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Indian National Congress then and now: The dominance of foreign masters

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By Rukma Singh

The birth of the Congress party in 1885 has been one of the most momentous events in the political history of India. It played a massive role in Indian independence by being the first embodiment of nationalism at an all-India level. As such, the Indian National Congress became synonymous to the nationalist processes in India. Indian historian Bipin Chandra rightly argues that the foundation of the Congress was the natural outcome of the political awareness and work done by various bodies in the years between 1850 and 1885.

The myth

A long-lasting myth surrounding the Indian National Congress is the myth of the “safety valve”. A.O. Hume and other Britishers believed that the educated Indians may become leaders of the Indian public and organize a rebellion against the government. To handle this, the British Government itself decided to provide a platform to people to channel their opposition. The myth, however, was later busted by researchers. It is important to note that even though the safety valve theory isn’t entirely correct, Gokhale recognized and accepted the contribution of British. “No Indian could have started the Indian National Congress…if an Indian had come forward to start such a movement embracing all Indians, the officials in India would not have allowed the movement to come into existence,” argued Gokhale.

Earliest nation­alists cooperated with Hume because they did not want to encourage official hostility at the onset itself.

The Post-Independence Congress

From 1951 until his death in 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru, the paramount leader of the Indian independence movement under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi dominated the Congress Party, which won overwhelming victories in the elections of 1951–52, 1957, and 1962. It was only in 1964 that the future of Congress came into question following the death of Nehru. Kamaraj, the President of the All India Congress Committee, brought Lal Bahadur Shastri to power, who eventually died under mysterious circumstances in 1966. The next Prime Minister was Indira Gandhi, appointed by the Syndicate (group of senior Congress partymembers) so that they could have an upper edge in the party by directing the young prime minister. However, that plan failed and Indira Gandhi’s lack of dependence on the Syndicate led to her expulsion from the party. Undeterred, she went ahead and created another party which won with a massive majority in 1971, due to the significant support from the lower strata of the society, behind the garb of progressive socialism.

Downfall

One of the first instances of the downfall of the Congress party came about in 1975, with complaints about increasing authoritarianism gaining impetus. What followed was the declaration of emergency, resulting in the party’s complete loss of support. The 19 months of emergency saw widespread oppression and abuse of power by Gandhi’s unelected younger son, Sanjay Gandhi and his close associates. This period of oppression ended when on 23 January 1977, Indira Gandhi called for fresh elections to the Lok Sabha and released all political prisoners. Not surprisingly, the new Congress with 153 seats lost to the Janata party that had a landslide victory with 295 seats. But Indira Gandhi continued the fight by forming a new faction called Congress I (Indira) to signify the independence of the party. Over the next year, her party attracted enough members to become a significant opposition party. In 1980, Congress (I) won with a massive majority and was declared as the real Indian National Congress by the National Election Commission.

In 1984,the whole country was in a state of shock when Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards, expressing their anger over her decision to allow the Indian Army to establish control over the Golden Temple. The 1984 anti Sikh riots occurred after her death, marking the loss of over 30,000 lives.

The Rajiv Gandhi period

Following  the assassination, Rajiv Gandhi, upon being made the Prime Minister, led the party to a massive victory with 401 seats. Gandhi was regarded as a nonabrasive person who consulted other party members and refrained from hasty decisions.The Bofors Scam shattered his image as an honest politician; however he was posthumously cleared over this allegation in 2004. On 21 May 1991, Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber associated with the Tamil Tigers.

The entry of Sonia Gandhi

Following the lowest ever seat tally of Congress in 1998, party members requested Sonia Gandhi-widow of Rajiv Gandhi, who had earlier refrained from participating in politics, to enter the party. Angered by the inclusion of a Non-Indian member, a group of members, led by Sharad Pawar went ahead and formed the National Congress Party (NCP). Sonia Gandhi’s leadership failed to have an impact initially. However, as time passed, the wise campaigning targeting social inclusion and common man’s benefit coupled with the formation of coalition government (forming the United Progressive Alliance), resulted in the massive victory of UPA government.

