Reincarnation of Congress!

Jawaid IqbalAt long last, there is some good news for India. As recent political developments in the Hindu-majority land suggest, India’s main opposition Indian National Congress, under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, is making a comeback, regaining the political ground it lost at the hands of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a couple of decades ago. Of late, the Congress party won a key provincial election in the southern state of Karnataka, defeating the ruling BJP by a significant margin. Though the Congress victory seems nothing more than a drop in the ocean given the formidable political clout exerted by the BJP, headed by the two-time Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the recent win prefigures quite a positive direction back to the path dotted by secular values, forbearance and tolerance towards the country’s minorities in particular.

Rahul Gandhi, the leading Opposition figure currently in the country, looks hell-bent on steering the world’s so-called largest democracy back to egalitarianism and democratic norms India was previously known for across the world. Vying for a just future for India, Gandhi is determined to root out the dysfunction lurking under the patina of sabka saath sabka vikas, together with the deep-seated corruption of Modi-led administration, plaguing the entire system to the detriment of the junta at large. As things currently stand, India is hitting rock bottom on various measures of women’s rights, freedom of expression and the state of religious minorities, mainly Muslims. Especially after the rise of the BJP as the ruling party, the state of democracy in India has been at its low ebb, while press freedom and the closely connected freedom of speech have been suffering a tremendous hit with no end in sight. The rising wave of majoritarianism and Hindutva-inspired fascism, that too in a country whose constitution was founded on the principles of secularism, equality, and respect for all religions, is turning today’s India into an increasingly illiberal society now boasting of far-right rhetoric, violent ethnocentrism, xenophobic sentiments, and one-party rule that revels in crony capitalism, coupled with ubiquitous jingoism and state-sponsored terrorism and ethnic cleansing of vulnerable minority groups.

However, in spite of showing signs of recovery with some promising prospects of faring well in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Indian National Congress is still far off the mark and has a long way to go in order to become an intimidating force vis-à-vis the BJP’s rising political graph in the centre. The grim reality facing the Congress leadership is its notoriety in the general public as a family enterprise that looks distracted by its own megalomania and greed for power as the party has yet to publicly exhibit what plans it has under its sleeves to take the country forward. Other than making hollow pledges of their commitment to rapid development and equality for all minorities and under-represented groups, the Congress needs to set its house in order much before the party runs the prospect of being reduced to a few individuals yet again while pulling the disappearing act owing to not taking into account a host of good governance principles and practices. The objective can only be achieved by reframing its socio-economic agenda and launching a robust political campaign on a war footing to counter the extremist yet pernicious ideology espoused by the BJP stalwarts. The reincarnation of Congress is on the horizon, but to resonate with voters hit by inflation, widespread poverty, rising unemployment and reducing space for the country’s minorities, the founding party of India needs to be equal to the situation to re-emerge as a force to be reckoned with.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
President & Editor in Chief