Sorry Congress, it’s not working…
Caught up in the vicissitudes of the present, Congress is clearly failing its past. Jawahar Lal Nehru’s 125 anniversary was a great opportunity before India’s GOP to re-invent itself, reclaim the Nehruvian legacy and move forward boldly as a relevant, opposition party.
Instead, what we saw on 13 November, on the anniversary eve, was a display of the old trite, tested and abortive formulas—ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who literally buried the Nehruvian thesis with his own hands—and speech—in 1991—sitting on the stage smugly and smilingly without a clue, as always, as to why and for what he was there; Arvind Singh Lovely, a mere MLA from Delhi, who has organized only a few processions and agitations, occupying a seat besides Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, lowering their stature; Sheila Dixit, the queen of scams, at least in perception, playing the role of a rabble-rousing ring-master; all genuine Congress workers and supporters must be squirming either before the stage or the TV sets (if anyone cared to watch); Pandit Nehru must have died a 100 times.
Imagine—in a country like India, you have two Sikhs, with no connection whatsoever to Nehru or Congress’ ideology flanking the Gandhis—for cosmetic value there is Shakeel Ahmad; what kind of a message are you sending? That the GOP has lost touch completely with India—no Brahmin, Dalit, OBC face; no one from Hindi Heartland which decides who becomes India’s PM; no Marathi, Bengali, Assamese; no one from the North-East, Kashmir, South India—come on; there is a limit to sophistry.
Congress leadership has lost it—that is the only conclusion a sane person can draw from the 13 November show. After virtually handing 2014 elections to Modi on a platter by calling him a “Chaiwala” on national television, Mani Shankar Aiyar, whom I have always respected as a Marxist, shows the audacity of writing an edit page article in a leading daily on 13th November morning, advising Rahul Gandhi to read one of the worst books ever written on Nehru—and capping it all by advising the “prince without anointment” about the wrong pages to read, twisting an episode in Nehru’s political career, to draw parallels with Rahul Gandhi’s current isolation!
The example Mani gave—of Nehru campaigning during 1937 elections—despite his opposition to contesting under a colonial regime—for the Congress—lonely, esoteric but deeply connective with the masses—does not apply to Rahul Gandhi.
In fact, on 13 November, Rahul’s total loss of touch with reality was seen in the way he again parroted the line that misfired completely during the 2014 election campaign—about BJP doing “hate politics”; while Congress is involved in “spreading love” — are you serious Rahul? Are you that glib? You think people of India are glib? They will not see through the charade of you knowing zilch about Nehru?
Even Gandhi, the apostle of peace and non-violence, never talked about “spreading love” through politics. He spoke about compassion, humanism and universality of moral values, but Gandhi never said that his politics is about “spreading love”.
Gandhi’s politics was about basic issues of India’s starving millions—freedom from oppressive, exploitative British rule, self-governance, swadeshi, police brutality, control of Indian resources in Indian hands. Gandhi’s political methodology and tactics was non-violence—and there is a huge difference between non-violence and making “spreading love” your politics…
History will not be kind to these omissions—of Nehru’s own family making a mockery of the globally recognized, visionary Indian leader who drew millions out of poverty and laid a solid basis for Indian industry, manufacture and nation; who made sure not only that food-grain production went up, but also that the net availability of food grains per person also registered a dramatic rise.
Nehru pulled India out of the colonial mess of negative growth. “Neo-liberal” Gandhis do not have the courage to say even this much—what with the World Bank agent Manmohan Singh sitting on their head?
You can’t make an omelette without breaking the egg; and you can’t wake Congress up without shaking the party up. Rahul and Sonia Gandhi should have been talking, not on how attempts to wipe out Nehru’s legacy are being made after Modi came to power; but how the Congress of Narsimha Rao and Manmohan Singh began the process of the decline of Nehruvian thesis by privatizing public sector companies, allowing monopolies to flourish and encouraging an export-based economy, in which net food grain availability would eventually come down!
Narendra Modi is the natural culmination of what Manmohan Singh set in motion in 1991—this is how the ruthless dialectics of history works—a right wing economy will ultimately generate a right wing shift in all spheres of life and a right throw up a right wing shift in politics—Marxist Mani knows this; but will never tell Rahul.
The Rao-Singh line also oversaw the destruction of Babari Masjid—an event that drove the first lethal nail in Nehru’s idea of a secular idea. How can Sonia Gandhi eschew wisdom and tolerate a man partly responsible for all this on the stage in a function about Nehruvian legacy?
Today, the values of Indian freedom movement are in crisis; FDI is no substitute for internal reform and indigenous capital generation; land reforms and taking farming the co-operative way is the only viable method to revive agricultural production; and establishing industry is the only path to employment.
This was a historic moment before Congress to play the zero-sum game, critique its own past of 25, especially the last 10 years, say how crony capitalism had eaten away the vitals of Indian system built by leaders like Nehru and their political successors, how scams, corruption, mafiadom became a norm in India’s socio-political life; how people are genuinely concerned about issues like black money.
This was a time for the Gandhis to tell India about how Nehru fought communalism—stick in hand, chasing away rioters near Delhi’s Odeon cinema; plunging into the crowd, catching communal elements abusing Gandhi at the height of partition riots by the scruff of their neck; speaking and speaking and speaking, till he fell exhausted, about India’s composite culture and Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb.
This was a time when Rahul Gandhi should have gone to Allahabad, mingled with the crowds and celebrated Nehru’s 125 anniversary with the common man/woman on the dirty, grimy—but gritty—streets of India.
Hearing Rahul Gandhi talk not about basic issues but “spreading love”, Nehru would have caught him by the ear and trained him to become a man…
High time someone did that…Actually…
Amaresh Misra is the editor-in-chief of Medhaj News