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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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Awakened to The Congress’s Blatant Support to Anti-Nation Forces

This time from foreign soil, Germany, Rahul Gandhi has spoken out his mind

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Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi.

By Salil Gewali

Sometimes I feel too confused that what makes a leader speak so badly about the country. Still more confusing is that the same leader is projected as the only fittest in the country to be the Prime Minister.

This time from foreign soil, Germany, Rahul Gandhi has spoken out his mind. With gay abandon he claimed the lack of employment is the cause behind the rise of ISIS. If we analyze such statement objectively, we see that the unprecedented danger is looming large around this country not because of the citizens but because of the irresponsible leaders.

Is it not too shocking that we tolerate a bunch of leaders all through who, with impunity, tramples upon prudence and embrace the fickleness by speaking with such rashness? The ridiculous ranting is what Rahul Gandhi is good at. How many immature gaffes he has committed in last one year. One finds it too sickening to see people defending what Rahul utters out? Again, to his party’s sycophants, each word spoken out by him is worth its weight in gold.

Could any conscious people come across the board to evaluate what will be the likely repercussion when the projected leader goes to the extent to connect the unemployment of youth with ISIS? What do you say — if a certain father harps on that his children will be dagger-wielding murderers if they will not get jobs? What message does it send out? Will such ideas not “viciously affect” the thought process of the children in future? One wonders how the constitution allows the leaders to speak out such dangerous language. Will it not encourage the treasonous activities within the country leading to the decline of the security and sovereignty of the nation?

Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi.

Despite the height of stupidity, Rahul Gandhi is capable to earn more admirers then criticizers. Is it a pointer to the fact that one man’s loss of sense should lead to the “loss of sense” of other intellectuals? Or do we love an “individual” from a particular family more than our own “country”? On what ground is an “individual” more respect-worthy than the “party”, country and its constitutional ethos? This is in fact a very ominous trend which this country is witnessing now.

True, our Indian polity needs a strong opposition. People do not disagree at all that Congress should not be the one. Yes, this party can alone match well with the rival BJP. But sadly, the party is failing when Rahul started to become more vocal. The party with so smaller number of MPs has not yet “acknowledged” that its rapid decline now is because it continues to sing a hymn to one family only. The conscious Congress party leaders should come down to the ground and critically assess the people’s opinions and their concerns. They all have been intensely disillusioned by the dynasty politics.

Has this “family” not pleasantly ignored a very learned and seasoned leader Pranab Mukherjee by reducing him to just a rubber stamp?  Are Sachin Pilot, Ghulam Nabi Azad, C. P. Joshi, Ashok Gehlot, Jyotiraditya, Scindia, Priya Dutt, less Indian? If BJP can groom Kiren Rijiju why can’t Congress groom the astute leader of the northeast like Gaurav Gogoi or Vincent Pala or Mukul Sangma ? No exaggeration, Sachin Pilot could diplomatically handle the political situation and articulate the party policies far more maturely than entire Gandhi family members put together.

Enough is enough. People now anxiously await the REVIVAL of political parties with vibrant faces who genuinely love the country. We have seen enough of the anti-nation activities incited by the Gandhi family.  It’s totally wrong to be the puppets of a wrong family and spell doom for the nation. PM Modi rightly says that service to the country is far more important than the service to the family.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.

One response to “Awakened to The Congress’s Blatant Support to Anti-Nation Forces”

  1. During the UPA/Congress government there had been numerous terrorist attacks, Mumbai trains, Zaveri Bazar, 26-11, plus the attacks in Ahmedabad, Pune etc. Was this situation because the terrorists could not find jobs during their rule? Compared to that there are very few terrorist attacks in India in last four years. So the terrorists must be gainfully employed in last four years !