The Indian National Congress, now, a seemingly fading star, is the oldest political party in India. Formed in 1885, the party played a pivotal role in the freedom movement under the remarkable headship of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and many more. Given its mass based character, stronghold in most regions and legacy of the invaluable role in the freedom struggle, it led the process of nation building, constitution making and governance with soaring electoral backing. Known in academic parlance as ‘‘Congress hegemony’’, the party saw unprecedented popularity with Nehru’s charismatic and erudite premiership. Though with the debacle of emergency, Indira Gandhi ,on the whole, held popularity with the people and Rajiv Gandhi’s charming persona appealed to large sections. But given the present situation, in the era of coalitions, where focus on a single leader is out of question, and a rise in national and regional parties, the Congress dominance has seen a clear end amidst the masses. A party which was fueled by captivating leadership finds itself immobile with upcoming generations, who know of the legacy only through fables, getting inevitably disconnected.
While the disenchantment with the Nehru-Gandhi nomenclature couldn’t be made clearer by the common citizens of the country, the fanaticism towards the same remains rife within the party. The perception that the family is the binding factor, without which the party would descend to factionalism, is a reason the family remains on a pedestal. Another speculation is that the family holds the predominant finances of the party. If this were to be true, the family would continue to play the foremost role, even if, as a necessary evil in context of their humiliating electoral losses.
The sycophancy knows no bounds, with seasoned politicians blindly accepting the family as a paternalistic, hallowed figure. Any content that goes to challenge the sacrosanct image of the family or even points out basic human flaws is heavily condemned and censored. In this light, one should not miss the recent dismissal of a Mumbai based content writer working for the party’s mouthpiece Congress Darshan. His fault- questioning certain policy actions of Nehru and pointing out certain facts about Sonia Gandhi, regarded as ‘controversial. Yet, this is not a isolated instance.
Every power group tries to shape the discourse in accordance to the ideas and icons they revere. Particularistic preferences and made into universal preferences. Freedom of expression is meant only for those who conform to the interests of these groups. In the battle between who shapes the discourse and a close scrutiny on what is expressed, what happens to the pursuit of truth?