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Principled Battle


It’s happening before the nation so people later should not claim that they did not know. In simple terms, the Congress presidential elections are taking place between what can be described as Monarchists and Republicans. There are those who believe that real power in the party resides with the Nehru-Gandhi family, which has the inherited right to rule, while the others feel that the party exists to serve the nation the best it can. Mallikarjun Kharge represents the ‘monarchists’, while Shashi Tharoor is fighting on behalf of the ‘Republicans’. Even the G23 members have lined up behind the ‘official’ candidate, abandoning whatever self-respect they may have had. All the claims of wanting reforms in the party have proved to be hot air. Their discontent was plainly because they had been sidelined in the regal ‘court’ and they are now finding the present situation an opportunity to regain lost favour.

This is by no means an exaggeration if one recalls how, during Manmohan Singh’s prime ministership, an outright extra-constitutional body, the NAC, was created for Sonia Gandhi to preside over, whose members comprised appointees that were basically camp-followers. Functionally, it was above and beyond the Union Cabinet and Parliament as it was answerable to no one. Do not be surprised, if power returns in their hands, they work on foisting a hereditary Peshwai on India.

Hopefully, Shashi Tharoor will stick it out by not being pressured into withdrawing his candidature. By doing so, he will establish a standard of integrity that will, even in defeat, prove an example for party members in the future. The fact that, should he become President, he would overshadow the heir-apparent in every way has scared the wits out of the courtiers. His support among a significant section of the people, particularly educated youth, should not be underestimated. As a ‘South Indian’, he is quite adept at speaking Hindi, and has a sophisticated understanding of the nation’s social, cultural and civic ethos. He has already described how he intends to rejuvenate the party. It is no wonder that Kharge chickened out of a debate with him. In the end, it may prove just a symbolic battle, but people will remember Tharoor for his commitment to democratic values. Many who believed that he is just a verbal dandy will have changed their opinion of him.