'Kanyakumari is the tip of India and will convey the symbol that from the tip of India, the Congress is on its way up.'
"The Gandhi family, especially, Priyanka Gandhi has a lot of goodwill in Tamil Nadu. There is a lot of empathy and sympathy for her personal turmoil due to the unfortunate assassination of her father in Tamil Nadu."
Karti Chidambaram, the first time member of Parliament from Sivanganga in Tamil Nadu, discusses what the Congress party needs to do to revive itself in the final segment of an exclusive three-part interview with Rediff.com's Archana Masih.
- Part 1: 'BJP is advocating a Hindu Rashtra aggressively'
- Part 2: 'I am the most raided person in India'
You said that Priyanka Gandhi should contest the Kanyakumari by-election. Why do you think she should leave Uttar Pradesh, the state she represents as general secretary and contest from Tamil Nadu?
We need to do something to capture the imagination of the Congress cadre in India.
The average Congress cadre does not want to contest the election. 99% of the cadre of any party does not contest elections, only 1% contests the MLA or MP elections.
We need to fire the imagination of our cadre. What have we done to enthuse them to stand up and speak when s/he goes to her/his village tea shop?
An out-of-the-box idea of Priyanka Gandhi contesting a by-election from Kanyakumar will be very symbolic.
Kanyakumari is the tip of India and will convey the symbol that from the tip of India, the Congress is on its way up.
It will also send a very strong signal to our alliance before the assembly election.
The Gandhi family, especially, Priyanka Gandhi has a lot of goodwill in Tamil Nadu. There is a lot of empathy and sympathy for her personal turmoil due to the unfortunate assassination of her father in Tamil Nadu.
Her voice in Parliament will make very good impact both inside and outside the House. She can continue to remain general secretary of UP and be an MP from Tamil Nadu.
Are Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi still the only ones who can fire the imagination of the Congress cadre?
I am not saying they are the only ones who can fire the imagination. Whether the media accepts it or not, the average cadre still believes that the Gandhi family is the glue that keeps the Congress party together.
You might criticise the Congress for this, but this is the fact.
If you ask the cadre of the Congress who would they like as leader the party, they will say the Gandhis. This is the psyche and DNA of the party.
Let me also point out that this is not unique to the Congress. Every political party from Kashmir to Kanyakumari -- PDP, NC, Akali Dal, SP, RJD, LJP, INLD, RLD, JMM, BJD, TMC, NPP, Shiv Sena, NCP, JD-S, TRS, TDP, YSR Congress, DMK, etc -- are all centred around some family or the other.
The BJP may not have this phenomena at the national level, but the party has dynastic leaders at many sub-levels levels in the party.
Somehow, the Congress is singled out for leadership coming from only one family when every other political party is the same.
This is not only peculiar to India, but a South Asian phenomena. In Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa is PM, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is president and both their sons are ministers.
In Pakistan, the PPP chief is Bilawal Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam is leading the PML-N. It is the same in Bangladesh.
We can't view our part of the world from a Western democracy perspective; there is a sociological aspect too.
You have said before that if there was an election in the Congress party, Rahul Gandhi would win.
I completely believe that Rahul Gandhi will be elected unanimously and unopposed if there is an election in the Congress party today.
That is the reality.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com