By the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, however, the party had lost much of its popular support, majorly because of several years of poor economic conditions in the country and growing concerns over a series of corruption scandals including 2G Spectrum Scam and Coal Scam.

The present

The Indian National Congress saw a massive defeat in the 2014 parliamentary election. For more than three-quarters of a century, it dominated the landscape of Indian politics. But this changed significantly after Congress managed to win just 44 of 543 Lok Sabha seats, accompanied by a lack of strong base in any part of the country. Political Scientist, Zoya Hassan analyzes the reasons behind the momentous downfall, and what comes across as the main influencing factor is the dominating organizational weaknesses. Under Indira Gandhi, Congress moved on from being a dominant democratic party with a formidable organization, distributing patronage in exchange of electoral support, to a family centred political organization. Another basic problem emerges from the lack of new, able and popular leaders. The huge dependence and trust put in the Gandhis might not necessarily work for the betterment of the party, till the time new voices aren’t given space.  An evidence has been given by Sanjay Baru in his book ‘The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh’, where points out that the Prime Minister let Rahul Gandhi take credit for NREGA and UPA winning a second term. When the idea of rural employment guarantee scheme was floated, it was Manmohan Singh who was in favour in implementing this programme at the national level but when the program started, there was a Gandhi family stooge who came up to Baru with a request to release a statement that said that it was Rahul Gandhi who urged Manmohan Singh to extend the scope of NREGA to all the 500-odd rural districts in the country.

For Congress to regain its credibility, the need of the hour is the re-structuring of social democratic values of welfare and pluralism. What is essential is to work on the adoption of a suitable platform of revival, one which does not depend only and entirely on the Gandhi family.

 

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Absurd Theatrics of Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat Assembly elections campaign

Why Rahul Gandhi should do himself and the nation a favor by retiring from politics

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Rahul Gandhi Gujarat elections
Rahul Gandhi (Wikimedia Commons)

–  Gaurav Tyagi

Campaigning for Gujarat Assembly elections to be held in two phases on 9th (phase 1 voting day has passed)  and 14 th December is in full swing. The scion of the Nehru dynasty is trying all stunts to win Gujarat for his Congress Party.

He is making rounds of numerous temples in Gujarat proclaiming himself as a
‘Shiv Bhakt Hindu’. Indira married a Muslim man Feroze Khan in a London
Mosque. Many people in India are still ignorant about this fact and consider
Feroze a Parsi.

Feroze’s mother was a Parsi before marriage to Feroze’s Muslim father but since,
she converted to Islam, their son Feroze Khan was a Muslim.

Indira also embraced Muslim religion for marrying Feroze Khan. Her Muslim name
was Maimuna Begum but she kept this fact well hidden so, as not to harm her
political career.

Rajeev married Sonia Maino, a Catholic Christian. The real names of their children
are Raul and Bianca Maino. They both hold Italian Passports as well but in order
to fool Indians they have adopted the names of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi.

It is incomprehensible that the aforesaid Raul Maino is claiming himself to be a
Hindu now, just to garner votes for Congress in Gujarat in the name of Hindutva.

Raul while addressing an election meeting in Porbandar on 24 th November said
that Prime Minister Modi gave Rs. 33,000 Crores to Tata Company for
manufacturing Nano model of automobiles. He went on to say that no Tata Nano
is visible on the roads of Gujarat.

When Tata Motors’ Nano manufacturing plant at Singur in West Bengal faced
protests in 2008; Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat invited the auto-maker
to Gujarat and extended benefits like allotting land at concessional rates and tax
exemptions for setting up the plant at Sanand near Ahmedabad.

A manufacturing plant of a big company like Tata assures employment
opportunities for the locals besides making the state a more attractive investment
destination for both domestic as well as foreign companies. Every Chief Minister
in India would have done what Modi did at that time.

