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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 16-17, April 20, April 27, 2024

A ’Social Atmosphere’ is Being Created to Discredit the Congress as an Irrelevant Political Party | Arun Srivastava

Saturday 20 April 2024


Arun Srivastava

Suddenly, precisely for a week, the media has started writing off, rather disparaging Congress, attributing it as political party having no national perspective and also deprecating Rahul Gandhi as a meek challenger to charismatic and strong leader Narendra Modi. The most curious narrative that has been set on the roll is, the Congress will dissipate and even lose its national identity and status, as the main opposition.

Certainly, this has not as a surprise. The Godi (lapdog) media has launched this nature of insinuation ever since Narendra Modi came to power and launched a pernicious campaign against Pandit Nehru and started decrying Rahul as Pappu. In fact what has come as a amazement is the evaluation and analysis of Congress by the foreign media and their carrying editorial and op-ed pieces deprecating Congress. These media outlets have predicted a complete rout of Congress in the Lok Sabha election. They have every right to derive their inference. But it must have some element of rationality.

These stories create an impression as if the rightist forces have kaput the secular and democratic forces. This simply reaffirms that they subscribe to the narrative of the RSS and saffron ecosystem, built at the cost of Rs 635 crores, that Midi is the only strong man India has produced in the post-independent period. The media is also nurses the belief that he is the only leader of India’s Hindus.

Media analyses while trying to analyse the organisational and leadership disabilities of Congress portray a grim picture of Congress in Gandhis strongholds in Amethi and Raebareli. It is not a hidden fact that Congress has witnessed decline but across the country and especially in eastern and north India. It is also an open secret that support base of Congress has shifted during last four decades. During these years regional social forces arrived on the political scene in a big way. An analysis of their resurgence of regional forces would unravel the truth behind the decline of Congress particularly in northern India.

It is not a simplistic exercise to analyse the decline of Congress. The decline has a definite economic and historical perspective. This ought to be looked into from a proper perspective. In a rapidly transforming political economy, the aspirations and desires of the people have a major impact on the functioning and character of a political party. No doubt BJP has emerged as the new ruling party. But the main question still continues to haunt is whether it represents the aspirations of the people.

Denied of the prospect to assert their identity through the Congress and forced to play the second fiddle to the upper caste leaders, the backward caste and EBC preferred to shift their allegiance to the regional parties in sixties at the initiative of Ram Manohar Lohia. It is worth mentioning that for the first time regional force came to rule 9 north Indian states in sixties.

Instead of having a closer look at the political economic indices that brought about the social and economic changes, a deliberate attempt is being made to link the current decline of Congress to the hatred and anger of the common people against Nehru-Gandhi family. This is indeed a very raw and simplistic analysis and evaluation. The media experts often deliberately prefer to ignore the basic fact that economic developments shapes the politics of that country. It also metamorphoses the concept of social and political empowerment and their dynamics. These do not exist in utopia.

One thing is quite noticeable and certainly the experts should have applied their mind to find out the reasons for Narendra Modi consistently and in a well-orchestrated manner attacking and maligning Congress and putting all the blame for backwardness of India on Pandit Nehru. Obviously they must be having a clear understanding of the political economy of India. It is expected from them as they try their hands at analysing the future of India. Did they try to analyse the character of the Indian state and the economic growth India has been undergoing for last 30 years, especially ten years of Dr Manmohan Singh’s UPA governments. Certainly not. I would hesitate to say that these experts and analysts did not know the basis, the paradigm change that took place.

The media experts and analysts were carried away by the vilification campaign of L K Advani and Modi against Dr Singh. Advani had to settle his personal grudge. Modi was busy preparing future pitch. Advani used Vinod Rai, the then CAG, who presented a false and fabricated report maligning Dr Singh. He is blamed for turning a blind eye to the corrupt practices of some his allies. But how they would react to Modi make the most corrupt politicians sit in his lap?

I have one question for these experts; what economic policy India should have practiced in the post-Independent period. How they look at the mixed economy policy of Nehru or the opening up of the economy by Dr Singh. Finally will they clarify the nature of Modi’s economic policy? How has it helped the Indians, who Modi claims to serve?

This is basically part of the political strategy and philosophy of saffron ecosystem. More than any political party, RSS knew that with Congress in command, they would not succeed in accomplishing their mission. Though the left and socialists fought against Congress, a closer look at the RSS design would make it explicit that they wanted to replace Congress. Its economic policy has been a major deterrent in the path of the RSS and BJP to counter Congress. Cursory look at Dr Manmohan Singh’s police would make it clear.

While he encouraged the middle-class bourgeon, he at the same time c cared for the proletariat and marginalised. He introduced the Right to Food scheme and a guarantee for work, he did not offer alms in the form of free food. He did not turn the huge human force in an army of beggars or alms seeker.

RSS knows that display of any soft corner for Nehru would prove to be disastrous and suicidal for it. It would not be able to present a tainted image of the development and blame Congress for the poverty and poor economic growth during the post-independence period.

