‘Operation Mal‘ by the BJP has flopped in Rajasthan. Democracy has received a small victory in India’s largest state, giving a lift to the Congress get together’s hopes of a nationwide revival. For this, the credit score ought to go primarily to the decisive motion by the 2 leaders who now command the very best diploma of assist inside the get together – the brother-sister duo of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. They have been ably assisted by get together colleagues, each young and old, of their reconciliatory efforts to persuade Sachin Pilot right into a ‘ghar wapasi’.
Pilot was a rising younger star within the Congress earlier than he thoughtlessly raised the banner of revolt in opposition to the Chief Minister to whom he was Deputy. Whether or not the revolt was on the bidding of the highest nationwide management of the BJP, or the BJP exploited his revolt to mount yet one more “Operation Mal‘ to topple the federal government led by Ashok Gehlot, is just not totally identified. It most likely was a mixture of the 2. No matter it was, it failed.
I owe an evidence right here for utilizing the time period ‘Operation Mal‘, as a substitute of ‘Operation Kamal‘ to explain the BJP’s despicable designs to steal the folks’s mandates in states the place it misplaced meeting elections, Madhya Pradesh being the most recent instance. In Hindi and in lots of different Indian languages, ‘mal’ means muck. Within the context of our dialogue, it connotes how the BJP, whose get together image is ‘Kamal’ (lotus), has used the muck of cash muscle and misused the facility of democratic establishments, together with that of pliant state governors, to dislodge non-BJP governments and set up its personal.
The BJP’s prime leaders within the bygone period, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani, used to take satisfaction in saying they selected the lotus as their get together image for a deliberate motive. Throughout my years with the BJP, I used to be impressed every time I heard them exhort get together employees – “Kamal grows in keechad (soiled water), and but stays clear. Equally, our political life should stay clear though we’re working in an surroundings that’s extremely corrupt and soiled.” Moreover, Vajpayee and Advani, together with different opposition leaders, typically slammed the then ruling get together, the Congress, for misusing the governor’s workplace for partisan positive factors. For apparent causes, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have by no means repeated this principled exhortation. How can they, when their acknowledged aim is to make India “Congress-mukt“? And to be truthful to them, when have they ever claimed they’re dedicated to doing politics in moral methods?
Pilot’s homecoming has ended yet one more sordid episode in India’s malfunctioning democracy wherein the buying of MLAs with affords of obscene quantities of soiled cash and quarantining them in five-star resorts has turn out to be the brand new regular. Nonetheless, the Congress management can not turn out to be complacent after its success on this inside conflict-resolution. “The place is management within the Congress? It has merely evaporated.” This was the general public notion when the Modi-Shah skullduggery toppled the Congress-led governments in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh and put in BJP governments in Goa and another states though it lacked widespread mandate. There was rising unease even inside the rank and file of the Congress due to two consecutive debacles in parliamentary elections, adopted by a chronic and debilitating uncertainty over who will succeed the ailing Sonia Gandhi as get together president. A few of this despondency will disappear now that Rahul and Priyanka, appearing with exceptional resoluteness and alacrity, have ensured that Pilot doesn’t turn out to be Rajasthan’s Jyotiraditya Scindia – one other rising star within the Congress who not solely turned a turncoat by defecting to the BJP however was additionally instrumental in felling the Kamal Nath-led authorities in Madhya Pradesh in March.
The crises in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have underscored the pressing want for the Congress to strengthen its inside mechanisms for battle prevention and determination. Variations amongst get together members and functionaries in any democratic polity are pure. Nonetheless, it’s the prime duty of the highest management to make sure, with truthful and well timed motion, that variations don’t develop to turn out to be grievances, grievances don’t trigger dissensions, and dissensions don’t spark revolts. This doesn’t matter a lot in authoritarian events, akin to what the BJP has now turn out to be, as a result of worry and coercion forestall its leaders from airing variations even inside get together boards. When severe variations do come up within the BJP, the mom organisation, the RSS, steps in to resolve them. (It should be talked about right here that the ethical authority and capability of the RSS to do that job are tremendously eroded as a result of lots of its functionaries coping with BJP affairs have themselves fallen to the temptation of enjoying energy politics.)
Issues are completely different in a democratic get together just like the Congress. First, it’s not cadre-based. Second, it doesn’t have an exterior entity just like the RSS to mediate inside get together variations when the necessity arises. Third, as Mani Shankar Aiyar has described in a superb article in The Indian Specific lately, the Congress is in no place now to fulfill the calls for of all its pushy members because it not holds the reins of presidency on the centre and in lots of states.
Subsequently, if the Congress needs to recapture the creativeness of Indian folks, particularly the youth, it should evolve a brand new organisational tradition wherein the negatives of ‘dynastic’ management are greater than made up by the positives of empowering a brand new crop of leaders who’re extra idealistic and fewer individualistic. And since Rahul Gandhi is sort of sure to return as get together president – the earlier it occurs, the higher it’s for the Congress – he and his shut colleagues should maintain their ears to the bottom and develop a hands-on method to coping with organisational issues. With out this, the Congress can not turn out to be a cohesive and combative political organisation able to fending off relentless threats from an unscrupulous BJP.
In latest months, Rahul has proven unmissable combativeness in exposing the Modi authorities’s failures. This, together with the most recent success in Rajasthan, is definite to place some metal within the actions of Congress employees everywhere in the nation. Nonetheless, the get together must do much more if it needs to emerge as an alternative choice to the BJP in 2024. Past criticising the federal government, it should constantly and convincingly current its personal constructive concepts that deal with the nation’s wants and other people’s issues.
There’s additionally an enormous concept the Congress should pursue. It is time Rahul initiated efforts for ‘ghar wapasi’ of one other sort. He ought to enchantment to Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Jaganmohan Reddy, and others who give up the Congress at completely different factors to merge their regional Congresses with the mom get together. As an interim step in direction of eventual merger, there could be a federative framework wherein the Congress, NCP, TMC, YSRCP and others can work along with a standard agenda. On the premise of my private conversations with a few of these leaders, I can say with confidence that they’re eager to see, and work for, the reunification of the Congress Parivar. Solely a reunited and revitalised Congress Parivar can reply to the nation’s name in these troubled instances to safeguard its unity, defend its democracy, and shield its cherished constitutional beliefs. Let’s not overlook that the unity of the Sangh Parivar is the principal motive for its monumental power.
(The author was an aide to India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.)
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