Revival march

The ‘aam admi’ that the Congress discovered ahead of its campaign for the 2004 parliamentary elections is not a fictional character in the Indian political theatre. He is real. To know that he exists, our politicians have to reach out to him. And, he matters, too. Congress president Sonia Gandhi undertook extensive ‘road-shows’ across the country to send out the message that her party cares for this ‘aam admi’. The result was instant: the Congress got itself rehabilitated as the ruling party in Delhi after a gap of eight years. At that time the party leadership in Karnataka didn’t think it required to wear the ‘aam admi’ badge. After all, it was the ruling party in the state.

Its misfortune that year, however, was that power slipped out of its hands in the Assembly polls held simultaneously with the parliamentary elections. The Congress is yet to taste an electoral victory in Karnataka ever since the 2004 debacle. Desperation set in the face of successive poll reverses over a period of six years. The ‘aam admi’ might have begun to fade from the central leadership’s memory in the wake of its firm grip over power at the Centre since 2004. But in Karnataka it is time for the local leadership to introspect and rediscover the ‘aam admi’ magic.

Notwithstanding the avowed objective of cornering the Reddy brothers in the Yeddurappa-led BJP government over the alleged illegalities in their mining business in Bellary, the state Congress’ just-concluded Bangalore-Bellary padayatra was essentially about reviving the sagging fortunes of the party. The 16-day march symbolised an attempt on the part of its leaders to reconnect with the masses from whom it had got alienated for myriad reasons. It provided an opportunity for the perpetually squabbling leaders to forge unity of purpose and galvanise the dormant party workers. The momentum generated has to be sustained. To skeptics that is a tall order. For one, as it is with its rivals, money power has also afflicted the party and this does not help reassure either the ordinary Congress worker or the ‘aam admi’. While it may be too early to conclude if the Gandhian method of mobilising political support and acquiring organisational strength has signaled a turnaround for the party, there is no doubt that it has instilled self-belief among state Congressmen that they can regain the ground they had lost to the BJP and JD(S) rivals.

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