The congress will cease to be popular if it cannot deserve popularity in times of stress. If it cannot provide work for the workless and hungry, if it cannot protect the people from depredations or teach them how to face them, if it cannot help them in the face of danger, it will lose its prestige and popularity”. – Mahatma Gandhi, Harijan, January 18, 1942, p. 4
At one point in time, the polity of Bharat was itself defined as the Congress System. From that position of pre-eminence, Congress is relegated to the distant number two position at the national level and getting wiped out from many parts of Bharat. Indeed, Congress is not facing decline for the first time, but the current crisis for the party is more fundamental and worrying.
In Tamil Nadu, the dominant ally of Congress, DMK, has shown Congress its place by mentioning its dwindling vote-share. ‘Secularism preaching’ Muslim League is bargaining hard to get a better share in the Congress-led United Democratic Front of Kerala. In Assam, Congress has found in AIUDF led by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal— a notorious Islamist with alleged Turkish links — an ally. While fighting against the Communists in Kerala, Congress has finalised the pact with them in West Bengal. If this was not sufficient, Abbas Siddiqui – the Pirzada of Furfura Sharif, is the Congress’s new partner. Abbas is known for his inflammatory speeches, and his Indian Secular Front’s workers are facing allegations of running bomb-making factories.
When senior party leaders like Anand Sharma questioned the decision on the ground of being selective about the party’s fight against ‘communalism’, the response to him was derogatory and insulting with the logic of fighting on the ‘Secularism’ plank. The ideological confusion is clear and obvious. Leadership is part-time and disconnected from their organisation. The same Congress, which had given a respectable fight to the incumbent BJP in Gujarat during the Assembly Elections, is wiped out in all levels of local body polls. Thus, the character of crisis for Congress is ideological, organisation and leadership levels.
Instead of introspecting over this crisis on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s advice, Rahul Gandhi chose to assassinate Gandhi’s principle of Satya (Truth) yet again by spreading lies. On a foreign University platform, he not just insulted the democracy of Bharat but certified that the real Emergency imposed by Congress in 1975 was better than the present situation. The real Emergency is considered the blackest chapter of the post-Independence period. The entire Opposition was in jail, inhuman atrocities were carried out against dissenting voices, the Constitution was subverted, and all institutions’ were politicised. When the Opposition parties and propped up protesters are abusing the ruling party and leadership day in and day out, it cannot be considered the absence of fundamental civil rights.
Spreading another lie, the condused leader made a defamatory comment against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) inspired Vidya Bharati schools by equating them with the terrorist producing Madrassa schools of Pakistan. These schools with impeccable centres of character building are known for their selfless, patriotic education system based on Bharatiya ethos. How can one expect a political party to regain the people’s confidence with such non-credible and irresponsible leadership?
All whimsical acts and blatant lies of the Gandhi scion are cheered by some sycophants and media houses. Privately, all real Congressmen accept that the Nehru-Gandhi family has become a liability for the party. What they are not realising is, their failure to go beyond the dynasty is creating danger for the democratic set up. A credible and emphatic opposition is the requirement of any democracy, and that position cannot be built with a bundle of lies. If Rahul Gandhi wants to fulfil the last wish of the real Gandhiji – to dissolve Congress as the purpose of Independence is served – it is up to him. He should not defame Bharat and avoid making RSS a favourite punching bag to cover up his incompetence to contest and win the confidence of people through a democratic process.