Congress – What a Mighty Fall

One of the defining events of modern India over the last six decades is the decline of the Congress party as a force in Indian politics.

Congress has seen an alarming decline in the total percentage of votes polled and the number of seats won in the Lok Sabha parliamentary elections.

The decline of Congress in Indian politics mirrors the decline of institutional structures and procedures in the Indian political arena and replacement of first generation leaders by a class of venal politicians for whom politics was merely an arena for personal aggrandizement.

The below table compiled from Election Commission of India data shows the extent of Congress’ fall over the years.

Congress Mighty Fall

What an irony that the Congress party, once home to leaders of stature like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, now includes the likes of Rahul Gandhi with little achievement to his credit.

The sad corollary of Congress’ decline is the rise of communal parties like BJP, dependence on regional parties for the survival of its government at the center and serving as a poor role model for other ‘family parties’ like DMK.

12 Responses to "Congress – What a Mighty Fall"

  1. aditya_k   March 3, 2009 at 3:36 am

    Did you hear about this? Sri lankan cricket team touring Pakistan was attacked today in the morning. Their bus was ambushed by terrorists armed with rocket-launchers & machine-guns in Lahore.5 of the cricketers were injured.

    Man!India was scheduled to go on this tour,but canceled due to attacks on Mumbai,Sri lanka had stepped in to fill the void. Poor chaps!! Responds:

    Yeah, read about the attack on WSJ before we went to bed last night (yes, Wall Street Journal had it on the front page of their online edition).

    Looks like Pak is now trying to blame India. Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows what RAW is up to?

    Pak society is on the brink of collapse.

    Despite all the problems of poverty, corruption and communal strife, India is a gazillion times more stable as a society and country. Does this stability have anything to do with Hinduism being the majority religion (fosters a fatalistic acceptance of your place in society). Possible.

  2. aditya_k   March 3, 2009 at 4:53 am

    have a look at this… Responds:

    Nice piece. Must read… Thanks. We like M.J.Akbar – have read two of his books – the Nehru biography and a macro-book one on India (can’t remember the name).

    For those too lazy to click on the above link, here’s an excerpt:

    The UPA Government, through its economic spokesman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, has sold us the bait that poverty has gone down under its watch. Fact: The number of people living below the poverty line has actually increased by a horrifying 20 per cent. India had some 270 million people below the poverty line in 2004-5, when the present Government took office. That number has gone up by 55 million, or 20 per cent, after five years of policies named after the ‘aam admi’ (common man) but shaped for the ‘khaas admi’ (vested interests).

    ….The economic map of India has shifted the axis of tension. The old notional north-south line that divided the country into broad politico-cultural halves is passé. There is a new poverty diagonal that separates the nation on a north-west to south-east arc. The India to the east is sinking towards Bangladesh and Burma; India to the west is rising, and becoming the stuff of popular aspiration and fantasy.

    ….Rising India might be under a cloud for the last six months, but Stagnant India has been in gloom for years. There is little coverage of this gloom since media is driven by advertising; advertising is interested in consumption, and the hungry do not even consume food.

  3. SRINIVAS   March 3, 2009 at 5:24 am

    Decline of Congress is responsible for growth of Regional parties …since Congress as such never paid attention to the whole of India ….now this is partly perception and mostly fact …..considering the regional imbalance when it comes to development ……

    BJP has come up as a result of divide and rule, communalism practised by Congress …….and to some extent the left parties …..

    When congress started to divide Punjabis into Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab/Haryana and Delhi ….Akalis and Jan Sangh were the uniting force ….

    When 800 boys and girls were gunned down in ASSAM ….only for demanding that infiltration from Bangladesh stop ….and illegal Immigrants send back …..Asam Gana Parishad (AGP) ….ULFA came into being ….. BJP is the only party which is battling for Indians in Assam AND Not for Bangladeshis ….Indian Army is fighting the ULFA (Assamese) to protect whom ??? …Bangladeshis? …..

