in the shares and bonds of the Congress is good business with guaranteed dividends since at present the values of the Congress shares are at rock bottom. Under such circumstances, the tested economic theory of business cycles supports that the future markets will definitely register recovery and boom.

Open v/s hidden windows

I look at Congress party more as a movement with secular ideology respecting constitutional freedoms. This political combination exhibits tolerance to dissent and rebellion even at the cost of being mocked at as a party without discipline. The Congress concoction parades greater openness in programmes and policies. Even their corruption, crime, foolishness and in-fighting are transparent and a feast to watch. As compared to the other available political camps, the blind, hidden and dark windows of the Congress party seem to be the least. This could be perceived as threats to the Congress but becomes opportunities for democratic governance.  These could be professed as weaknesses of the Party wing but turn out to be strengths for a diverse and heterogeneous society like India.

The five years of Digamber Kamat led Congress government did not falter on economic growth and infrastructure development. They were on track on what a government is supposed to do. That they should have done better is a different question. The participative approach to the Regional Plan 2021 and the patient handling goes to the credit of the Congress government. Despite the professional carving of the regional plan, that the government had to face opposition from some quarters should not speak negative of the sincere efforts of public authorities. In fact, the successive government should have carried forward the exercise rather than the luxury of de-notification. Though, I consider the policy of the then Congress government to provide grants to primary schools irrespective of the medium of instruction as unscientific, they thought it wise to implement and stuck to it despite strong criticism, black flag and black carpet demonstrations. After, the BJP government took over; the same Congress policy is in practice. Grants are pumped to primary schools irrespective of medium of instruction. The deafening silence of the vocal opposition, the pin-drop quietness of the self-proclaimed ‘pundits’ of culture including the vernacular media  is killing and smells of dirty politics. Hence, these are not the reasons of the Congress debacle. The great Congress street collapse was despite all this.

What, who and why

To start with, it is the three straight happenings which led to the fall of the Congress Humpty Dumpty. First, the Congressmen were reduced to a microscopic minority in the Congress Legislature Party and its frontal organisations. The Party was taken over by individuals without any ideology and vision. The Congress High Command emissaries are guilty of abetment for unimaginably high personal gains. Second, those who were in Congress uniform were greedy beyond limits and the party was perceived as one with total intolerance to clean politics and public administration. Thirdly, the extraordinarily visible, prodigal and gluttony rainbow of ‘family raj’ made the electorate to discard the Congress menu.

Next is the mis-calculation of the safety net due to two assumptions which proved suicidal. The first was that the favourable stand of the Congress government on grants to primary schools in English would retain the so considered vote bank of the Catholic community. The other related assumption is that the Catholics and the secularists in the majority community have no alternative to the Congress because of the projected wolf of communalism. The drug of secularism proved ineffective this time, probably due to overdose during every election.

Further, the cash-formula for the win during elections could not withstand the competitive pressures. For the Congress, a pre-nursed vote bank through exchange of notes and goodies owing loyalty to the individual and not the party was a non-negotiable criterion in selection of candidates. The ability to win was largely judged on the capacity to provide cash to the electorate well before elections, before the poll and after the vote. This formula turned hay-wire due to cut-throat competition between rival candidates, each proving to be a no less match for the other. Probably, all serious candidates and political parties looked alike and carbon copies of each other in this regard.

Finally, some factors with a direct link to the election failures of the Congress. All said and done, election is a game of numbers and the one who is first-past-the-post wins. Congress totally showed bankruptcy of constituency-wise election strategy. The declaration of tickets at the nick of time, unorganised campaign, and complacency in election management, shoddy press briefings and unpreparedness to exploit all forms of media sent conflicting and wrong signals to the electorate. Added to this, just as too many cooks spoil the soup, the Congress had too many “leaders” in command.

Cortalim never a cake-walk

The general election results 2012 of Cortalim constituency indicate that this seat was not safe for Matanhy Saldanha. Hence, it could not have been a ‘fait accompli’ for the BJP candidate Alina Saldanha. At the general elections, the BJP candidate polled 7427 votes and the combined votes of the three major opposition candidates total to 12267. The votes polled by the winning candidate at Cortalim were 36%. This means that 64% of the electorate held a different view.  Except in the constituency of Sanguem (34%), this is the lowest percentage polled by any winning candidate in the forty constituencies which went to the polls in 2012. Alina Saldanha had an advantage due to the sympathy factor and also the announced mantle of ministership. But, this was not something which was difficult to dislodge through an effective election strategy by the Opposition, if one draws lessons from the arithmetic of the results of the very recently concluded general elections to this constituency.

 

For good, humane and democratic governance by the ruling party, there is no dispute that we need an organised and effective opposition. The numbers in the legislature do not always matter as the voice of constructive dissent is needed at every level. The faster the Congress Party organises itself, it is better for the people. Let the charge at the local level be given to youngsters because in their thirst to prove their worth, the Congress movement will flourish.  From the High Command, it should be enough of Jagmeet Singh Brar, Sudhakar Reddy and Oscar Fernandes. A baton in hands of the likes of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Milind Deora and Sachin Pilot will energise the Goa outfit.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

As i said before, the only people who can set the Congress straight are people like you and hope you guys take this task with full vigour, since we do need a strong opposition not to allow the BJP and Mr. Parrikar a cake walk in whatever he deems right.

The congress is a party with secular ideals...sir, but this was the Congress of yore, not the one of now. You claim the following...

Even their corruption, crime, foolishness and in-fighting are transparent and a feast to watch.

This is highly debatable, one would see very clearly that the Congress indeed is only secular on paper, but the subtle communal stance it sheilds is indeed deplorable.

All said and done the dissection of the Congress carried out by the eminent Educationist Mr. Timble is very correct and will unfortunately remain only academic. What remains to be seen is if the Congress really takes his suggestions and acts upon them. Mr. Timble does well in trying to exonorate Mr. Kamat of various wrong doings regarding growth in the economic and infrastructure front, i do not wish to debate the actions of Mr. Kamat per say, however, how can you defend a person who is the head of a government who wishes to be a Turkey with it's head buried deep into the sand and feign ignorance the rape carried out out by his collegues in the ruling disposition.

Mr. Timble, your writing is interesting as always, however, the only feild you fail in is the math you make while calculating the votes in Cortalim..... Remember, that it is a democracy and that is how we win elections.. we cannot declare someone victorious or a loser by calculating the cummulative votes of all the others... meanwhile keep feeding us with your intelligent thoughts.

- Jaret chandrapurkar, overseas/chandor | 29 th May 2012 18:36

 

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