‘Daro Mat’ should become the Congress war cry: Tushar Gandhi
Ahead of the party’s 85th plenary session, we asked a bunch of political observers how they see the road ahead
Ahead of the party’s 85th plenary session, we asked a bunch of political observers how they see the road ahead. Here is what Tushar Gandhi, author and great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, has to say.
He opines that front organisations like the Mahila Congress, NSUI, Youth Congress and Seva Dal must become the fighting arms of the party, with a sharper focus and clearly outlined responsibilities. They must become the first point of contact with the people, take up their cause and fight for them. Read on:
The Congress seems to have found some bounce from the Bharat Jodo Yatra. How can it build on this positive momentum?
The Bharat Jodo Yatra brought out in high relief the difference between the Congress and the BJP. When Prime Minister Modi visits cities or receives foreign dignitaries, the squalor of slums on the route are hidden behind curtains and high walls. Poverty seems to shame the leader.
In contrast, Rahul Gandhi embraced the poor, reached out to them and patiently heard their anguish. The Yatra has initiated a process of healing, a process reminiscent of Mahatma Gandhi’s walks through the riot-ravaged districts of Bihar and Noakhali in Bengal. Speaking against hate and spreading the message of love and unity must continue.
The Yatra also demonstrated that the battle against the BJP will have to be fought on the streets. The gloves have to come off, and Congress workers and leaders must be prepared to receive blows and shed blood because there is no other option.
Many well-intentioned critics say the party organisation needs to be revitalised. How?
I’ve always felt that in their starched, spotless khadi, Congress leaders look disconnected from the grimy reality of the people they represent. Their outfit seems to confirm their disconnect, their non-performing status. These leaders shouldn’t stick out as they do: crumpled clothes are better than starched kurtas, to at least give the impression that they too are workers and willing to get their hands dirty. Tokenism? Perhaps, but necessary.
Front organisations like the Mahila Congress, NSUI, Youth Congress and Seva Dal must become the fighting arms of the party, with a sharper focus and clearly outlined responsibilities. They must become the first point of contact with the people, take up their cause and fight for them.
The Seva Dal used to have a presence in every village. These front organisations must throw up candidates the party fields in elections.
Do you see the Opposition coming together for Lok Sabha 2024? Can the Congress be the fulcrum of that Opposition?
Ideologically and historically, the Congress has been a national party with a national outlook. It does not put regional interests above national interest, and it must never compromise on this position. But the Congress does need to accommodate the prima donnas in the opposition ranks, make some allowances for their egos and ambitions.
How can the Congress fight the BJP’s divisive agenda?
The Sangh and its hate-mongering leaders have little to counter the message of love, compassion and inclusiveness seen in the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
But the Congress cannot capitalise on the goodwill generated by the Yatra if it fails to consistently condemn all utterances of hate, prejudice and divisiveness, whether it comes from friends or enemies. Rahul Gandhi’s message of ‘Daro Mat!’ and ‘Inquilab Zindabad!’ must become the party’s war cries.
Is it possible to simultaneously be welfarist and aspirational? What should be the pivots of the Congress’s alternative agenda for the country?
India can never completely discard the model of a welfare state, given the glaring inequality. Most people still lack quality, affordable healthcare. India’s future depends on quality education and the declining standards are of serious concern.
The private sector has grown, but has shown little appetite to shoulder the growing burden and meet the challenges in the health and education sectors. Nor has it been up to the challenge of providing steady employment.
While the Congress is equipped to formulate a vision for the future and an alternative plan of action (as demonstrated in its 2019 manifesto and by Congress governments in the states), the party must also ensure that loyalty to the party trumps loyalty to leaders.
TUSHAR GANDHI, the author of Let's Kill Gandhi, is the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi
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