    When more than 3 million Pandits were driven away from Kashmir …Farooq Abdullah played Golf …..BJP was the only party which came to their resuce ….

    When Missionaries were busy converting and the Church aiding / promoting Insurgency in the North East ….Congress was busy sleeping ….and parroting secularism ……it’s the RSS which took on the Church ….

    Jawarhalal Nehru demolished the mosque and built Somnath Temple in Gujarat ….nobody objected ….Ayodhya always had Ram and Sita idols in the structure ….later on called as Babri Mosque ….the Congress Govt declared that as a Mosque ….disputed site ….stopped people from worshipping ….locked the temple ….. when people objected they were branded as communal …..finally …at some point in time Rajiv Gandhi opened the locks …..Chandrasekar Govt called VHP and All India Muslim board ….so that they can prove with Evidence ….

    VHP brought Archeological evidence to prove their claim

    Muslims ….Ram was born in Egpyt …king of Afghanistan ….never came to Ayodhya etc etc ….

    Muslims withdrew from talks and talks broke down ….this finally led to the Mosque Demolition ….

    So …all the above will tell you ….who is communal and who is not ….

    It’s the divide and rule policies of the Congress which is the most communal / corrupt party in India …that is responsible for the mess in which this country is today …..Right from Partition when they divided the country just because Jinnah said so ….they have been doing that quite successfully ……making people believe that only they are good and everybody else is a threat to the country … Responds:

    You write above: Congress which is the most communal / corrupt party in India

    On the corruption front, the other Indian political parties are no different.

    BJP (remember Tehelka), DMK (remember Sarkaria Commission)…

  4. joeantony   March 3, 2009 at 8:24 am

    S.I. : On the corruption front, the other Indian political parties are no different.

    True… its all the cards they play are different or atleast posed as different to get votes and beat others to come to power …when come to power they do the same…

    the BJP supporters are talking about the psedo secularism of congress.. they were no different when they were in power for 6 years… they never took a single step to build any ram temple or atleast to solve the conflict, they fortified relationship with pakistan more than any congress government.. Actually all they want from monkey senas is cheap labour work during campaign time … BJP is using RSS to gain votes… but they are actually a 100% political party on par with congress.. I don’t see any difference between these two in term of economic and social policies.. the way to power only differs.

  5. whatwhenwhy   March 3, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Why is BJP considered communal?

    Godhra riots are projected to be atrocities on Muslims and almost all the mention of the incident in the media only talks about Muslim ‘genocide’ and no one talks about WHY that happened. It was a reaction to the burning of karsevaks.

    When you read any news item related to Kandhamal in Orrisa, they always talk about Christians being attacked. This again was a reaction to the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati.

    Now BJP talks from saving the Hindu religion and Hindus from all kinds of attacks perpetuated by Muslims and Christians and this is given a communal color by the media. It is sad that even educated people buy into this ridiculously biased media, which by the way is mostly owned by other nations (read Christians). Checkout this link for more info on the ownership facts. Responds:

    1. You write above: Why is BJP considered communal?

    Simple – Because they are communal.

    Let’s take one example – Ram Janmabhoomi – Ayodhya issue. Who knows whether Ram really existed or if the whole thing is a myth.

    Yet, the BJP clowns whip up a communal frenzy and polarize the idiots on both sides (Hindus & Muslims) and create a deep sense of insecurity in the minorities.

    2. You write: It was a reaction to the burning of karsevaks

    On the burning of Karsevaks, there’s considerable doubt whether there was a Muslim conspiracy. Please read this BBC story on the Umesh Chandra Banerjee committee, which said the fire was accidental.

    Also read this article in Hindu’s Frontline.

    3. Does that mean Christians and Muslims are saints?

    No. Stupidity is not restricted to Hindus alone. It’s possible foreign-funded missionaries are engaging in conversion or other nonsense in the North-East.

