ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Now That Slogans Will Work No More

Now That Slogans Will Work No More (From a Special Correspondent) THIS must already be the season for the Prime Minister to begin a cautious stock-taking. The flood of populist emotions which she found surging to her side in the wake of the nationalisation of the 14 leading commercial banks has sustained her as long as it could. Following the victorious war over Bangladesh culminating in Pakistan's humiliating defeat, admiration for the Prime Minister reached its zenith by December 1971; the elections to the state assemblies in March 1972 proved to be an even greater walk-over for her than the Lok Sablia elections the previous year, Nobody in the Congress would dare to suggest that the glory for these electoral triumphs belonged anywhere else than the Prime Minister's quarters. As a party, the Congress remains as unreconstructed as ever; it is still a portmanteau of conflicting ideologies and motives. The feather-bedders and the crooks continue to inhabit the party as much as the saints and the dyed-in- the-wool socialists. Given its inherent contradictions, it would be impossible to forge the party into an effective vehicle for political mobilisation at the grassroots. Even when it moves forward, it does so only because the motive power has been provided by exogenous factors. When it triumphs, it is often because of an accidental bequest bestowed on someone at the top; the fallout reaches down to all layers of the party. Similarly, if things go wrong at the top, if the leaders commit a foux pay or are embroiled in scandals or tear one another apart in internecine factional quarrels, the consequence too becomes pervasive. From time to time, perfunctory talks take place on the theme of converting the party into cadre-based one; such talks have now entered their umpteenth year. By its very nature, the Congress seems destined to remain condemned to in- choateness; the heritage of the spoils system has a tyranny of its own.

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