Observers and analysts must not ignore the political development that took place after the 2019 Lok Sabha verdict; massive desertion of Congress by its upper caste and feudal leaders which subsequently led to congressisation of BJP. The party units of almost all the northern states are controlled and run by these turncoats. Did ever the academics and experts try to decode the averseness of the RSS towards this and why it did not object to BJP’s move to hand over the organisation in the hands of these turncoats.

Their primary mission has been to broad base the party, win over as much of Hindus, precisely the liberal and rightist elements, as possible. It was not the element of common cause that made the BJP to embrace them or the upper caste rich and feudal lords to identify with the saffron. Two divergent interests allied to defeat the Congress which was perceived as a force antagonistic to their class interest.

It is wrong to construe that feudal and rich lords endorse the ideals and policies of Modi’s Hindu nationalist party. They have their own vested class interest. It is the RSS which with the mission to usher India into a Hindu Rashtra has been patronising them.

RSS and Modi are also enticing the Dalits and EBVCs into their fold precisely with this in view. RSS has only for this claiming the Dalits and EBCs as Hindus. But they are mistaken. The class interest and at the same time the divergent interests nursed by the two pose a serious challenge to the saffron ecosystem. It is a bare fact and none can deny that the Dalits and EBCs have flocked to RSS and Modi not out of their desire to be identified as Hindus, instead they have joined it use the political space for their political empowerment. They have come to realise unless they have their fingers on the political fulcrum, they cannot have their desire fulfilled of having full control on the economy and their economic empowerment.

This tendency is quite distinct in at least two states; Bengal and Bihar. Both these states have been under the political control of the upper caste landlords. Even in post Independent India, the OBCs and EBCs did not find that nature of opportunity to assert their rights and raise their voice. None can forget the gruesome massacres of dalits and EBCs that took place in Bihar during sixties, seventies and eighties. Saffron ecosystem, at that time represented by the Jana Sangh openly and brazenly identified it with feudal landed gentry.

Though Naxalbari peasant surfaced in West Bengal, the movement aroused the political consciousness of the Dalits and EBCs during sixties, seventies and eighties and ensured them a decent recognition through protracted peasant struggle led by CPI(ML) Liberation. The struggle made them politically conscious, but a section of these people needed economic empowerment and say in the power sharing system and mechanism.

This has been the reason that a section of the Dalits and EBC led by the regional outfits joined hands with the saffron ecosystem. But their bitter experience of neglect and exploitation by the BJP and RSS and has turned them frustrated. It was at this juncture came Rahul’s eye opener call for them; these people need share in the power. This has caused their imagination. This nee development has unnerved the RSS and saffron ecosystem. The latest desertion by the Congressmen of their party ought to be viewed in this backdrop.

They need to justify their desertion and for this the most convenient blame has been “lacklustre management by Sonia and her son Rahul and the family’s inability to rally the country’s fractured centre and centre-left opposition.” The expert ought to do some serious introspection and analysis. They must put a question to them: why is Modi unnerved of Rahul? If at all Rahul is bogus and lacks any charisma why Modi is consistently targeting him? Why these experts do not want him to act as political activist and not set a counter narrative instead jump into the electioneering?

One thing is absolutely clear that Rahul’s policy and to a great extent his politics is different from the traditional Congress policies and politics. Otherwise too Congress has not been a party having an defined ideology. It has been a conglomerate of various centrist, liberal and democrat elements. Like BJP it has no communal commitment and mission. How could the experts and analysts forget that entire range of political parties took birth by pursuing anti-Congress politics? It is also a fact that not all of them are secular.

In case Modi would not have let loose the reign of terror and tortured the leaders of small regional parties they may not have joined INDIA bloc and shared platform with the Congress. It would be wrong to construe that INDIA bloc is a heterogenous body. The general secretary of CPI(ML) Liberation Dipankar Bhattacharya was politically correct in saying: “INDIA has one mission and it is to ensure defeat of Modi. We are together against Modi”, The message is clear.

True speaking Congress has nothing much to lose. It is already marginalised in Indian politics. Whatever it would gain in the Lok Sabha will simply boost the image of Rahul and provide a new impetus to his left-of-centre narrative against the rightist and fascist forces and also at the same time will be the first intensive effort to integrate structural and ideological orientation and make Congress articulate the voice of the proletariat and poor. It is not the BJP, instead Congress under Rahul will be a major threat to the leftist forces. He would pick up the thread where the left has dropped.

India faces a serious void of political ideas and ideals. One thing is certain that BJP with its constricted politics and without any economic policy cannot not represent the aspiration of the people of the country. Modi is pretending to bring about changes, but it is faced. RSS will not compromise its basic philosophy and politics. In this backdrop the efforts of Rahul to project the Congress as a party committed to left to the centre ideology ought to be appreciated which is the need of the transforming time.

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