Rahul's resignation

Kashmir Times. Dated: 7/8/2019 4:39:44 PM

If the soul searching within Congress is cosmetic, it is an irrelevant exercise

Rahul Gandhi taking up moral responsibility for the failure of the Congress in 2019 elections and resigning from the post of party presidentship can hardly improve the fortunes of the organization which has completely lost its ideological moorings in the recent decades. Post the 2019 debacle, it has become even more dis-oriented as it engages in mere shadow-boxing while oscillating between ideological extremes of secularism and soft Hindutva. From the Nehruvian ideals of liberal democracy, secularism and socialism, Congress has moved a long way away and become an apologist of neo-capitalism and Hindutva. More than Gandhi's resignation, the party is craving for re-invention, the hopes of which may seem dismal in the present scenario. This is needed more than ever now with the BJP rapidly transitioning from hidden fascism to an open one, threatening the very edifice of Indian democracy and its secular and liberal spirit. It is anybody's guess how fast this transition would be once the BJP manages to get full majority in both house of the parliament; estimates are that this may be less than two years from now. Indeed, the BJP cannot be electorally beaten but a country facing immense onslaughts to its democratic functioning from the corridors of power requires a strong political opponent. Congress in its present form and the dissipating unity of the entire conglomerate of ideologically liberal parties pose no challenge at all. In fact, they have kept the entire floor vacant. What now imbues hope is not Rahul Gandhi's resignation but his resolve and commitment to an idea of India that is opposed to BJP's idea of bull-dozing democratic institutions, monopolizing all spheres of life and marginalizing minorities that he has highlighted in his resignation letter. His claim that "I have no hatred or anger towards the BJP but every living cell in my body instinctively resists their idea of India" and his pledge "to defend vehemently the idea of India that promotes plurality, equality and inclusiveness." His emphasis on need for neutrality of institutions including the media is a point well made. His recognition of the fact that the brute majority that BJP now enjoys will allow it to further trample democracy and his averment that democracy has been fundamentally weakened with dangers that elections from now on may be turned into rituals is even more significant.
Recognition and acknowledgement of the grave challenges is the first step towards a holistic assessment of the dangers to Indian democracy and building up a systemic fight and struggle against that. The words sound promising. But these cannot even create a ripple in the ocean. Besides they hem in the denial about how Congress has contributed both in previous decades and under his own leadership in failing to openly and consistently oppose the ideology that Rahul Gandhi is now talking about. The party was rudderless not because of a leadership but because of lack of a consistent ideology. During 2019 election campaign, if there was any opposition to the politics of hate, it was more in whimpers. An acknowledgement that the party failed to strongly oppose the Hindutva ideology is also due. More importantly, will Rahul Gandhi be able to walk his talk and help rebuild both the party, fueling it with a sense of commitment to the ideals of secularism, liberty and democracy, as well as have the steely determination to stand up against the un-democratic policies and actions of an ultra-powerful government. It is in easy task and puts his abilities to test.



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