If the Congress, which is licking its wounds after a thorough bashing in five state assembly polls, wants to find out just what is going wrong with it, it needs to look no further than Uttarakhand, the state where it was widely expected to win a majority but limped to secure single largest party status by one seat.
Not having learnt its lessons, the party proceeded to ignore all signs from the state unit and decided to install Vijay Bahuguna, a virtual outsider to the state’s politics, as chief minister. Rival factions are up in arms and it appears that only a miracle will enable his government to survive. Bahuguna, who resigned as a Bombay high court judge more than 15 years ago and fled the city overnight under a cloud of controversy, symbolises everything that is wrong with the grand old party — corruption, nepotism, and sycophancy (he is son of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister HN Bahuguna, and his sister Rita is one of the first family’s foremost dogs of war.)
While even the BJP, whatever else it may be accused of, has a host of strong regional leaders, the Congress can hardly boast of any, barring perhaps Sheila Dikshit. All that is required to become chief minister of a Congress-ruled state, it seems, is the ‘blessings’ of the high command, merit be damned.
It is these habits of parachuting so-called star campaigners who alienate the local electorate instead of winning it over and installing remote-controlled puppets who know nothing about the ground realities in the states they are supposed to rule that are costing the Congress dearly in election after election. This high-handed attitude may eventually cost it dearly at the Centre too, what with the 2014 general election likely to be the sum of various key state results.