10 reasons why the Congress endures
A series of allegations, scams and election setbacks and everyone is predicting that it's gloom time for Congress party in the season of Radiagate.
But then few things are working in favour of the Congress party if looked at in a wider time-frame.
Sheela Bhatt takes a look at 10 of them...
1. There is no debate needed over the devastating harm dynastic politics is doing to Indian democracy but, most people would agree that the Gandhi dynasty is saving Congress from reducing it to a dysfunctional corrupt money making machine.
The Congress is a divided house and the Gandhi family binds it together. In fact, this can be a well-nurtured myth but the myth has turned it into truth because of Congressmen's slavish attitude to people who hold power.
The Gandhi family are the Congress's historical necessity, said an intellectual and senior leader of the party.
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Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
Congress, the only workable solution
2. All said and done, the Congress party's middle-of-the-road politics is what Indians want, admit even many leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party. Right wing or left wing politics is only fuelling radicals on both sides.
For a country like India, the Congress' politics, at least in theory, is the only workable solution.
Sonia has kept herself miles away from PM's policies
3. Sonia Gandhi has successfully kept herself miles away from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's foreign policy and economic policy. This is no mean achievement.
Even the Wikileaks cables show that the Americans didn't appreciate her reluctance to provide leadership over the Indo-US nuclear deal issue.
In public perception she does not emerge as having a cosy relation with the US establishment.
On the economic front, also, she is in 'confrontation' with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
While Rahul's sojourn to Dalit's homes is criticised and even ridiculed, critics of Congress appreciate Sonia's aam aadmi agenda through the National Advisory Council that she heads.
You can disagree with her economic views but even the BJP is very careful in dismissing Sonia's pet programmes like the NREGA.
Image: Congress chief Sonia Gandfhi
Sonia's grip over party is total
4. On the issue of leadership, the Congress is stronger than the BJP, it's arch rival. Sonia's grip over party is total.
The entire top leadership of Congress is "like furniture to enhance elegance of the party," says a Congress minister and a senior leader of the party.
The clarity about who is your leader and what he/she is up to helps any party, institution or company in focusing on core issues.
The BJP talks about collective leadership and joint-decision-making process etc that is actually way of camouflaging internal differences over who should take over the top post.
Cosmopolitan personalities are making the Congress click
In its top leadership, A K Antony, a Keralite Christian is softer to Hindu voters; P Chidambaram, a Tamil Chettiar is a hawk with Pakistan; Pranab Mukherjee, a Bengali Brahmin is master of finding possibilities in impossible-looking situations in Indian politics.
If you see decades-old growth trajectory of top ten leaders of Congress today outside the Gandhi family it suggests how cosmopolitan personalities are making the Congress click.
Image: Party troubleshooters Pranab Mukherjee and A K Antony
Sonia type of pro-poor political posturing is welcome
6. Whatever the BJP claims but none its leaders has so far portrayed the sensitivity to issues related exclusively to poor and lower middle class.
NREGA, RTI, free primary education and food security are issues that Congress has brought into the national debate and even in the pink newspapers.
The difference between India and China is only one. China has less than 15 per cent poor; India has almost 40 per cent population on or below the poverty line.
This reality means that the Congress or Sonia Gandhi type of pro-poor political posturing is welcome.
Image: Sonia Gandhi type of pro-poor political posturing is welcome.
Congress has the amazing ability to survive
However, unlike the common men, their seasoned leaders' lust of power is first thing that hits you between the eyes. Their arrogance that they know how to rule also gives them an aggressive survival streak.
They are unrelenting creatures just made for politicking. The 2G spectrum can come and go.
Image: The Congress has survival instincts like the average Indian
They have seen it all, done it all
There is hardly any political event or emotion that is new to them. They have seen it all, done it all.
The party has suffered assassinations of their tallest leaders, have faced the worst kind of corruption allegations in defence deals and it has seen petty criminals in it's rank and file causing havoc to the party image.
The party has brazened out even suitcase full of bribe money being carried inside a Congress prime minister's office.
So when one talks about the Congress one knows that this party has its own momentum and even Sonia Gandhi's great grandsons won't be able to inject any radical changes in it.
Keeping the Americans at bay
9. One must take note of Congress's invisible and wily mechanism that does not allow Americans to have their way in Indian administration.
India is not signing important contracts like the Communication Inter-operability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA).
One is not sure how long they will be able to resist but it shows that the party has ability to sustain Antony type of 'old-timers' in the highly Americanised world of defence systems. The Congress is frustrating in that sense that it's old hacks and old habits just doesn't go home.
Image: Manmoahn Singh (right) with Sonia Gandhi
Congress has a crafty and cunning DNA
10. Give the devil credit where it's due. The Congress has crafty and cunning DNA to cut the opposition to size. It survives largely on moral bankruptcy, weaknesses of leadership and lack of unity of the Indian opposition.
Except on the issue of corruption, the Indian opposition is not as clever in demonising Congress like the Congress party can with panache.
Watch out for Saturday's feature on how the Congress is losing state after state