The Indian National Congress began in the pre-Independence era as the main representative of the country’s freedom struggle. This occurred over many decades with a number of leaders from different parts of the country following different angles of thought and action in order to remove the British colonial rule.
The Congress had many illustrious members and leaders — from BG Tilak and Rabindranath Tagore to Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Subhas Chandra Bose — reflecting a concerted effort of many dedicated individuals to restore India’s great civilisation, not simply to bring about its political revival.
The Congress continued after Independence as the main national party with the followers and strength to run the country, a great responsibility that it struggled to fulfil. It reinvented itself as a political party but with a narrower format.
After Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, the party slowly became the Nehru dynasty party, a family-dominated hierarchy, reducing the scope of its leadership and action. It lost its national and cultural identity and the regard for its many previous leaders and came to focus on one figure above all, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Nehru, however powerful, no longer represented all the voices of the freedom movement, nor did he have a similar regard for India’s great civilisation. He was in many ways closer to the British than to the masses of India in terms of his culture and values that was often more British than Indian. Nehru was not supportive of the Hindu tradition or its modern renaissance that began with Swami Vivekananda and the world yoga movement. He did not visit temples or gurus or continue in the Gandhian spiritual model.
Nehru marginalised the older Gandhian Congress, which had lost its leader, and developed his own Nehruvian Congress allied to the erstwhile Soviet Union and Red China, imitating their economic schemes and following a similar ideology of British Fabian Socialism.
Indira Gandhi continued this “Congress plus the Left” trend and allied with the Communist Party of India electorally and educationally. Marxist thinkers like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Ram Sharan Sharma and Bipan Chandra came to form the new intellectual wing of the Congress, controlling national educational institutions and influencing the media. Thinkers who didn’t belong to the far-Left became almost banned from academia and the media.
Sonia Gandhi and her UPA rule strengthened this old alliance with the Marxists in 2004, though global communism had largely collapsed along with the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1991. She also relied upon the communists on both electoral and intellectual levels, for their votes and ideas.
More recently after the massive defeat in 2014 by the BJP under Narendra Modi, the Congress has allied itself with the communists in West Bengal and in a so-called Grand Alliance against Modi and the BJP, starting with Bihar.
The party has moved further to the Left, leaving behind any centrist space in the country to the BJP, which has revived many of the Independence leaders that Congress in its Nehru fixation had ignored, such as Sardar Patel and Netaji Bose. It now seems closer the Independence movement thinkers in its inspiration than is Congress today.
The Congress today is more comfortable ideologically and culturally with the far-Left than with the BJP, with anti-Hindu forces than with any form of Hinduism or regard for India’s ancient civilisation. Yet, it is not the leader of the Left parties today but only one of its many players.
This shift has expanded further in 2017. The party is imitating and following the far-Left in its prime political issues that extend to sympathy for Kashmiri separatists, JNU protesters, minority appeasement, protection of beef eating and allowing the slaughter of animals. There is little of Mahatma Gandhi in the party today and nothing of Vivekananda or Aurobindo. There is no positive or new economic and developmental agenda for the country like that of the BJP either, just Leftist angst and outrage.
The Nehru dynasty has declined and lost its power and credibility. It does not have a strong leader and is now becoming an also-ran party. Rahul Gandhi, the Congress vice-president, does not demonstrate the stature that can inspire others and Sonia is too unwell to lead the party. The identity of the Congress as the Nehru dynasty no longer commands respect, but no other alternative leadership exists.
There is no doubt that the Congress has suffered greatly for its long-term alliance with the far-Left. As the party has lost power throughout the country in a string of recent electoral defeats, this alliance has only pulled it down. It is becoming just another far-Left, anti-Hindu party, in league with the communists, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, etc. It is no longer leading the Opposition against the BJP ideologically or by strategy, but mimicking these far-Left parties and their ever more shrill rhetoric and violent actions.
The Congress has long lost its identity as India’s national freedom party. It is slowly losing its prominence as the Nehru dynasty. It is becoming merely another far-Left party with no independent intellectual voice of its own. Now it seems the party is busy destroying itself in the shadow of the Left.
(Courtesy: Mail Today)