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The Congress Party Needs To Shun Dynasty Politics To Stay Relevant

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Sachin Pilot’s possible exit from the Congress Party has opened a new Pandora’s box of political realignment which can further deepen the crisis within the grand old party. Pilot, who is regarded as the working force behind the party’s win in Rajasthan in 2018 by defeating the incumbent BJP, was even speculated once as the replacement of Rahul Gandhi for the party’s top job.

Someone of his stature, snapping ties with the Congress party has raised several eyebrows. News channels report that Pilot has the support of 30 MLAs of the Rajasthan assembly. If proven right, this can put the Ashok Gehlot government in the minority.

The leadership crisis in the Congress Party is no longer a secret. It seems that every single individual is bothered about the party other than their own top brass. Rahul Gandhi’s flip-flop nature and reluctance to take responsibilities have cost them heavily in the consecutive elections. But the party’s unwillingness to go beyond the Gandhi family has resulted in the total alienation of its young talents. This includes Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora and plenty more.

Sachin Pilot (left) and Jyotiraditya Scindia (right).

The exodus of Pilot has exposed the vulnerability of the loose structure of the Congress party and the imminent potential fallout of more leaders to other parties soon. This is not the first time that leaders have deserted the Congress Party due to its unethical behaviour towards them. Big names like Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Jagan Mohan Reddy, Hemanta Biswas Sharma, Scindia, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, S.M Krishna and plenty more have all severed ties with the party in the past. 

Hemanta had publicly stated that he was humiliated by Rahul Gandhi for snubbing him multiple times. He left the Congress for the BJP and played an instrumental role in making the NDA governments in all the states of North East India. 

What needs to be questioned here is Congress’ desperate attempt to keep the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty at their political helm. With every other leader sidelined and the dynasty’s growing disconnect with ground reality, the future of the Congress looks dull, leaving behind any scope of revival.   

The Congress party in Rajasthan was in shambles post the 2013 Assembly elections with the party winning just 21 seats and the BJP sweeping the State with 162 seats. The grand old party performed even worse in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with the BJP winning all 25 seats in the State. It was Sachin Pilot who rebuilt the State’s Congress organisation and led it from the front to grab the State even with a wafer-thin majority. But things changed once Ashok Gehlot was chosen by the party’s high command as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan and Pilot was sidelined by giving him the token of Deputy Chief Minister. 

It needs to be noted that the Congress passed through the same dilemma in Madhya Pradesh where the old guard got leverage over the Young Turk, Jyotiraditya Scindia. Scindia later left for the BJP, his loyalists resigned and the BJP formed its government in Madhya Pradesh with Shivraj Singh Chauhan as its Chief Minister. 

Scindia left for the BJP and the BJP formed its government in MP.

From the political drama unfolding in Rajasthan and observing it’s striking resemblance with MP, ultimately, it can be said that the Congress party has not learned any lesson from their past mistakes. Have you ever wondered why there are no voices for change in the basic structure of the Congress party from the local leadership of various states? 

The answer is that there are smaller dynasties within every State:

  • In MP, Kamal Nath’s son Bakul Nath, 
  • In Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s son Deepender Singh Hooda, 
  • In Assam, Tarun Gogoi’s son Gaurav Gogoi, 
  • In Tamil Nadu, P. Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, 
  • In Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav Gehlot, and the long list of dynasties go on. 

Without putting an end to this dynastic culture it’s impossible for the Congress party to nourish leaders on the ground level and fight with a cadre-based party like BJP. If at all Sachin Pilot joins the BJP and the Congress government falls, Maharashtra will be the Saffron Party’s next target since the already fragile Maha Vikas Aghadi has resorted to massive infighting.  

With an over-ambitious party like the BJP on the other side, Congress has no chance of existence without a change of guard and altering its working style. Still having no intention of growing beyond an uninspiring leader like Rahul Gandhi, India’s oldest party is getting closer to its near political oblivion.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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