The winds have started blowing the other way. The pendulum of politics is swinging to a different side. A glimmer of hope and change is gradually taking form and unraveling from the gloom and darkness which had gripped the nation by narrow domestic walls.
When the Congress party attained its worst ever tally in the last Lok Sabha elections, as part of the small set up of the Digital Media War Room, dejected and saddened – we cried. We were a group of 20 odd people just trying to somehow sail our small and dilapidated boat against a phenomenon called the ‘Modi Wave’. Or as one of our seniors had curiously described us as a ‘small bunch of laborers, shouting unheard slogans in front of an MNC; which had a thousand times more access to resources than we had’. But we never gave up hope. I still keep that hope. On May 16, 2014- in the earlier few hours, frantically scrolling through the Election Commission’s website and somehow clutching at last straws to compare some losing margins, we were shattered. We knew we would lose- but we did not imagine in our wildest dreams that we would lose so badly. It was a moment of truth for me and for each one of us. We did not still, lose hope. We posted a ‘Thank You’ message from the official party page and thanked the voters that the party got almost 11 Crore votes (10.69 Crores to be precise) in the Lok Sabha elections. Just two days into the defeat, I did write this, reflecting on what went wrong.
In the next one month or so, we thought- that now since it is a battle between David and the Goliath – we should just keep pricking the BJP with issues that matter to the people. Choosing our fights, picking up small manageable battles and hurting our political opponents –inch by inch when they failed to deliver on their promises and live up to the expectations of the people. A time will come that this humongous ‘Goliath’ infront of us shall politically collapse. As an aside, I do want to add that, we in the Congress’ ideology do not think of “BJP Mukt Bharat’- we, unlike the BJP-RSS, do not practice negative politics and we know that India is a thriving vibrant Democracy that we have built and nurtured and we do not want to weaken its values. We want a billion ideas to flourish in India.
This tactics of taking baby steps to secure the future of our people by questioning the BJP- time and again- repeating the same messages- again and again- has now weakened the BJP. We still don’t know to what extent. We still don’t know whether it is the just the Congress which is responsible for it or is it someone else. We are still not sure if BJP’s lofty promises and absolute non-performance is responsible for it. We still do not know whether a bunch of collective factors are responsible for it. But something very large is building up against the BJP. In the words of Harish Khare, who recently wrote an interesting piece saying ‘A Million Mutinies are taking place…” Yes, I agree that umpteen uprisings are certainly taking place in India and that is certainly reflective of the present discourse.
I am no astrologer and I can’t predict future. I do not know how this will pan out. Politics changes in days. To repeat that oft repeated cliché- ‘a week is a long time in politics’- I do not know what is in store for the Congress or for the BJP in 2019. But I do know one thing- People of India are increasingly getting fed up by this Modi Government.
There is a deep sense of betrayal in every stratum of society. More and more, it is looking that no one is in charge in this Government, as if it is running on autopilot. No one better than a hardcore Congressperson like me could feel this stagnation, because we use to experience the same at the last couple of years of the UPA. But there was a difference. The clear difference is that the UPA’s downfall was not only it’s own making, but also a concerted effort, laced with heavy propaganda machinery on the ground as well as off ground, by the BJP-RSS, sometimes camouflaging them into an “India Against Corruption’, in order to deliberately shatter the UPA. In contrast, although yes, a million mutinies are taking place- none of them are being fanned by the Congress in a manner that was done by the RSS during the UPA period.
