New Delhi: The Bihar experiment and Congress' impressive showing should lead to possibilities in states where elections are due, feels senior party leader Salman Khurshid.
According to the former external affairs minister, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, where elections are due, are both very challenging propositions.
"Bihar was in many ways the happening of the impossible. The Congress might have been a relatively smaller partner but it made the difference in providing the emotional glue to the alliance," he says.
"In addition, it gives us an opportunity to rearrange its thoughts and plans for the future. The Shimla spirit gave us the impetus for the UPA and similarly the Bihar experiment should lead to possibilities in the states where elections are due," Khurshid said.
"Our leadership will look at each combination carefully before giving us the signal," he adds.
Khurshid says both West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, bound for Assembly polls in 2016 and 2017 respectively, offer opportunities and challenges.
"We need to look at the near picture as indeed the further one. Some fundamentals of our future politics depend on these two states so we have to tread carefully.
Of course it takes two to tango; our potential allies and partners need to take clear positions as well."
Khurshid has recently come out with a book The Other Side of the Mountain in which he aims to "tell the story that remained untold and persuade the people that there is a vast unfinished task to be completed by the Congress one day". He says he was "really shattered when some newspapers carried stories (of his book) that suggested some people felt we lost elections because of (then Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh. It would be more sense to say we lost despite him". Singh, he says, will certainly be reassessed by history.
"He (Singh) was the closest that we have come to the idea of a philosopher-king. Modern politics and its rough riding leaves very little space of a reflective, benign leader in our times but the nation will get tired of loud confrontations and look for mature words of wisdom.
"Manmohan Singh will fill that crucial need and imperative of sober and constructive politics. We are indeed lucky to have worked with such a fine and distinguished leader whose calibre was applauded by the whole world," he says.
He considers Singh as a great mentor, friend, philosopher and guide.
"His gentleness did not mean he could not be firm when it was necessary. A boss who can make you feel comfortable despite his erudition and stature is a great blessing. Sometimes I wonder why we failed him. He was indeed our great chance to create a place in history," he says.
Khurshid says he thought of writing the book because "our tenure left a lot unsaid due to the noise made by the Opposition which they must indeed be regretting now."
"The words that were spoken to undermine us will haunt the government every time they attempt something serious," he says.
The book, published by Hay House, took Khurshid about one year to write."Most thoughts were still fresh in the mind so I did not feel the absence of notes."
He rues that social harmony is under stress and institutional integrity under question since the NDA came to power.
"These are worrying signs. The government seems to be shying off stating its clear philosophical positions even as it pretends that it has a mandate for fundamental changes in society. But Delhi and Bihar have shown how wrong they are," he says.
According to him, the NDA came to power "without real substance to offer and that is how they are continuing as well. Many projects of our time are being show cased as achievements of the NDA without a mention of our government.
The government is obviously quite unclear of how to deal with its tall promises". He says "parochialism and internationalism can hardly exist together although the prime minister is trying hard".
"Liberalism is taking a knock in our society and real test will come in the months ahead. The Idea of India was not an artificial construct of the Nehruvian era will be put to test and in the response of the people will be the future of our society as we have known and cherished it.
"The strategic choice that has to be made by the opponents of majoritarianism will be between uncompromising principles and tolerable accommodation," he says.