Sun, 13 May 2012 08:20:29 GMT | By Amulya Ganguli

Absence of Big Idea leaves Congress without direction

Blaming factionalism for the Congress's recent electoral setbacks, as Sonia Gandhi has done, can be regarded as a somewhat facile explanation, considering that internal rifts have been a part of the party's genes dating back a century to the clashes between Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Gopal Krishna Gokhale, between Mahatma Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose and between Indira Gandhi and the so-called "syndicate", represented by the old guard in the Congress at that time.

Absence of Big Idea leaves Congress without direction

Besides these confrontations between the heavyweights at the national level, there were innumerable relatively minor tiffs lower down the scale as between A.K. Antony and K. Karunakaran in Kerala.

But it is necessary to remember that none of these seriously undermined the Congress.

On the contrary, it became an overpowering political presence at the time of independence and for at least two decades afterwards, and also in the 1970s and 1980s.

There were two reasons for this remarkable achievement. One was the presence of charismatic leaders at the top, whose popular appeal swept away the cobwebs of groupism, and the other was the articulation of the Big Idea, which represented the party's vision.

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