    Of course, this conversion nonsense is mostly motivated by money.

    To modify a famous quote from William Cowper, No man can be religious on an empty stomach.

    4. You write: Now BJP talks from saving the Hindu religion and Hindus from all kinds of attacks perpetuated by Muslims and Christians and this is given a communal color by the media

    Some Hindus are communal. Who do you think went and attacked the Australian missionary in Orissa and set fire to the vehicle leading to the death of Graham Staines and his young children.

    5. No, we do not believe that nonsense about Indian media being controlled by Christians. Total rubbish.

    6. Bottomline, anyone who believes in all this nonsense about Ram, Christ or Allah is a ‘sinner’ for wasting time and money on frivolous pursuits.

    Religion is for idiots and cowards.

  6. whatwhenwhy   March 3, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I am surprised that you have accepted the notion that the fire could have been an accident.

    1. That story was published by BBC which I do not believe anyway. (just like you do not believe that Indian media is controlled by Christians even though I have tried to show you the facts — via the link).
    2. Let us for a second assume that the bogies were on fire accidentally and the blaze continued to consume all its passengers, dont you think this needs some kind of fuel? what kept it burning for so long? (It was reported that the muslim mob threw petrol bombs and that was what kept it burning.)
    3. If the bogies were on fire, why did the passengers not try to escape? (It was reported that the muslim mob was pelting stones). FYI. All the passengers were charred to death.
    4. If you were on these trains, you might have noticed that the bogies cannot be locked from the outside and still there is no account of any of the passenger escaping the accidental fire!
    5. The damned accidental fire had to scorch the bogies which kar sevaks occupied, who were returning from Ayodhya. Wow!

    The two things I strongly agree with you are:
    1.No man can be religious on an empty stomach.
    2. your #6. Responds:

    1. You write: I am surprised that you have accepted the notion that the fire could have been an accident.

    Why is it a surprise? Are the Hindus saints that they won’t cook up facts (even if the fire was accidental) to hurt the Muslims. Some sections of Indian Hindus are rabidly communal.

    2. You write: you do not believe that Indian media is controlled by Christians even though I have tried to show you the facts — via the link

    Get your facts right.

    The ‘facts’ you provide (a link to a blog) contain some erroneous info. For instance, India Today group sold its Radio Today business to NDTV, not the whole company.

    3. You write: That story was published by BBC which I do not believe anyway

    Don’t be silly. The BBC is not the same as some guy/gal sitting in his cheddi/panty typing nonsense.

    4. In war, communal/violent incidents or even horrific accidents, the first casualty is truth. We’re not saying Muslims did not do it. We are saying there is an alternate viewpoint expressed by learned people.

  7. kreacher   March 3, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    The BJP is perceived as a communal party and quite rightly so, since it has often been guilty of perpetrating religion-instigated crimes.

    However, if you look at all the governments that India has had so far, the NDA government was most unique from the development perspective. Most governments focus on populist measures to boost vote banks, like 2 Rs/- per kilo of rice, free electricity to farmers and so on. But the NDA’s focus was on infrastructure. Lots of roads were built – the Golden Quadrilateral was started, as were the North-South and East-West Corridor, ailing public sector companies were privatized (not always rightly, though), several bureaucratic processes were cut short and the middle-class could really see its tax money put to good use. Of course, the downside of focusing on enhanced infrastructure is that the effects are not immediately felt. I mean, a good road would facilitate quicker transport of a farmer’s produce to the city, but the farmer would not see much of an immediate direct monetary impact due to this. This is a bit difficult to explain in a blog comment, but I hope you get some of the picture.

    As a result by election time the lower class, which is not the tax-paying class but is the major voting class by a huge margin, saw that not much had happened to improve its state in 5 years and they gave the government an emphatic thumbs-down. And so a government that was truly progressive in every area but communal was voted out of power.

