Tuesday, October 22, 2019
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A churning in the Congress

K.N. Pandita

Rahul Gandhi’s resignation issue in the aftermath of Congress’ second consecutive defeat in the parliamentary election was dramatized for several weeks, albeit unnecessarily. People in the country and especially several rungs of the Congress hierarchy knew he had no option but to be out. Rahul tried to win as much sympathy as he could from the younger generation in his organization which was evident when he mentioned that some senior Congress leaders were pushing their wards, obviously against his wishes because he did not like the path blocked for the younger Congressmen.

The resignation dramatics and the grand finale made it clear that there is deep dissension within the party rank and file, and the elders are loath to slacken off the grip. The revolt within has been brewing for quite some time and when the debacle happened, everybody wanted to pass the buck to the more vulnerable.

The crushing defeat suffered by Congress should have taught its leaders to make some introspection and an unemotional analysis of its weak points. Essentially, the long inning for so many decades had created an impression with Congressmen that an alternative to Congress was unimaginable with the Indian voter. They became over-confident and also haughty and in many cases arrogant as well.

Congress has done a good service to the nation during the heyday of its power. The economic progress that we see today in our country is the cumulative result of Congress’ contribution and service. The Congress in power might have made some mistakes also that caused harm to the interests of the nation but after all nobody can claim to be infallible. What pushed Congress out of public favour is widespread corruption eating into its vitals. The malaise became uncontrollable because the Congress leadership itself was not without blemish. Secondly, a clique in the Congress High Command ruled the roost. Intoxicated with political and money power, it failed to realize that its main opponent, BJP, was out to play the Hindu Sanskriti card on a massive scale something that had been unwisely dishonored and put under the carpet by Congress stalwarts beginning with Nehru. The labeling of Hindu Sanskriti with “Hindu terror as greater threat” was suicidal to cost Congress not only the election but also its prestige. Of course, what India is going through since 2014 is Hindu sanskritic revivalism but not in negative terms to be equated with global jihadist movement. Congress should have done some schooling to understand the roots of Hindu civilization before distorting and disfiguring it only to serve its narrow political objectives. Has Rahul thought over the long range consequences of fighting election from Wayward constituency with maximum Muslim vote? He may have won the election there but he has lost the trust of 80 per cent Hindus majority of India. Does he understand what ignominy he has brought to his political career by opting to communalize his election campaign?

The opposition cannot be blamed for exploiting the willing or unwilling ignorance of Congress ideologues on this subject. In politics, care has to be taken against the adversary turning the other end of the stick towards you.

Congress has lost the lofty ideals of nation-building, the deft handling of delicate values of a secular democratic dispensation and the astute fairness in disallowing bureaucracy tampering with democratic institutions. Worst, the Congress in the days of its sunset, tried to manipulate the judiciary and even the Supreme Court of India, the custodian of the law and righteousness of the world’s largest democracy.

By raising a clique around the Congress High Command, which ironically is nowhere near to what is understood by “high command” in a political party, Congress degenerated into a laconically stretched-out dynastic personalized establishment with no qualms of conscience in putting a seal to the theft and loot of the national exchequer by those who were enjoying the spoils of power. Congress undermined crucial democratic institutions in the country. The scurvy treatment which Congress “High Command” meted out to great nationalists like Narasimha Rao, APJ Kalam, Sitaram Kesri and others was tantamount at cutting the very roots of democracy. Installation of a rubber-stamp Prime Minister for 12 long years will do down as the most wayward years of the history of Indian democracy. Secularism was trivialized and abused and the civil society was exposed to communal sickness. These unforgiveable aberrations must make many heads in Congress to roll.

Rahul Gandhi should have addressed these deficiencies soon after Congress was miserably ousted in 2014. Its second ouster in 2019 has put a very big question mark on its survival in its traditional form. The first and perhaps the most definite outcome is that after seventy long years, the dynastic rule in independent India has come to an ignominious end and its founder’s statesmanship stands exposed to doubt and distrust.

Gravely inexperienced in statecraft and recklessly ill-advised by his cronies, Rahul conducted his election campaign during 2019 in an incredibly unrefined manner not behoving the President of the historical grand old party called Indian National Congress. Not even an uncouth school boy would stoop low to call the Prime Minister of India “chor”, “chowkidar”, “chai wala” etc. And while Rahul went on making his self the laughing stock by chanting this mantra before the masses, he did not even have the slightest inkling that all this was boomeranging on him.

A very decisive argument which BJP marshaled most effectively was to profile Congress as the party of the elite but adversarial to the poor, the Dalit and the backward masses of India. By stigmatizing Modi as “chaewala” he did the greatest harm to his party and to his person. This reflects the haughtiness of Congress and its adversaries made enormous gain by recounting to their audience the words of Nehru that “ I am the last British ruler of India.” It was Rahul who gave ammunition to his enemies and they used it befittingly.

Congress is going through a great churning never experienced in the past. It is breaking up, each day each hour. A party that could have performed a historic role while sitting in opposition and immensely strengthened Indian democracy is down and flat owing to its own intransigence. Indian voters did not forget or forgive Congress for disrupting, nay paralyzing previous Parliament’s business for several years by misusing its majority in the Rajya Sabha. People of India did not forget that the mahagathbandan was nothing but a vendetta springing from loss of political power. Against who was the grand alliance foprmed? It was against the government and the Prime Minister who had come to power through a majority vote. People of India were convinced that the Grand Alliance was against their wishes and against the democratic dispensation. They decided to uphold democracy against these divisive and disruptive powers.

The chances of revival of Congress are bleak if drastic and unprecedented changes leading to grand purge are not taken. Rahul has quit but he must also quit the hegemonic mentality which he has inherited historically. The so-called High Command has to be liquidated. Old guards must retire and make space for the younger leadership.. They should not pose as the patriarchs without whose guidance the party will commit Himalayan blunders. Above all, the party must change its mindset from considering the opposition as its enemy and Congress desiring to be the sole ruling entity in India. The test of a drastic change will be in identifying those who are patently corrupt in the party and the money they have stolen has to be brought back not through the government instrumentality but by them voluntarily as recompense to their treacherous role in looting the exchequer of the nation. India is a civilizational Leviathan and it has eighty per cent Hindu population. Congress has tasted the result of abusing and humiliating the majority community’s sentiments by last minute visitations to the Hindu temples and posing as Hindu devotees and claiming affiliation to Dattatarya Kaul gotra of Kashmiri Hindus. Please look inside. If threadbare corrective measures are not taken, the words of Modi viz. “Congress mukt Bharat” (India minus Congress), will become the gospel truth.

(The author is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies of Kashmir University, . Feedback- [email protected])

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