1984 is known for George Orwell and his depiction of a dystopian society. For India in the same year, streets of Delhi gave a sort of the same effect. Indira Gandhi was assassinated and a chaotic aftermath saw unprecedented massacre of Sikhs. The tragedy was milked into a sympathy wave which like a giant Tsunami swept away the electoral fortunes of other political parties. What remained was Congress with a Lok Sabha tally of above 400 which it had not even achieved post independence elections. Now in 2014 too much of Congress had flown out of the system and as India braced towards its first simple majority govt in 30 years, so did the tally of the Congress party which touched its unceremonious lowest ebb. The party is yet to recover from its shocking number of 44 and electoral defeat with sustained shrinkage continued at regular intervals.
An interesting feature however has evolved post demonetisation which further jerked the capsizing ship of the grand old party. During post Mandal fallout, the multitudinous formation and fall of many govts in late 90s and also during Vajpayee government in power, Congress seemed to be a principal pole in the Indian politics and even when in opposition it was the central adhesive glue to which other opposition parties adhered itself to firmly.
May be acting as the main opposition when VP Singh govt was in power or during coalition era where Congress was the mainstay abound or fulcrum which Govts of Gowda and Hegde hovered and drove around. After demonetisation, Congress has tried to cobble up a united opposition to schedule a meet and press conference on December 27. Political parties across the nation barring a few preferred to give that platform a miss raising significant questions. The surreal boycott of the Congress is a sort of new evolution as it seems political parties are nervous to support them as it may seem as a hindrance to their image.
There may be three reasons for non conformity and no unity in the opposition. Firstly demonetisation and fight against black money is an issue parties cannot use as a weapon to portray themselves as those who are backing the dubiously grafted. Even if there is some level of discontent amongst the people because of implementation, a protest against the policy itself may back fire. Secondly opposition can’t be united when rivals across the spectrum have to be brought under the same roof. If Mamata is the only politician taking 27 December conference seriously, the Left will prescribe to surely give it a miss. SP and BSP cannot be brought on the same bandwagon even though both were unclear to join the call owing to the fact that the agenda for holding a United opposition was not made clear. Nitish Kumar too will be reluctant as he actually had praised the demonetisation policy and JD U party leader KC Tyagi hoped for a better implementation. With so much of cracks in the opposition, a complete picture of a protesting conference was never going to materialise.
However the third reason also is about the Congress party which may be seen as a burden especially when countering the govt on fighting anti corruption pitch is considered. It has itself become a symbol of corruption owing to an array of gigantic scams which had derailed UPA out of power. Add this taint to an immature leadership at the helm and the galvanising aura of bringing all parties together against the govt seemingly is an impossible aspect. Erstwhile Congress was atleast a formidable force to reckon with as it had a sizeable prevalence in the state govts. Today it is confined to just one major state and its capacity to project itself as a national party pertaining to evoke national issues goes into the back burner. The charismatic face in the form of Jayprakash Narayan which brought all opposition together then during Indira Gandhi has now a part time politician unsuccessfully trying to done the same attire. As you see Mamata Banarjee taking a centre stage, her nursing of national ambitions becomes clearly visible and seems to be using Congress as an opportunistic pawn in elevating herself probably into the national mainstream.
The failure of the supposed united front called upon by the congress in my opinion is a bigger disaster than 2014 electoral loss. Elections perhaps can be lost or won but the fact that it’s not treated as a national entity anymore is tremendously worrisome for Congress think tankers. The grand old party reminds me of the colonial British who seemed invincible at a certain point of time. Today they are second rate powers and going down by the day with respect to its global hegemony.