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

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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.

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Image source: Kevin Frayer/ Getty Images
You must be to comment.
  1. kiran mehta

    # IF you want Congress to go into extinction;stop writing about d fools/rogues that have fooled U & the generations…past/future….

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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