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Little ‘Chintan’

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Rahul Gandhi was just a few sentences into his speech at the Congress Party’s ‘Chintan Shivir’ when the Indian Badminton Team won the ‘Thomas Cup’ and the media shifted its gaze to this spectacular news. This, more or less, symbolises the present condition of the party – even the fates are not with it. Anyway, the theme of the Congress leader’s speech was already evident as he attacked the BJP for its ‘divisive’ politics and extolled his party’s ‘unifying’ ethos. (Uttarakhand’s Yashpal Arya had his moment during the speech when he was mentioned as a ‘witness’ to the ‘undemocratic nature’ of the BJP.)

From what information has emerged from the ‘Shivir’, thus far, it is clear that confusion continues to reign, as do the Gandhi family loyalists. It is pathetic to see the likes of P Chidamabaram, a leader with barely any support in his home state and a discredited image in the rest of the country, articulating essential elements of party policy. Ditto for Digvijay Singh! Having tried the soft Hindutva line and failed, the attempt now is to try and occupy the caste space of regional parties with demands like reservations in the private sector, et al. The party seems to have given up hope of obtaining the ‘general’ category and middle-class votes. In its bid to ride the caste bandwagon, it promises to scare away private industry and investment, which requires undiluted meritocracy to be globally competitive. The present bleeding of high quality human resources to the developed world will also be accelerated as youth lose hope of getting what they deserve in their own country. It seems yet another way to dumb India down to the Rahul level.

All kinds of measures have been spoken of to rejuvenate the party cadre, involving reservations, of course, but the sight of the octogenarian leaders in the front line at the ‘shivir’ and their continuing clout gives little cause for hope. The party’s ideological drift means it will continue to borrow from the radical Left, whose strategy is to aggravate and exploit fault-lines to create conditions that may be exploited by those without stakes in the present dispensation. This is bound to divide the Congress, as has been seen recently in Punjab. Sonia Gandhi’s call for the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ seems ironic in that context. And blaming EVMs for electoral defeats is refusing to acknowledge the reality. It’s sad to see India’s GOP reduced to this present state. A lot more ‘chintan’ is required!