Modi didn’t do anything wrong by providing a few concessions to Tata. Nowhere,
did he provide Rs. 33,000 Crores to Tata furthermore, Raul’s statement at the
rally while addressing Gujarati locals; “You lost land, electricity, water to Tata
Nano. And if you are not seeing any Tata Nano here, then, what type of magic is
this” is completely absurd.

Immediately after the signing of the Nano deal, Gujarat Industrial Development
Corporation took six villages under acquisition in Sanand. The government of
Gujarat at that time paid the price of land at Rs. 1200 per square meter.

It was four times higher than the market rate prevailing at that time, resulting in
the farmers of this region buying Audis and BMWs.

If the Nano model didn’t turn out to be a commercial success, what has Modi got
to do with it? Every big business house knows that not all of their products would
turn out to be profitable.

Mr. Maino also said that the amount of money Narendra Modi gave for
manufacturing Nano Cars was equal to the UPA government’s allocation for
funding MNREGA since Raul frequently likes to harp about the success of
MNREGA. Here are the facts;

This scheme only guarantees jobs for 100 days a year. A year has 365 days. What
about the rest of the 265 days? The jobs in MNREGA involve completely useless
and unproductive tasks like digging ditches and then filling them back with sand.
This MNREGA scheme is a total failure and waste of government funds.

MNREGA has turned majority of its recipients into lazy, good-for- nothing,
unemployables. This scheme must be abolished with immediate effect.

Raul tried to woo the fishermen of Gujarat by saying that Congress government
used to provide them with subsidy, which covered 25 percent of fishermen’s
expenses on diesel and petrol.

The question is; where and when would this useless subsidy culture end?

Congress is just playing ‘Poverty Politics’. These doles and freebies make people
indolent and uncompetitive thus preventing the progress of a nation.

Raul wants Indian masses to always stand infront of Congress politicians with
folded hands like the old “Maii Baap” culture pioneered by Nehru and later
followed by Indira and Rajeev.

This pattern continued until the only sensible Congress Prime Minister till now,
P.V. Narsimha Rao liberalized the Indian economy in the early 1990’s.

It’s highly disappointing that inspite of Raul Maino’s, relatively young age and
wide travels, he does not possess any constructive and innovative ideas to make
India a better place.

Raul should do himself and the nation a favor by retiring from politics. He anyway
does not need to work for a living and can enjoy the Billions amassed by his
ancestors through masquerading as fake Gandhis.

– The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China

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Rahul Gandhi Points at PM Modi to Vacate the Seat over Gas price Hike

Rahul Gandhi's twitter attack on PM Modi: Vacant your seat over the gas price hike.

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Rahul Gandhi's verbal attack on PM Modi
Rahul Gandhi's verbal attack on PM Modi wikimedia commons

NEW DELHI: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday attacked the Narendra Modi-led central government after the prices of cooking gas was again hiked, asking him to “vacate the ‘Sinhasan’ (post of the Prime Minister)”.

“Mehangi gas, mehanga rashan. Band karo khokala bhashan. Dam bandho kam do. Warna khali karo sinhasan (Expensive gas, expensive ration. Stop making hollow promises. Fix the rates and give employment or else vacate the post),” Rahul Gandhi tweeted attaching a news report of the hike.

Gandhi was referring to the price hike announced by the state-run oil firms on Wednesday.

The prices of the LPG cylinder’s went up by Rs 4.50, while the non-subsidised rates were hiked by a steeper Rs 93 per cylinder.(IANS)

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Himachal Polls: It will be do-or-die battle equally for Congress and BJP CM faces

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It will be a do-or-die battle equally for Congress and BJP CM faces (Himachal Polls) (Anonymous Poll Photo)

Shimla, Nov 2, 2017, 1:00 IST:  It’s literally a do-or-die battle for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief ministerial faces in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh assembly polls. Both veterans — one in his eighties and the other in his seventies — are struggling for their political survival.

