Congress repeats history now as farce
IT'S very unusual for a political party to organise a national level rally to support and welcome transnational retail conglomerates. But Congress has done it. Is it an admission of its political bankruptcy, or an announcement of its fast changing profile?
Is it political irony or wilful disdain of the Congress party that it held a rally to drum up support for Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco from the very spot from where Gandhiji had given several calls to oust the foreigners. Ramlila Maidan in Delhi has a benign political history. Ever since the spot, previously a pond, was converted into a ground in the 1930s, it has been used for political meetings by freedom fighters. Gandhi, Nehru and Sardar Patel have held several meetings there. In independent India’s history, it is from here that Jayaprakash Narayan blew the bugle against Emergency.
From such a podium the Congress party, led by the mother-son duo launched its dry-run for the 2014 elections, by expressing unreserved support for the entry of foreign retail businesses into India. If one heard the speeches of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh it would appear as though FDI in retail is the single panacea for all the economic ills of the country. So carried away was Rahul that he assumed the “we” and “you” tone. “We” gave you RTI, “We” gave you NREGA, “we” changed Delhi, he went on. The opposition, on the other hand is not letting “us” work, he and his mother said.
When Rajiv Gandhi two decades ago spoke about pilferation of money spent by the government on public welfare programmes, there was a ring of sincerity, albeit later belied by him. But when Rahul Gandhi waxed eloquent from Ramlila Maidan on the plight of the mango people, it only evoked derision. He said that the doors of the government are closed to the public, that the common man is denied entry into political parties. He blamed the political system for the plight of the Indians. And he spoke about all these as if somebody else is responsible for it. Congress party has been ruling the country for five out of the six decades India has been independent. It is a dynastic party, with power flowing from his great-grandfather to his grandmother, to his father, to his mother and now he is waiting, rather his party is waiting for him to take the throne. In short, he denounced his party, his party’s successive governments and his mother’s and his forefathers’ legacy.
Rahul Gandhi spoke with a dynastic proprietorial slant in his voice, patting senior party leaders. For instance his commending the work of Sheila Dikshit was condescending. He berated the opposition BJP for not supporting the Congress on FDI. And this he was demanding in exchange for the ‘support’ Congress extended to the BJP during the Kargil war. Where is the comparison? Kargil was an aggression launched by Pakistan against India. There was no party politics or ideological differences. India stood as one man. Even Communists who had taken a partisan stand during the Chinese aggression in 1962 stood by the government. To take credit for this and in lieu ask for support on FDI was churlish and immature.
He and his mother had nothing to say about the serial corruption expose being played out in the media on a daily basis. One did not expect anything from Manmohan Singh who values his silence over his words, especially when it comes to accountability to the nation.
An editorial on Rahul Gandhi’s speech is necessitated by the fact that he is being viewed by the Congress party as the next prime ministerial candidate. We should know the man and what better way to learn than by his own words. The Prime Minister has any number of times said that the minute Rahul Gandhi wants it, he will vacate the seat. This is echoed by the slavish Congressmen. Hence, Rahul Gandhi has got it into his head that the top post of the nation is his for the asking. With his mother playing the king-maker he can nurture that dream.
The tragedy however is the fall of the Congress party which once heralded the Swadeshi movement in the country with Gandhiji’s non-cooperation movement and boycott of foreign goods electrified the struggle for independence. The same Congress today has become the lone and forceful votary of foreign retail brands and its leadership has slipped into foreign hands.