India Needs A Congress Without Gandhis (For Democracy’s Sake)

Posted by ramon burns in Politics, Staff Picks
November 23, 2017

A question which has at some point in time crossed the mind of every person with even the slightest amount of concern for national politics, is how long will the grand old party plan on ruthlessly milking the Gandhi name and putting to shame the basic principles of democracy, the very thing that Mahatma Gandhi and many other bled for. The Congress party today stands as an epitome of undemocratic politics in India and in its present form is failing miserably to serve its present purpose of a strong opposition. The Gandhi family has proved itself beyond a reasonable doubt, as the true torchbearers of nepotism.

The Indian National Congress has now announced a presidential election, which for the lack of a better word can be described as nothing more than a pantomime. The crown prince would be aiming to secure the first place in the race for the office of INC president, which he may just be running ‘alone’.

Not acquitting the other parties from charges of replicating the scheme of passing down political empires as inheritance, the INC by far, has been doing it in the most brazen fashion. Generation after generation of the Gandhi family has wrapped itself around the INC, stifling it of even the slightest possible room for progressive development. The decay in the INC is leading an organisation that took more than 100 years of grass-root level work to move towards a slow, painful and almost inevitable death. The culture of passing down political mantles to undeserving kin is one of the most prominent reasons why progressive, well-educated youth of the country have stayed away from politics. And then what you get as loyal party workers are a brood of hooligans, unworthy of public office, who intend to push forth their political aspirations through appeasement of political families.

Even the fact that the INC failed to secure the position of lead opposition was not enough for the state units or any other leader to raise their voices against the Gandhis.

The only reason that comes to mind for this voluntary oblivion in INC state leaders is that a huge part of the INC cadre today comprises of bootlickers who do not have the spine to oppose the Gandhi hegemony. This has happened over decades of pruning out of dynamic, forthright and assertive leaders in the INC ranks.

One of the most significant factors of the BJP’s historic win in the 2014 general election was, without doubt, Narendra Modi, a grassroots worker who climbed the party ladder through a dint of hard work and years of party-building efforts. And pitted against him was a political aristocrat, detached from the quintessential Indian, who failed to even stitch together a few sentences in public. It was a no contest from the word go. But what was most surprising is the fact that despite the virtual annihilation the INC suffered at hands of the BJP, there has been almost no change in the organisational structure and no corrective measures to undo its wrongs. On the contrary, the party has chosen to tread the same path again and again.

At the post-defeat press conference in 2014, there stood a frail party president explaining the reasons for the beyond-humiliating defeat. And behind her was none other than the architect of the catastrophe, the Gandhi scion, who to the surprise of the national media appeared almost unmoved by the defeat. It is this very person, whose only credential is his last name, who is being propped up as the next president of the INC, a position held by illustrious personalities in the past. The mere fact that he is being expected to fill the boots of the likes of Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherozeshah Mehta, RC Dutt, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya and many others, reflects on the paucity of credible, self-made leaders in the INC.

However, a strong opposition is indelible to the functioning of a democracy. And for this reason, India today needs the Congress without the Gandhis. Challenging the might of the Bharatiya Janata Party, whether it be in its bastion of Gujarat or on the national stage, is going to be a task to reckon with. And presently, there seems to be just one party that has the organisational framework to do so — The Indian National Congress.

For that to happen, the Congress would have to be torn down and then rebuilt again from the ground up.


Image source: Kevin Frayer/ Getty Images