Sonia Gandhi is fighting a losing battle for Rashtrapati Bhavan

Sonia Gandhi is fighting a losing battle for Rashtrapati Bhavan

First published in @ABPNewsTV click here to read original article

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had to pull herself out of her rest and recuperation regime to mobilise disparate opposition groups for the coming Presidential election. That this is a poor reflection on her son Rahul Gandhi, who is reportedly once again getting ready for an official coronation, is another matter.

Had Rahul Gandhi, instead of His mother, had taken the lead in rallying the opposition, it would have clearly announced his arrival. But obviously discretion prevailed. This is a tacit admission on part of the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family that he does not command the necessary respect despite being the de facto leader of the largest party in the Opposition.

What is significant, however, is that Congress and the opposition still think that putting up a joint front is the only way to counter the now seemingly unstoppable march of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.

Interestingly, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, after his EVM-tampering rant, has realised that salvation does not lie in a single-point agenda of attacking Modi. He has publicly acknowledged the need for returning to the drawing board and recalibrating AAP's strategy to bring it in line with changing electoral expectations. Unfortunately, the veterans are still living in denial.

Be that as it may, how does it benefit the Congress to forge a coalition for a losing battle? By putting itself in the forefront, the Congress is almost adopting a still born baby even at the stage of conception.

The only party that stands to benefit from the deal is, arguably, the Trinamool Congress and its leader Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal. It will once again underscore Mamata’s indispensability and enhance her national stature.

Mamata Banerjee is, perhaps, the only politician who would not have come around, if BJP were to offer the olive branch for consensus, barring possibly the choice of Pranab Mukherjee for a second term. The only useful purpose Sonia Gandhi will serve at this point is to act as a bridge between the Left and TMC, which would not have otherwise supped together, especially now that even Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav is on a wobbly wicket.

No wonder, therefore, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechuri was one of the first to knock at Sonia’s door after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results. But even Sonia’s intervention may not ensure everyone else, like the TRS or the BJD (which is facing an implosion) will come on board.

Having stepped forward, there is an opportunity that Sonia Gandhi is missing to establish her reputation for posterity as a statesman and a “go to” matriarch of the opposition even after she steps down as Congress president. She could have done that by signalling a desire for dialogue with the BJP to have a unified candidate as the next President.

It is, of course, conceivable that Modi and Shah would have rejected such an overture but it would have put her on a higher moral plane, exposing the BJP’s unwillingness for bi-partisanship and, thereby, vindicating the Congress’s earlier non-cooperation posture. Most importantly, for Sonia Gandhi, it could have been like her 2004 moment of renunciation.

No doubt the results of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly and now the Delhi municipal elections have changed life in India. Politicians and the BJP-unfriendly media are still recovering from the jolt. While the media are trying to clutch at stray straws in the wind like cow vigilantism and biometric records, the politicians are still in coma.

The cure for coming out of coma, as this blogger has articulated in the past, is not to put together a rag-tag army of battered generals but to reinvent the game. But the eyesight of even otherwise myopic septuagenarian politicians is so severely impaired by the 'Modi cataract' that they are unable to look beyond two months.

The advent of Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh signals that the BJP and the RSS are looking at a future beyond the Modi era. At this time the opposition cannot remain stuck in the past. The Congress, above all, has little ammunition left to waste on lost battles, egged on by some opportunist allies like the Left, who have little at stake and even less to contribute.

The Congress should instead conserve resources and set its own house in order rather than inviting another ignominious defeat that would set it back by a couple of years more.

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