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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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Gujarat Elections: The Fight to the Finish between Congress and BJP

The counting of votes for the Gujarat elections will begin on December 18 at 8.00 AM

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The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Women on their way to the polling booths in Gujarat on December 9, VOA News

 

  • The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress into a close contest over the seats.
  • The exit polls predict a victory for BJP.
  • The counting of votes will begin at 8.00 A.M. on Monday, December 18.

The Gujarat elections, which were carried out in two phases on December 9 and December 14, will finally come to its culmination on Monday, December 18, as the counting of votes will commence from 8.00 A.M. The Gujarat polls, over which seasoned BJP politicians such as Narendra Modi and Amit Shah  have locked horns with the newly appointed president of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, have been subjected to numerous speculations and predictions, ever since the two political parties have launched themselves into relentless campaigning for the various constituencies.

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Rahul Gandhi kissing his mother after being elected as the President of Congress on December 16, 2017, VOA News

Congress vs. BJP: Who will Win the Gujarat Elections

The campaign for the Gujarat assembly elections has been a vehement one for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has extensively referred to the growth index and other statistical details while enumerating the virtues of the BJP government. His developmental policies, such as the Ujjwala Yojana through which free LPG gas facilities were provide to households below the Poverty Line, have made him immensely popular among the women of Gujarat. Modi’s appeal as the ‘son of the soil’ has earned him support in the urban and commercial hubs of Gujarat, in spite of the brewing discontent over demonetisation and the imposition of GST. The BJP has also succeeded in securing the support of the tribal people of Gujarat, who were previously considered as a stronghold of the Congress.
However, with the trio of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, Rahul Gandhi seems to have infused young blood into the Gujarat elections, and has thereby attracted a significant number of young voters. Hardik Patel, with his political acumen has become a potential threat for the BJP, as multiple scandalous tapes of him as well as his aides have not decreased his popularity. In North, Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch, people seem to be disappointed with the BJP government, since the much-applauded ‘Gujarat Model’ has failed to solve basic issues in their lives, such as shortage of water.

 

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the voters at Kalol, in the outskirts of Ahmedabad on December 8, 2017, VOA News

Gujarat Elections: The Exit Polls

The Gujarat Polls of 2017 have often been hailed as one of the closest competitions faced by the BJP government during its 22 year long tenure as speculations are rife regarding who will win the Gujarat elections. However, in spite of the unyielding campaign by the Congress and Rahul Gandhi, the speculations hint towards another victory for the BJP in the state. An aggregate of nine exit polls in Gujarat show that the BJP is expected to secure 162 seats, while 65 seats may be secured by the Congress.

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Rahul Gandhi Elected as President of Congress Amidst Celebration of Followers

The 47 years old has been Vice President for a while during the tenure of his mother Sonia Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi becomes president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi steps down
Rahul Gandhi steps in as President of Congress, Wikipedia

Rahul Gandhi was elected to the position of the President of Congress after his mother Sonia Gandhi stepped down in his favour on December 16, at a ceremony in the AICC Headquarters in Delhi. In an event attended by sister Priyanka Gandhi, brother in-law Robert Vadra and veteran politicians such as ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi became the sixth member of his family to have ascended to the position of the President of Congress, after a significantly long period of apprenticeship as the Vice-President.

 Rahul Gandhi becomes the president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi Steps Down
Rahul Gandhi steps in as President of Congress after a speech by his mother Sonia Gandhi. Wikipedia

Sonia Gandhi Steps down

In an emotional farewell speech, Sonia Gandhi thanked all the party members who had supported her in the initial days of her 19 year-long tenure as the President of Congress, as she nostalgically recounted how she had never intended to join politics, but was thrust into it by the tragic circumstances. “Meeting this challenge was not the achievement of one individual but the continued efforts of all of you,” said she, addressing the crowd for the last time as the President of Congress. Sonia Gandhi, whose election to the post was preceded by the assassination of her mother in-law Indira Gandhi as well as her husband Rajiv Gandhi, expressed her confidence and pride in the spirit and resolve of her son, stating that his training as Vice President has made him “Stronger and unafraid”. Sonia Gandhi’s speech, however, was constantly interrupted by the noise of firecrackers, which were being burst by some members of the party, who were celebrating the much-awaited election of Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi steps in as President of Congress after a speech by his mother Sonia Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi with the Prime Minister of Greece at New Delhi, Wikipedia

Rahul Gandhi becomes President of Congress

The 47 years old Rahul Gandhi, who until recently was engaged in an active campaign for the upcoming state elections at Gujarat, was awarded the Certificate of Election by Mullapally Ramachandran, the President of the Central Election Authority of Congress. “Politics belongs to the people, it is their greatest weapon in dismantling the structures that oppress, silence and disempower them,” stated the newly elected President of Congress, calling himself an ‘idealist’, who looks forward to better days. Rahul Gandhi’s fiery speech was met with much applause and appreciation, especially from the younger members of the party.
In 2013, the ascension of Rahul Gandhi as the Vice President of Congress was followed by a loss in nine state elections, and a victory in three. The election of the president comes at an interesting point of time, with the upcoming elections in 16 states, as well as the national election in 2019.

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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