Congress moving towards a split?
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Congress moving towards a split?

July 16, 2019

By T.J.S. George

Rahul Gandhi’s insistence on not continuing as Congress President was the best thing that happened to the Congress in a long time.  He must stick to it. Confusion and chaos, perhaps even cracks and crumbling may follow. That, too, would be good for the party which is 134-years-old now. Everything needs renewal, rebirth and sometimes reincarnation.

A new kind of Congress is what India needs. If it can emerge only from the ashes  of the existing set up, so be it. The exodus of Congress MLAs to the BJP (Goa, Karnataka, Gujarat) need not be taken seriously. It’s just seasonal commerce. The BJP is the richest party today and has Ministership also for trading. Let them trade.

Mean minds will no doubt interpret things in mean ways. The churning in the Congress led the BJP to gloat over Congress-mukt Bharat, a phrase promoted by  strategist Amit Shah. What they meant was an Opposition-mukt Bharat, a North Korea kind of situation where elections are held with exemplary regularity, turnout is near 100 percent and the ruling group always gets 99.9 percent of votes cast. Since we are more advanced than North Koreans, we came up with impeccable slogans such as One Nation-One Election and, yes, One Party-One Leader.

Amit Shah’s BJP, as distinct from Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s BJP, sees the Opposition  as an avoidable nuisance in a Democracy. But it is not. It is a means of survival in a country with 22 official languages, 1,652 mother-tongues, 29 civilisationally different States, six national minority religions and the majority one comprising six philosophies, two schools and numerous sects. Such delightful diversity can be turned into a One Nation-One Party set up only with fascist methods. An Opposition means                                 less fascism.

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In the current phase of history, the Opposition happens to be extraordinarily weak. While the Congress is looking for an identity, groups like Sharad Pawar’s NCP have gone rudderless. The JD(S), on the edges of power here and there, has become untenable because of outdated family dominance. A. H. Vishwanath, resigning as JD(S) Chief in Karnataka, said: “Even after near-total decimation of the party in the recent elections, the Gowda family refuses to realise that public sentiment is against them.”

In contrast to the self-absorbed, power-at-any-cost Gowda attitude, Rahul Gandhi’s renunciation of power looks noble. The Congress’ own internal corrosion surfaced  when ancient gentlemen like Sushil Kumar Shinde and Motilal Vohra were proposed as substitutes for Rahul. Manoeuvrers like Ashok Gehlot unashamedly sang their own praises. Only Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh understood the gut of the problem. Go for a young man as Party President, he said.

Precisely. This is the time for the Congress to go for a  Sachin  Pilot  or  a  Jyotiraditya Scindia or a Milind Deora. And give  them  real  power.  Let  them  restructure the party as the changed climate requires. If this antagonises ‘veterans’ like Gehlot and Sanjay Nirupam, consider it good riddance. If it leaves self-promoters like P. Chidambaram unhappy, consider it a gain.

If a contingent of tainted veterans leave and the party is split, it should not be seen as a setback for the Congress. The Congress was split in 1907 between Extremists (such as Tilak and Lajpat Rai) and Moderates (Gokhale, Pherozeshah Mehta). It was split again in 1969 when the Syndicate expelled Indira Gandhi and Indira formed her own Congress.

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The best thing that can happen to the Congress now is another split, with the more selfish among the old guard leaving and youth taking charge (Pilot is 41, Deora 42 and Scindia 48). Veterans who command respect, such as Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam  Nabi  Azad can still have key roles to play.

Most critics who cite Mahatma Gandhi’s advice that the Congress should be disbanded do so without grasping the context in which he placed the idea. What he said was: “India having attained political independence through means devised by the Indian National Congress, the Congress in its present shape and form has outlived its use.” It  was really a call to change the shape and form of the organisation to suit changed circumstance. That is precisely today’s need as well.

Rahul Gandhi has prepared the ground for Mahatma Gandhi’s advice to be translated into practice.  It  is a  call for the rise of a new Congress. Parties are made by men.  What man has made, man can  change.

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www.tjsgeorge.info

4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Congress moving towards a split?”

  1. Bhamy V Shenoy says:

    My great appreciation to T J S George. Well articulated article with several pearls of wisdom. Congressman should use this article as its strategic planning report. BJP should also learn from this article. Opposition mukt article will sow the seeds of the BJP also. In democracy where different views are not respected is not democracy. In fact BJP has already started to suffer from this virus even before India has become opposition mukt. One can be critical of Nehru for any number of reasons – major ones being his affection for state domination in industry and giving lower priority for pre school to high school education. But there are many good things he has implemented – supporting true secularism (not the pseudo secularism of current crop of leaders), and promoting opposition (though he could not stand opposition in his own party). Let us all hope that Congress party will reinvent itself to provide a vibrant opposition.

  2. swamy says:

    Today, the name Congress brings disgust among people. Let them do some good deeds and win people hearts, and then think about restructuring.. Otherwise they will spend another century being opposition party (maybe 10 to 15 seats in Loksabha), and blaming ruling party (whatever it may be at the time)… They simply wasted good 70 years of India’s time to become a super power and world dominant economy.

  3. manava says:

    Nehru was a colossus. His family’s sacrifice, particularly , the sacrifice his father , a very rich lawyer and the son made for the cause of freedom was unprecedented. I had had the privilege to meet him along with my engineering degree course class mates in Teenmurti Bhavan, and his greatness of palpable. Indian in the post-independence situation was mostly agricultural country, and to move this country towards industrialisation was a mammoth task costing billions of rupees, which only a government could afford. Private entrepreneurs at that time was very few, and even them were looking for government support and vast profit margins. It is foolish to compare India with say US or other Western countries which have made the private sector work. The problem was these state-owned industries became corrupt citadels, engeeered by the officials, supported by local politicians. Nehru cannot be blame for this. It is the typical Indian psyche, as depicted by @Bhamy above, to blame one man, that was Nehru for all the industry ills. Public sector is not all bad-Germany has managed to achieve thriving public sector industries. Even the private sector industries got heavy government support when they emerged there.
    I am of the vintage that I saw many corrupt machinations of politicians even in 1950s, particularly in the then Mysore state. Look at the mundane problems of poverty, lack of clean drinking water etc.. that India suffers from, and misdirected planning of Chandrayaan, when on earth, in India these complex humanitarian problems exist in greater degree even 70 years after independence.
    I would say, democracy is not working because the country is corrupt with corrupt politicians, corrupt administrators and corrupt society. Split in a party will not cure anything. In the end, BJP will go the Congress way,

  4. manava says:

    To add to the delusion of private enterprise. For example Boeing in US, a land of free enterprise gets subsidies from the government in the form of research funding for example. Any one who works in US manufacturing sector knows the Federal Government subsidies to these industries come through the backdoor as research funding . Yanks howl against Airbus Industries subsidies masking their own subsidies to Boeing. It is only the IT sector, that is entrepreneur-driven. Blaming Nehru for the public sector manufacturing industries, which never existed before in India, and which could not be taken by the private sector is foolish and nonsensical.
    Politics is about people +power. In India both are corrupt. Today it s Congress that is in a mess, tomorrow, it will be BJP. Democracy is limping in India.

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