Millennium Post

Its either my way or high way!

Narendra Modi wants a ‘Congress-free India’. I am sure, nothing could be more dangerous than this thought process which is based on the sinful purpose of introducing ‘untouchability’ in the world of politics. This slogan itself has an inbuilt element of hatred which has a potential of destroying the basic fabric of our democracy. It is ironical that a controversial leader himself struggling to acquire a semblance of legitimacy at the national level is raising the slogan of Congress-free India with the motive of polluting the atmosphere for his personal gains.

The Congress whose history is synonymous with the history of modern and free India hasn’t become the most respected political organisation of the world because of the mercy of forces of obscurantism; on the contrary, it grew in strength to take the freedom struggle to its logical conclusion despite betrayal of these forces who were happy receiving certificates of good conduct from the British rulers and then struggled to wipe off the ignominy of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination after the Independence. The Congress became what it is, a progressive, secular, democratic party committed to serve India by fighting the forces of communalism, bigotry and intolerance, and the latest challenge thrown by the newest and sharpest hawk of divisive politics will be rebuffed resolutely. India has lived and grown with the Congress, such inimical forces which do not represent Indian ethos, cultural essence and political values appear and disappear like a flash in the pan.

But this hawk, flying with a beseeching obsession to become the Prime Minister of India, has thrown up a few very disturbing questions for the sensible Indians to ponder. Does nationalism, which Narendra Modi’s party, the BJP, claims to be guided by, entails cultivation of a fascist trait in the national discourse? Fascism, explained in a simple term, is intolerance of any kind of opposition, of differing views. Here is a man who doesn’t tolerate people within the Sangh Parivar who refuse to toe his line, bulldozes leaders within the BJP who dares not to nurse his fierce ambition and treats as enemy all those who have a problem with his intolerance.

Modi thinks his success in clobbering people within his ideological fraternity, from Sanjay Joshi to Praveen Togadia in the RSS and from Sushma Swaraj to L K Advani in the BJP, would enable him to conquer India and banish the principal political party of the country, Congress, out of Indian shores. If somebody thinks that the sensible citizens will not analyse the political acumen and mental orientation of a person like Modi, before handing over the fate of more than one billion people to him, will be proved wrong in next summers.

At times it becomes difficult to guess what is worse – ignorance or arrogance. And if these vices come in a package, it creates a man who dreams of a Congress-free India. I have no objection to this dream motivates fringe elements but such grotesque ideas injects an avoidable virus of hostility and cynicism in the political discourse. If an Arvind Kejriwal speaks this language, betraying little faith in the constitutional scheme of our democracy, one can understand an outsider’s yearning for being noticed in the big league. But a leader who has been elected thrice as chief minister demonstrating such intolerance, such exclusive traits, such ignorance of systemic responsibilities of the nation-state, it is a cause for alarm. Modi doesn’t want those who fight for tribal welfare in the National Advisory Council, he doesn’t appreciates the prime minister’s sense of accommodation, he wants this country to be run on personal whims and fancies, he believes in my way or high way. Had the Congress pursued this approach since Independence, what would have happened to the Sangh Parivar’s ideology that was not in tune with the idea of pluralism, equality of religion and creed and opposed the very essence of Indian Constitution.

Anybody who aspires to play a meaningful national role should understand the majesty of Constitution is for the believer as well as the non-believer. The President and the Prime Minister, two top constitutional posts, cannot distinguish one from another; they are the ultimate custodians of national values, they have to protect all, to treat every citizen as equal. A leader who thinks somebody who champions the cause of tribals, minorities and the oppressed cannot join the NAC, the interface between the civil society and the government, is ineligible to hold top positions in this country.

I don’t know if the implicit message is that only advocates of the rich and the powerful are supposed to be included in the advisory bodies. Parties with such predetermined notions are unfit to rule this country of the poor.  In the light of such preposterous views, everybody can understand why the cry for making a Congress-free India. Till the Congress is a factor in India, nobody can dream of trampling down the spirit of inclusion. Till the Congress is in India, those who think of the poor, the weaker sections, the farmers, the labourers will remain at the helm of affairs. Till the Congress dominates the political discourse in this country, the thrust will be on poverty-free India, hatred-free India and insecurity-free India. Narendra Modi, whose only commitment is to himself, to become the prime minister come what may, has set a perverse agenda today; and tomorrow, he will set an agenda for a India that has a monotonous society and is run by him in his favourite autocratic way.
The Congress has a leadership that is committed to serve every section of India, that is determined to uphold India’s pluralistic ethos and fight the forces which are desperately trying to rip off the multi-colour social fabric of this great nation. We have Sonia Gandhi who set the agenda for development and welfare against the dangerous divisive politics of the 90s’, we have Rahul Gandhi who is devoted to pursue this agenda against the new and heightened threat of bigotry, of elitism and of self-serving politics.

The world and India have seen such high and low tides of narrow politics, that abnormality is temporary and fleeting. I am sure, the paradise in which Modi is spending his nights these days will also evaporate if India has to stay what it is – peace-loving, tolerant and democratic.

The author is a senior journalist and the national secretary of Congress party
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