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Crisis In Congress: Is The Grand Old Party Losing Its Relevance?

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Will you call the present state of Congress a “sinking ship?” If you do, you are not wrong. It is getting hard for the party to find a baseline in Indian politics, following heavy losses in recently held Assembly Elections in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, the crisis in Punjab, etc.

Now, a senior Congress leader in the Manmohan Singh government and a senior Congress leader Jitin Prasada joined the BJP ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections.

Sidhu and Amrinder Singh
Navjot Singh Sidhu and Amrinder Singh.

The party is facing political turmoil in Punjab, Rajasthan. Assam Congress is unhappy too after their debacle in the Assembly Elections. After so much effort, the Congress high command seems to have found a solution to the tussle between Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and his target CM Amrinder Singh. However, it can be calm before the storm.

Talking about another important State, Rajasthan, there are also rumours that Sachin Pilot is unhappy with the leadership as a political crisis in Rajasthan has once again come to the fore. If few media reports are to be believed, Ex-Deputy CM Sachin Pilot has said that his concerns which he raised last year against CM Ashok Gehlot are yet to be addressed by the concerned panel constituted by Congress high command.

The senior leader has shown his dissatisfaction with the Congress panel as it failed to keep what it has promised.

Even the rival BJP in Rajasthan took a potshot at Congress leader Sachin Pilot and claimed that anything could happen anytime, which has given air to his exit from the grand old party.

The internal conflict is far from over and so is getting the Party President. The leadership of the Grand Old Party is still beholden to the Nehru-Gandhi family, which has lost the plot and is running out of ideas and its old charm does not have many takers, electorally speaking.

From losing party leaders to internal war, Congress is facing it all. The grand old party is almost out of Indian politics and the biggest reason behind this is the lack of strong leadership. The party which ruled India for so many years now doesn’t have a permanent President.

Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi
Representative Image. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Recently, news came out that the Congress Working Committee (CWC) proposed to conduct internal elections on 23 June to elect a new President. However, the CWC later postponed the polls after most members opposed the date due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Sometimes, it looks like Rahul Gandhi and mother Sonia have clearly lost their command over the leaders and workers, as its leaders continue to slam each other publically. However, a phenomenon like this has never been seen in the ruling BJP.

Earlier, strong leaders like Jyotiradtiya Scindia quit the party and put so many questions on the party’s current ruining system, affecting the Congress’s credibility and sustenance further.

One of the major reasons that are or will behind the fall of Congress is nepotism or corruption. The party is only considered to be a Gandhi family. Nobody is beyond that. Also, there are strong leaders in Congress. However, because of family dominance, they never get a chance to prove themselves. Hence, people are losing faith in the party.

The public has sat tight for quite a long time, yet, neither Swarajya nor Ram Rajya came to fruition. Rather, the individuals acknowledged, nepotism and debasement were expanding step by step in the political framework. It was not Ram Rajya, yet, the Raaj of one family — the Gandhi family.

The family alone records for three head administrators, who managed the nation for around 37 years, while an additional 10 years of administration in the 21st century was likewise to a great extent driven by the Gandhi-Nehru line.

Gradually, as disappointment set in, the Congress system began to decay. There was a time when Congress was considered as the pioneers of India, an umbrella association where the entire nation learned about ways of coexistence; however, it has now become a weak opposition.

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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

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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