Democracy needs an opposition. India needs an opposition. The Modi government needs an opposition. With a credible opposition the government’s performance would further improve. The Indian National Congress (INC) should have played the role of an opposition. The Congress is dead. It cannot revive. It can only be reinvented to play a proper opposition role. There is rumbling and discontent within the party. The leadership is being criticized. Mr. G Vasan has split the Tamil Nadu Congress to float his own party. Criticism of the leadership is futile. Critics must present a concrete agenda for change that can revive the Congress. Nobody is doing that. The following steps are suggested for the Congress to reinvent itself and revive.
First, the Congress leadership must create a new party. It may be called the Indian Federal Congress (IFC). The new party should in the first instance contest only parliamentary elections. The INC should be a constituent of the IFC. All regional parties including the INC might contest assembly polls under their own symbols but parliamentary elections only under a new common IFC symbol. The major regional party from each state should be invited to join the IFC. All assembly elections in a particular state may be contested by all IFC partners only under the symbol of the dominant regional party. All parliamentary candidates from each state may contest elections only under the IFC symbol. To implement this arrangement a suitable party constitution and policy agenda would need to be framed which can be done in one day.
Secondly, the INC should convene an all India convention of all regional parties to discuss this proposal. Norms for selecting poll candidates to ensure adequate say for regional parties as well as effective monitoring by the IFC parliamentary board, composed of representatives of the regional parties, would be laid down in the IFC constitution.
Thirdly, all the MPs in parliament belonging to all the IFC member parties should make a united parliamentary block, register the new party, and seek recognition by the Speaker. All the MPs of the IFC might then through an open and transparent election according to norms laid down in the IFC constitution elect the Leader of the Opposition.
Fourthly, the IFC could by January, when the Delhi assembly polls will be held, take shape and challenge the BJP. Hopefully the Aam Admi Party (AAP) would be the Delhi regional constituent of the IFC. One can predict that the IFC would pose a formidable challenge if not outright victory in the Delhi polls. The march towards creating a national alternative would commence full speed ahead. Later by their own choice regional parties could merge fully with the IFC if it is perceived being advantageous.
All this of course is purely theoretical. Present prospects of the Congress taking remedial action are virtually non-existent. Many more revolts on the lines of Mr. G Vasan’s action will probably have to occur before any among Congress leaders wakes up to act for survival.