    Yes, issues like corruption persist in every government, but as residents of Tamilnadu would point out, the corrupt governments still ensured that the development of the state was underway. Sadly, the oldest political party in India is least interested in furthering development. Leaders like Nehru and Patel were visionaries – they established a lot of policies that were socialist in nature, but put India on the track to development. Even Nehru’s grandson had something positive to contribute (he sowed the seeds for Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh to open up the Indian economy), but the last survivors of his clan are simply useless. Responds:

    You write above: Most governments focus on populist measures to boost vote banks, like 2 Rs/- per kilo of rice, free electricity to farmers and so on

    There is a lot of media and middle-class contempt for these so-called populist schemes that help the poor.

    Of late, we’ve started thinking that any scheme is fine if it helps the poor.

    The poor live on a day-to-day basis.

    Their hard lives leave no room for luxuries like long-term outlook or infrastructure-building.

    It’s good to have Rs 2 per kg rice, mid-day meal scheme, loan melas et al. In any case, most development schemes are targeted at the vocal classes – middle class and upper class.

    After 62 years of building ‘temples of modern India’ and five-year plans, about 300 million Indians still live in abject misery. They deserve help now, not the promise of a distant utopia when some ‘golden quadrilateral’ highway or ‘silver triangle’ highway is built.

    Bottomline, we’re starting to believe this disdain for ‘populist schemes’ is middle-class balderdash totally divorced from the reality of the misery of the rural and urban poor.

  8. SRINIVAS   March 5, 2009 at 6:23 am

    SI : On the burning of Karsevaks, there’s considerable doubt whether there was a Muslim conspiracy. Please read this BBC story on the Umesh Chandra Banerjee committee, which said the fire was accidental.

    I have already responded to this in one of my previous post with links …..why dont you put that link of our entire converstion …so that people get both the sides of the story

    Some more from Arun Shourie – about the performance of Congress on the economic front . This article is in four parts . I have pasted the first link only …you will get the others in Indian Express website Responds:

    Here’s the link to some of your earlier comments on Godhra.

    We’ll read the Arun Shourie piece in your link later today.

  9. SRINIVAS   March 5, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Read further ….

    Loot for poll gains is passé – now this is to subsidise ….but the way NDA govt did it was diff ….

    It allowed Oil companies to charge market prices …then Oil companies used to pay dividends to the Govt ….the Govt used that money to subsidise essential items …thus prices were low ….. The great Congress Govt dismantled that mechanism – APM -and that had resulted in Navratna’s — going towards bankruptcy ….the govt as usual issued Financial bonds …so an accounting entry was made and that’s it !!!!

    This is Manmohan / Chidambaram style of Economics …..Now where’s the actual Money ??? Responds:

    A case of the headline being sexier than the story.

    Excerpt from DNA story:

    The cash was essentially taken out to subsidise the losses of oil marketing companies like Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum. These companies have been forced by the government to sell kerosene, cooking gas and even diesel below cost price on political considerations.

    We think there’s nothing wrong in subsidizing the price of kerosene (used a lot by the poor).

  10. SRINIVAS   March 5, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    this is one more ….from a BJP Basher Responds:

    We read this piece the other day…someone had posted a link.

    Akbar makes a cogemt argument in this piece.

  11. SRINIVAS   March 6, 2009 at 12:22 am

    SI :We think there’s nothing wrong in subsidizing the price of kerosene (used a lot by the poor).

    Of course …I also agree ….But the way they did it was wrong …. I have also mentioned how NDA did it ..I will elaborate furhter

    NDA method : Allow Oil companies to charge market prices ….more the price …more the profit ….govt is the major shareholder ….so now ask them to declare hefty dividends from profits …..use this money to subsidise all those essential items used by the poor ….in this method …..the oil companies do well …subsidy also reaches the poor ….so its well targetted subsidy ….whcih goes only to those who cannot afford ….those who deserve it ….

    Now see how the Congress govt did it after scrapping the earlier method …..

