One of the principal factors, which has been working in favour of the Union government, regarding the manner in which it has been dealing with the unfolding Covid-19 crisis, is that the Congress which is the primary opposition in the country lacks credibility to attack it. There have been innumerable shortcomings in the Centre’s approach, which at times has been absolutely ambiguous and clueless, but the absence of a clear command structure within the Congress has allowed it to get away. In fact, the opinion of political analysts and independent observers has carried more weightage than the views expressed by various top functionaries of the Congress. The problem within the grand old party is that it continues to look towards the Gandhis to inspire them, instead of coordinating the Opposition response with leading political heavyweights, drawn from a collective Opposition.
It is not a family secret any longer that the Gandhis are not seen any more as vote catchers by the people, which has been amply demonstrated by the past two Lok Sabha results. Therefore, any comment coming from them tends not to be taken seriously even by grassroots workers of the organisation. For the masses, Narendra Modi continues to be the sole national leader whose popularity may have diminished a bit going by the critical messages on the social media concerning his government’s response to the carona war, but his status on the top is unchallenged. Thus, any off the cuff jibe at him or his government, especially coming from the Congress, does not work very well at the ground level. The problem which needs to be overcome by the Congress immediately is to seriously address the lacunas in the way its party governments have addressed the issue in their respective states. Leaders from Jharkhand for instance are stating that the administration is least sympathetic towards the plight of migrants who are wishing to return home. In Maharashtra, the Congress is a part of the coalition, and has been unable to secure relief for lakhs of labourers stranded there.
Similarly, in Punjab, Poorvanchalis have left for their respective villages thereby putting a big question mark on how the agriculture sector would function once the paddy sowing season commences. The state has had a bumper wheat harvest season but what is likely to happen next is a subject of immense worry. The core of any valid criticism is that those who make it must possess both the credentials and the stature. The Central government can be cornered on many vital lapses, and its handling of the current pandemic has left much to be desired. However, the Congress must first raise its own level of performance in order to take on the Centre if it wishes to be taken seriously. Otherwise, it shall turn to be a case of a kettle calling the pot black. This would certainly not augur well for a party that has ruled the country for most part of its independence existence.