“Last year, when I came to Saurashtra, I went to Somnath. I was then accompanied by the Jam Saheb and Shri Gadgil. When we saw the ruined temple of Somnath and walked on those sacred precincts and surveyed that historic and religious place, the vision of the past spread itself before us. We then resolved to renovate its ancient glory.”
– Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in his address at Jamnagar on
January 22, 1949(This was Sardar The Commemorative Volume 3 )
One thing that Gujarat election campaign has ensured irrespective of the results is the establishment of Rahul Gandhi as a leader within the Congress Party. The predetermined coronation of Rahul Gandhi as the President of the Indian National Congress has finally taken place. This all has happened amidst his temple trotting and an attempt to reincarnate himself as a ‘soft Hindutva’ icon. About the method adopted for this selection cum election is an internal matter of the Congress Party and whether to continue with the dynastic leadership is finally for the rank and file of the organisation to decide. What will be the character of Rahul led Congress is the real question that needs to be pondered over from the national point of view.
In the name ‘Indian National Congress’, the word ‘Indian’ stands for its organisational spread and strength and ‘national’ stands for its approach towards issues. Unfortunately, the Congress after Independence under the leadership of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty digressed from the ‘national’ values enshrined in this ancient civilisation and remained Indian only in terms of nationwide presence. During Nehru’s time itself whoever believed in the true ‘national’ ethos was thrown out of the Party for the sake of ‘Socialism’ and ‘Secularism’.
The scenario became more glaring during the Indira and Rajiv Gandhi regime when they tried to balance things just for vote-bank politics. The Shah Bano verdict of the Supreme Court was reversed overnight and to balance the act, Shilanyas was planned at Ayodhya. The Sonia-Congress was even worse. As rightly pointed out by the Antony Committee Report the ‘anti-Hinduism’ in the name of ‘Secularism’ was the single biggest reason for the Congress debacle in 2014 besides dynasty and corruption. The denial of existence of Ram in the Ram Setu case or coining the term ‘Saffron-terror’ as a more dangerous threat than Naxalism or even going to the extent of saying that ‘minorities have more rights on the resources of this nation’ by the Prime Minister himself are just some of the examples. The way Congress-led UPA has ruined the indigenous and national educational institutions by inserting a clause in Right to Education Act of exempting the minority institutions from the key provisions is unpardonable.
The recent findings on Ram Setu and possibility of expediting the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi case in the apex court has provided a unique opportunity for Rahul Gandhi to correct the historical follies of the Congress and again adopt the Patel-Gandhi path rather than the Nehru-Gandhi dynastic path. On the issue of dynasty he would obviously not take any concrete stand of which he himself is a product but on the issues of corruption and national identity he would have to take stand as a leader of the main Opposition Party.
Whether Rahul led Congress is in a position to do that is a critical question and the answer lies in will the grand old party regain a ‘national’ character it had once stood for. Mere visiting Somnath Temple would not make the Rahul Congress national but to connect with the larger masses of this nation
showing some penance for the mistakes made by the forefathers and doing some course-corrections in the policies of the Party he is expected to lead in the Opposition is the only option. The issues of Sri Ram Temple and Ram Setu have given him the golden opportunity to bridge the gap between Hindu ethos and the Congress Party that had got carried away by the Communists. If Rahul Gandhi has the moral courage and conviction to make this course correction, then there is a possibility of consolidating the Opposition that everyone is hoping for. Otherwise, fragmented regionalism, again created by the Congress, will remain a harsh reality in the Opposition.