Sunday, January 25, 2009

Open letter to Congress Leadership

Dear Mrs Gandhi,

Sub: State of affairs in Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee

I take this opportunity to introduce myself as Ashwin Kumaraswamy - citzen of India, currently living and working in UK as an Investment Manager.

Knowing very well and fully aware, that my emails might not reach you in person for various reasons, the eternal optimist in me has prompted to write this email to you to discuss few political and developmental issues.

I need not go overboard in trying to prove my loyalty to the party or Nehru- Gandhi family - the very reason i am writing this email and have written letters on various ocassions to Madam Gandhi from 2002 is an indication that i have the best interests of India and Congress party.My hope that this would reach you is based on an acknowledgement i receieved from your office that it would bring this email to your notice. But I still hope this email would reach you in person.

Let me now get to the issue which i want to raise and i am very concerned abaout.
Comming straight to the issue that has concerned me and that which can be averted to save Congress party in Karnataka.
1. RV Deshpande and DK Shivakumar have been made incharge of the congress party in Karnataka state - a decision which could potentially boomerang unless havaing proper checks and balances - this is not a mere statement. This comes from my experience of travelling across karnataka (urban and rural to understand the people and their issues).
2. Though the party has leaders like Kharge, Siddramaiah, Krishna, Moily, Oscar Fernandes and others - but apart from Siddaramiah and to an extent Krishna the others have absolutelu no acceptance across Karnataka (DK Shivakaumar is an exception, but i would put him togther with Krishna).
3. Party needs a image make over if it has to do well in the coming Loksaba elections, given the money power used by BJP along with the caste card played by Yeddyurappa - Congress party needs to rediscover itself.

It would be foolishness to think caste does not play a role in politics and so is money, but this can be countered by having leaders who can cut across caste lines and also who can speak to people in their own different ways by capturing their imagination.For this to happen the party needs to identify core group of people who can take that responsibility (this does involve managing expectations, but that needs to be done). As of today, i dont see any leader barring Siddaramiah (egostic and would hold the party to ransosm like he did in the recently concluded by elections), Krishna/DK Shivakumar (DK needs to have a image makeover in terms of management style as he is perceived to be very rough and people would immediately associate him to be leader of a local rough men), who could help the party. But this leaves the regions of Shimoga, Mangalore, Karwar (we have now sidelined Ms.Alva for airing what is the fact that Congress leaders do seel tickets, not that she held sway over the region. Also i am sorry to say the issue she raised has lots of merit atleast Karnataka is concerned - l dont want to take names and neither do i have the proof to back my claims, but does one need a proof to prove glaring fact? There are a lot of power brokers without genuine mass base in the party who command far more respect from the party leadership thana they deserve, to add to this neither are they real mass leaders) and North Karnataka. Looking at the caste combination here and crowd pulling capabilities there is no one in Congress who could do this work - hence the reason Congress lost the assembly elections and will be the reason for Congress to do badly in the upcomming loksabha election if not rectified.

I am sure this is very well known to you - given the situation, my suggestion is get back some of the leaders to Congress fold and give prominence to some party faithfuls. One such person is Bangarappa (each time he has left congress, he has damaged it in karnataka, he might not have done good to himself, but he has damaged party prospects) - he could cover the regions of Mangalore, Karwar, Udupi, Davengere. But the North Karnataka region where lingayats dominate and muslims have a sizeable population there is no leader. Hence here we should project a new face in the party or get some new face to help build the bridge. Self styled and leaders whom you have given prominence like Kharge, Dharm Singh - have literally no mass appeal and also across Karnataka people dont accept these two leaders for various reasons (i can give many a reasons - but let us assume they dont have the acceptance, else they would have helped congress come to power in that region).

My suggestions and thoughts on leaders Congress should get into its fold to have even a remotely descent showing in the upcomming loksabha elections would be:

1. S Bangarappa - may have lost the recent assembly elections in Karnataka, but the man is a maverick, he has the audacity to tell the people that they were wrong in electing or not electing him. Also he has a band of dedicated followers who will work with him, cutting across party lines. He can rejuvnate the party in the Karwar, Shimoga, Mangalore, Udupi, Davengere and Koppal belt. He does not have any expectations now, he understands he is on the last leg of his political career, he just wants to cap it off with a high by defeating BJP and taking a sweet revenge on Yeddyurappa and his former proteges.
2. Party needs a Muslim leader of significance - the only one i see with any stature is Jaffer Sherrif, but i guess he is a sort of spent force in the state. But this can be revived by giving him some responsibility.
3. As for the lingayat community - there is no leader in the party to command the respect the same way Yeddyurappa, hence we need to break this down into a group of people who the responsibility can be entrusted for every district. Likes of H K Patil, M P Prakash would work provided they are given due importance in decision making. Along with HK Patil, MP Prakash - Kharge and Dharm Singh could serve the party in their pocket boroughs of Gulbarga. This still leaves Bijapur, Bagalkot, Belgaum still up for grabs so is Hubli.
4. A T Ramaswamy - he could help the party in the urban areas, as during the JDS-BJP tenure, he did a wonderful job in unearthing the land mafia in bangalore - an ex-congress man was pushed to join JDS when he was not given ticket to contest 2004 elections. Probabaly the only honest politician in karnataka in letter and spirits. Who could do wonders in Hassan Dist and urban areas. He has never been behind any posts nor is he power hungry, he would work for Congress in terms of fresh face as well as one the people can connect to because of his simplicity. He is not corrupt and would not let corrupt practices go un-checked. There is a healthy competition to get him on board by BJP and JDS is trying hard to retain him. He is the only person who can give back to Gowda and yet get patted by him for being upfront and correct in his judgement, a very rare breed of politician.
5. Bring new and fresh faces, who are articulate, and yet connect to the people and give them tickets to contest.
Thus congress can slavage to a descent prospect in the coming Loksabha elections.

Else Congress would find it very difficult to win in Bangalore South, Bangalore North, Bellary, Davengere, Shimoga, Udupi-Chikamangalur, Mangalore, Hubli, Belgaum, Bagalkot, Bijapur, Hassan, Raichur, Koppal, Mysore, Mangalore, Tumkur, Chitradurga, for sure and the rest is up for grabs with good competition.
Today there are no seats in Karnataka, where one can say it is a safe Congress seat. Bellary was squandered to BJP by the corrupt congress politicians.

Please consider my genuine and humble suggestion and have a look at the KPCC and make the necessary changes that would help the party.

I would not expect anything from writing this post, but again the optimisim in me, has made me do this, not expecting any results as Lord Krishna say "Do your duties and leave the fruits of the hardwork to the almighty god". I have made an effort to bring my concerns to the notice of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Ahmed Patel and Sachin Pilot - but you all know how things work in India, there is handly any accountability even on receiving my emails, and faxes.

I sometimes wonder, if i am stupid in writing this post knowing very well it does not and will not serve any purpose, but the satisifaction in me that i did my best will keep my spirits up and hopefully it would lead me to join Indian polity sooner than later. Afterall failures is the stepping stone for success.

Thanks & Kind Regards

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