Hyderabad: An electorally-battered Congress has to rediscover street and agitational politics to resurrect itself, taking the drubbing it received in the Lok Sabha elections as an opportunity to restructure and focus on the new generation, says senior leader Jairam Ramesh.
The former Union Minister also said there is no uncertainty over Rahul Gandhi stepping into the shoes of his mother to become Congress president, which is only a matter of time.
“The Congress is an old organisation. It’s been around and it has been in power for a long time. It has to (now) rediscover agitational politics. Congress has been a party of governance for a long time.
“Now, it finds itself in a position where it has to rediscover for itself, for street politics, agitational politics. It has to rediscover the politics of kisans for example. So, I think that’s going to be a big challenge for us,” Ramesh told PTI in an interview here.
Ramesh who held the vital Rural Development and Environment portfolios in the UPA government, noted that restructuring rarely takes place when parties are in power, and it takes place when they are out of power.
“And here is an opportunity for us and the Land Acquisition Amendments Bill is a sort of ‘sanjeevini’ (elixir) for us, like Chikmagalur (from where Indira Gandhi was elected to the Lok Sabha in a by-election) was the ‘sanjeevini’ for the Congress in 1978,” he said.
Ramesh said Rahul Gandhi would become Congress president “sooner or later” and there is no other contender for the post.
“There is no uncertainty (over Rahul becoming Congress President). There is uncertainty in some other candidate for Congress President. There is only one (Rahul Gandhi).
“The day Congress president decides to step down, there is only one Vice-President, there are no two Vice-Presidents in the Congress party. Question is on timing...when he is going to...and the modality,” he said.
Dismissing suggestions that Rahul Gandhi does not have it in him to play a long innings in politics, Ramesh described him as a “marathon man of Indian politics.” “I have said it earlier and I repeat it. He (Rahul Gandhi) is a marathon man. He is there for a long haul.
“Looking at politics not only from the prism of government...looking at politics as instrument of fulfilling social objectives which political parties should have, I think Mr Gandhi will bring a freshness of purpose in whatever he does,” he said.
Ramesh said post-Lok Sabha polls, where the party put up its worst performance winning just 44 seats, the accent and focus are certainly on the new generation.
“I think it’s inevitable. Every 20 years, every 25 years, this organisational renewal has to take place. The 60 year-olds, 70-year-olds and 80-year-olds cannot renew organisation. Organisational renewal comes from 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds and 40-year-olds,” he said.
But Ramesh also said that the Congress is also a party of experienced leaders, adding, there is always a “blend” (of experience and youth). “So, it’s no purge; it’s a blend.” He also said the party’s performance in the last Lok Sabha elections was shockingly unexpected.
“We obviously underestimated the undercurrent of desire for change after ten years...very strong
anti-incumbency...very aggressive campaigning and selling of dreams by Modi.
“Clearly we were out-funded. I have no hesitation in saying...may be we were out-funded by a factor of seven or eight in the elections. And the result is we crashed to our worst defeat. Modi is a demagogue. He is a super marketer and he was able to sell his ideas and that made the difference,” Ramesh added.