One is veteran Congress leader and incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 83, who is pushing hard to get to the helm for the seventh time. The other is the BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, who is making a strong bid to ensure the party’s victory with a record margin to silence his detractors within the party.

 For almost two decades, both the parties in the state have fought almost every assembly and parliamentary polls under their leadership.

“This time, Virbhadra Singh is fighting on two fronts — one is to establish his son Vikramaditya Singh, who is contesting his maiden assembly election, and the second is to ensure the party’s repeat as he forced the Congress to announce him as the chief ministerial candidate despite all odds,” a political observer told IANS.

For Dhumal, it’s simply the battle for “self-survival” after facing a humiliating defeat in the 2012 assembly polls. Since then, he was almost marginalised by the BJP faction led by Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda.

After thwarting foes within, Virbhadra Singh donned his battle gear much ahead of this arch rival Dhumal, whose name was cleared by the BJP as its chief ministerial candidate just days ahead of the polling for the 68-seat assembly on November 9.

“The announcement of Dhumal as the chief ministerial candidate was part of the BJP’s strategy to boost the morale of the cadres as the party for long was divided in two camps — one led by Dhumal and the other by Nadda,” a senior state BJP leader admitted.

Interestingly, both Virbhadra Singh and Dhumal are seeking re-election from new seats and that is not going to be easy for them.

The Congress leader is in the fray from Arki in Solan district, the BJP’s pocket borough that he chose himself, while Dhumal is contesting from Sujanpur, the seat he was asked to contest from.

The Sujanpur contest seems interesting as the Congress has fielded Rajinder Rana, who knows the Dhumal family well.

Virbhadra Singh knows the assembly poll will be a vote on the performance of his five-year-old government.

“We are seeking votes on the basis of development by our government, especially in the education, health and connectivity sectors,” a confident Virbhadra Singh, who first became the Chief Minister in 1983, told IANS.

The Chief Minister, who has been in active politics for over 50 years, is a regular target of the top BJP leadership, who point to his being out on bail and facing corruption charges in the Delhi High Court during the time he was the Union Steel Minister 2009-11.

But against all odds, he alone tours across the state seeking votes for the Congress. Party leaders said the Chief Minister is single-handedly campaigning and he is conducting 15 to 20 meetings in two to three constituencies every day.

He starts his campaign at 9 a.m. and continues till late into the night. He holds closed-door meetings with party workers in the evening for their feedback.

The only saving grace for the Congress is that its Vice President, Rahul Gandhi, will tour the state on November 6, a day before the campaigning comes to an end.

Contrary to this, the BJP has fielded its entire top brass — from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his cabinet colleagues, including Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and J.P. Nadda.

Even party President Amit Shah is aggressively touring the hill state.

“The Congress has failed to handle even sensitive cases like gang-rape of a schoolgirl. Our focus on coming to power will be eliminating forest, mining, liquor and transfer mafias that are active in the state for long. This will greatly help restoring the faith of the public,” Dhumal told IANS.

Political observers say issues like development have been pushed to the background as personal attacks dominate most of the election rallies.

“Apart from mudslinging, there is no public-specific agenda with both the leaders. They are just trying to woo voters by raking up personal issues,” an observer said.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Singh is the main “star” of the party campaign in the state.

“Virbhadra Singh is campaigning on the ground and the BJP is baffled at the response he is getting. We don’t have to be loud to impress the people, like the BJP is doing,” Surjewala told reporters in Shimla on Thursday.

Virbhadra Singh is targeting Dhumal by saying he has always worked with a political vendetta against him.

But a confident Dhumal believes there is a favourable wind prevailing for the BJP’s return as the present government has wasted much time in the ongoing corruption cases against Virbhadra Singh and his family rather than focusing on development.

The future of the arch rivals will be pronounced on December 18, the day the votes cast will be counted along with those in Gujarat.

The Congress won 36 of the 68 seats in Himachal Pradesh in 2012 with a 42.81 per cent vote share, while the BJP bagged 26 seats with a 38.47 per cent vote share.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in) –IANS