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Congress needs intensive care treatment

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A few months before his death, veteran Congress leader Sita Ram Kesri said that Congress had outlived its purpose and should have been disbanded years ago as suggested by Mahatma Gandhi. Maybe he was right. The original Congress was a culture, a philosophy and a value system – not a party. What exists today is a deplorable, dull, drab and ruined organization.

Jyotiraditya Scindia’s exit due to shabby maltreatment by the Gandhi family cannot be dismissed casually. As the Congress President and family friend Sonia Gandhi should seriously explore why Jyotiraditya was uncomfortable in the party.

It may be recalled that it was Jyotiraditya’s father Madhavrao Scindia who introduced Sonia to Rajiv Gandhi in 1966. Even after death of his father Madhavrao in a plane accident, Jyotiraditya Scindia has spent twenty years with the family after he was elected to Parliament.

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As a junior minister in the Congress led coalition government, Jyotiraditya earned a reputation of efficiency and performance. It was because of his efforts that the BJP was wiped off the power corridors in the last Madhya Pradesh last assembly elections. But instead of being appreciated for his performance, Rahul Gandhi ignored him and preferred instead Kamal Nath.

This is when he decided to quit the Congress and join BJP. His decision to distance himself from the party and the family is also because of his perception that Sonia is not willing to accept the pathetic condition of the party due to her string of mistakes over the past 18 years as the party chief.

As the Big Boss of the party for the longest term she has managed to reduce the great political organization into a family Jagir.

Ironically this is the same Indian National Congress which inspired millions of Indians to join the battle for political liberation. Mahatma Gandhi converted it into a forum for radical debate and a mass movement in 1918. Ordinary people from all walks of lives joined the organization forgetting their personal differences of religion, caste, class or creed. They silently suffered the blows of the British government’s atrocities, without even raising their hand to resist.

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Indian people gave a mandate to the party seven times in eight elections from 1952 to 1984. The Congress was voted out of power in 1977 and suffered so badly that it managed to get just one seat out of 339 in the North and East. Even post 1985 the party could not obtain majority in the last nine elections. In the last two elections it could not muster enough seats to be officially recognized as the opposition. It is in a pathetic condition without any hope of recovering. The leadership seems blind to the social and psychological transformation of the Indian society in last three decades.

The first Prime Minister saved Indians from falling prey to exploitation of both Capitalism and Communism. He was not in favor of exploitation and private profit objective of capitalism or deprivation of fundamental rights under state sponsored Communism. He did not abolish existing private establishments but imposed restriction on their expansion without a license from the government. He focused on development through public sector. The basic weakness in human nature is to grab as much as possible legally or even illegally as prosperity booms. It undid his efforts. Consequence of restrictive structure was in growth of corruption outstripping the economic growth.

His daughter Indira Gandhi had no ideological leanings or preferences. She swung the economic structure more to the left of the centrist model that was adopted by Nehru, only to marginalize the rightists in her party as well as emerging outside her party. She destroyed the democratic structure in her party only to ensure no internal challenge to her could be formulated within. She reduced every stature and structure to depend on her pleasure or be eliminated at her displeasure. In 1980, she replaced all leaders on their own with upstarts who could not even stand without her holding their hands. In 1975 she eliminated the opposition by putting them all behind the bars. She did not believe in need of the party apparatus but in her image.

Most politicians, political observers got under an impression that she defeated the rightist combine in 1971 on her promise to remove poverty though she never made such a promise. She referred to the ideal of removing the poverty. In her both the terms she used lure of resources to manipulate her vote banks but never threw them at poor without utilization for national assets. She encouraged the frequent loan festivals for credits for creation of wealth and not for consumption.

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Her son Rajiv Gandhi did not have clue of politics, economy or even social patterns. He wasted precious foreign exchange on liberal imports not for improving production at home but for luxury and comfort goods for wealthy. He did not realize he had condemned his own party as a bunch of power brokers in his presidential address at the centenary session of his party.

Narsimha Rao did not have to carry burden of the Gandhi family and he lost his courage to reintroduce the internal democracy in the party structure. He had to fight attempts to make him give up one of his two posts that he held in tradition set by Indira Gandhi in 1980. Even though the growth rate increased due to his opening few sectors for private participation, he could not win back power in 1996. The Congress party was again saddled with the Gandhi family. Sonia Gandhi was led to believe at the Congress session in December 1998 that her taking over the party signaled return of old glory. It did not as Sonia Gandhi could get only 113 seats in the 1999 election. In 2002 the party gave up its pretence of being the national party. But it did not restore the party to its past strength with a clear mandate either in 2004 or 2009. In entire 18 years, Sonia Gandhi treated the party as Jagir of her family.

She behaved more like a mother to ensure future of her son with her daughter sidelined. She could not see the rapid transformation of Indian society. As the party chief she nominated Dr. Man Mohan Singh to be the Prime Minister and be accountable though without power. She insisted and had the National Advisory Council that became the super cabinet. None of its members had popular sanction through votes. All were kind souls to believe that poverty can be removed through charity. They devised two schemes. Both were only for consumption without adding even a rupee worth to national assets. Both were to drain the national exchequer by Rs. 1.95 lakh crore.

She did not see like many others that Indian voters are not enticed with bribes in kind or money or influenced by caste considerations. They do not vote under threat of physical violence. The landslide outcomes in four elections confirmed it. Perhaps she could not break away from the persisting belief that her mother in law had enticed voters in 1971.

Sonia Gandhi was anxious to ensure that her son inherits the post that she attempted to ward off every possible danger to the congress prospects. Jyotiraditya was one sore person for her. The young Scindia earned name as an efficient compared to Rahul Gandhi. The young felt the pangs of maltreatment by the Gandhi family.

Sonia Gandhi was the cause for the debacle for the party in 2014 as her two allurements failed to attract poor but alienated the upper castes. It takes much more to make people to vote for.

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Vijay Sanghvi
Vijay Sanghvi
Political Commentator and Analyst Vijay Sanghvi, 81 has created a niche for himself as a seasoned media person with proven credentials and political, economic and social analyst since 1962. Sanghvi worked for five years in Mumbai for Gujarati papers before shifting to Delhi and continued to work for various dailies in Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi and English as well as for international media. He has many newsbreaks to his credit as well as inside view of many epoch making events. He covered parliamentary proceedings from 1967 till 2007.


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