    Ask Oil companies to sell thier products below mfg costs ….so losses …losses …to such a extent that the chairman of ONGC had to come out and say that he does not have enough money to pay salaries after three weeks ……if the govt does not take immediate measures …… Ask Oil companies to sell it to all and sundry at lower price …..for political considerations … subsidy is not targeted at the poor ……….the whole meaning of SUBSIDY …goes for a toss ….Take an example …I am well to do and I have two cars …For a temp period I should not mind paying market prices for petrol …..or lower my consumption …….but that’s also subsidised as if I cant do without it ….. THIS IS POLITICAL CONSIDERATION ….for votes …..BUT AT WHAT COST ???? ….you can do this only for some time …..FINALLY YOU WILL RUN OUT OF CASH …..that’s what happened …..

    Now the companies dont have enough money to meet even thier working capital requirements …So how will they produce goods ???? ….GOVT has no money either ??? …SO WHAT ???

    VERY SIMPLE ….ISSUE BONDS ….MAKE AN ACCOUNTING ENTRY IN THE BOOKS AND THAT”S DONE …. GOVT WHICH HAS NO MONEY SAYS …..I will take over all your losses ….take these bonds in return ….which you can encash at a later date ….SO FEW PAPERS EXCHANGED ….NOW WHERE is THE MONEY ???? ……SO AGAIN GOVT DOLES ….USE some other Navratna to support this Navratna ….keep doing such nonsense ….till that NAvratna also goes PHUT …..OR WAIT FOR OIL PRICES TO GO DOWN ….

    This is done by the great Chidambaram / Manmohan …. Concern for Poor OR Concern for VOTES ??? ….

    Get this very clear ….India in itself is a Poor Country ……so there is a limit to which you can subsidise or give doles …..beyond which you will end up like PAKISTAN …Basket case ….

    GOVT schemes have to be targetted towards generating / increasing the purchasing power of the poor …..let them buy what they can afford ….over a period of time …they will be able to buy more …..

    Current schemes are designed to keep them perpetually poor ….dependent on Govt always …..

    Every Pongal the CM give Dresses …veshti/saree to the poor ….the joke here is that ….while he has grown old and is still doing this ……people who stand in queue to collect this every year have also grown old ….and now they are standing there with the next generation in tow ….This is precisely what they want ….EVERY MEMBER OF THE GANDHI FAMILY from Indira TO SONIA GANDHI has the same slogan …..GARIBI HATAO ….AAM AADMI ….if they continue …..this slogan will heard for another 200 yrs … Responds:

    For Shining India or Incredible India, it’s not Garibi Hatao but Garib Hatao.

    Few leaders like Lee Kuan Yew managed Garibi Hatao successfully. But of course Singapore is a much smaller nation.

  12. jebamani mohanraj   April 7, 2009 at 6:33 am

    this is not the indian national congress.

    in 1969 the INC removed indira gandhi from the primary membership of the INC for anti party activities. she defeated the congress party nominee by opting for vv giri. since then whatever party indira points has become the cannot claim the legacy of a hundred year old party. it was started in 1969 and again in 1978 indira floated one more congress.since then she started having alliance with the regional parties in order to defeat veteran cong leaders. in tamil nadu she aligned with DMK to defeat kamaraj. now in 2009, the party has aligned with VCK . the leader of vck very recently vowed to finish off congi from tamil nadu and that leader is very to LTTE of srilanka. how can you call this party which does not have any policy as congress. now lalu has snubbed cong and the party if defeated in this election will seize to exist Responds:

    Interesting point.

    One of these days we’ll do a post on the Congress.

    If you are serious about understanding the Congress’ role in Indian politics, you ought to read some of Rajni Kothari’s pieces in Asian Survey and subsequently elaborated in Politics in India as well as his later essays.

    We haven’t seen any article as interesting as Kothari’s Dominant Party System essay on the Congress.

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