Now ‘Rajya Jodo’ yatras to build on the momentum of Bharat Jodo
The Bharat Jodo Yatra has revived the Congress’s ‘idea of India’. The party has to carry the burden of reviving a democratic culture . To do this, it should organise ‘Rajya Jodo’ yatras in every state
Ahead of the Congress party’s 85th plenary session in Raipur (24-26 Feb), we asked a bunch of political observers how they see the road ahead.
Political critic and former VC, Yashwantrao Chavan Open University, Nashik, Sudhir Gavhane feels the Congress must take the lead in initiating a dialogue with India's prime opposition parties, in reaching out to them and sustaining the dialogue in mission mode.
The Congress seems to have found some bounce from the Bharat Jodo Yatra. How can it build on this positive momentum?
The BJP fantasy of India as a Hindu Rashtra is at sharp variance with the Congress’s idea of a multi-cultural, multireligious, inclusive, secular nation. With the BJP increasingly behaving like the natural party of power, the clash of these two ideas has looked one-sided in recent years.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra has given a fresh lease of life to the Congress’s ‘idea of India’, put a spring in the step of the party organisation and enthused party workers. It has also created a lot of goodwill, which the party must find ways to harvest.
As the only national party in the Opposition, the Congress has to carry the burden of reviving a democratic culture and of educating people about the threats to that national ethos. To do this, the party should organise ‘Rajya Jodo’ padyatras in every state, poll-bound or not, over the next six to twelve months. It also needs to hold cadre-training workshops, conventions and chintan shivirs from the taluka and district level upwards, to revive the morale of party workers.
Joint rallies with other parties at different levels will build confidence and camaraderie in the opposition, and lead to opposition unity. The party must also launch a mass campaign to collect small donations, of `100 to `1000, to overcome the handicap of not having enough corporate funding through electoral bonds.
Do you see the Opposition coming together for Lok Sabha 2024? Can the Congress be the fulcrum of that Opposition?
It’s hard to fight the ambition of smaller and regional parties to grow bigger, have a national imprint, increase their vote share and aspire to be recognised as a ‘national party’. The aspiration of leaders like Arvind Kejriwal or Mamata Banerjee may divide the opposition vote, to the advantage of the BJP, but their aspiration is not illegitimate.
With the Congress weakened, its strength in the Lok Sabha as low as it is today, it’s no surprise that other parties do not see it as the main challenger to the BJP. But the Congress must take the lead in initiating a dialogue with these parties, in reaching out to them and sustaining the dialogue in mission mode.
Is it possible to simultaneously be welfarist and aspirational? What should be the pivots of the Congress’s alternative agenda for the country?
Economic prosperity without social justice is offensive, and social justice without social mobility and harmony is practically useless. So, the Congress has to be welfarist and simultaneously find ways to nurture people’s hopes and aspirations for social mobility.
SUDHIR GAVHANE is a political critic and former VC, Yashwantrao Chavan Open University, Nashik