Farmers are unhappy, distressed and marching on the streets. Economy is in dire straits- there are no jobs for our youth and a virus of ‘paper leaks’ to deliberately jeopardize their career is being abetted by elements of the Sangh Parivar, in active collision with the ABVP created ‘Exam Mafia’. Law and Order of the country- and specially the BJP ruled states is in deep turmoil. Rapes and gruesome, unspeakable and unthinkable crimes against women are rising by the day and the BJP is only indulging in whataboutery. Bank Loot Scams of colossal proportions have completely wrecked and paralyzed our Banking systems. Institutions, such as the Parliament, Judiciary and even the Election Commission are being systematically denigrated. Internal Security is clearly endangered with daily attacks on our security installations that have never happened before. Foreign policy is directionless and has destroyed relations that were carefully built over decades. Dalits are being subjected to barbaric atrocities and their rights are being diluted by getting legal stamps. An atmosphere is being consciously created to start a debate on Reservations- that will provide some solace to BJP’s core upper caste supporters, since they are disillusioned and dejected by policies like the flawed GST, cutting of savings rate, midnight knocking at the door by the tax men and finishing trade and businesses.
Cronysim is flourishing. Forest dwellers and Tribal are being told that they now no more have any rights on their natural resources. States are angry because they are not being provided with adequate economic share. None of the schemes that Modi launched or advertised have yielded any results. Infact Modi Government has absolutely nothing to show.
This is not the Congress’ creation. Infact, we have been just about successful in highlighting some major issues. And we have improved our Communication. Everything is Modi Government’s own undoing or doing. Demonetisation was not a Congress’ idea. A Flawed seven tax rate GST was not a Congress idea. Paralyzing the Banks by taking over RBI’s powers was not Congress’ plan. Facilitating the escape of Lalit Modi, Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, MehulChoksi and Jatin Mehta was not the Congress’ doing? Daily increase of petrol-diesel prices and earning a windfall of Rs 7.5 Lakh Crore in 3.5 years without helping the common people was not a Congress’ deed. Promising 100 SMART Cities and a Bullet Train, without improving basic infrastructure was not Congress ‘assurance. Buying only 36 Rafale jets in thrice the price, by neglecting experienced PSU and opting for a crony friend is not the Congress’ doing. Lynching people on what they eat, was certainly not Congress’ plan of action.
Flip-Flop and Saree-Shawl-Dinner diplomacy with Pakistan and vacuous U turns on China and Doklam and enabling the latter’s presence at that region was not a Congress’ ‘misadventure’. Showing ‘Laal Aankh’ and ’56 Inch Chest’ to China and Pakistan was not Congress’ boastful rant. Promising to bring Black Money worth 80 Lakh Crores and depositing 15 Lakh in every Bank Account was not Congress’ promise to the nation. Although Congress did present a ‘White Paper on Black Money’ during UPA and showed BJP the mirror of truth that real ‘Black Money’ resides in India. Interfering in the Judiciary and threatening the Media by calling them ‘Bazaroo’ & ‘Presstitutes’ is not Congress’ agenda. And it is only the BJP who gave us the slogan of “Achhe Din’ and later called it a ‘Jumla’!
So what has Congress party done as an opposition till now? Are they only banking on BJP’s failures? Or do they also have a plan for 2019?
Since we know these things and one may read that here, I would like to just to recap in brief- The first success of Congress party as an opposition came in when the Land Acquisition Act was not amended by the Modi. From ‘Suit Boot Ki Sarkar; to ‘Fair & Lovely Scheme’ to ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’, ‘Shah-Zyada’ to ‘Shourya Gatha’ to now ‘Bas Ek Aur Saal’ – Rahul Gandhi and the Congress ensured that the Modi Government is cornered on a plethora of issues like crony capitalism, black money, corruption, agrarian distress, shady defence deals and much more. In the past four months or so, whenever you see there is injustice or wherever you see that the Government is abysmally failing to deliver or is maintaining a studied silence- You see a Congress party intervention. The latest is the spontaneous Candle Light Vigil on April 13th at India Gate, in the backdrop of series of gruesome rape cases and BJP’s support of rapists; where Nirbhaya’s parents also participated.
The Congress now seems to be carving a vision for 2019.A month ago, I had the privilege to attend the two-day Congress Plenary Session.There were many firsts. The empty stage bereft of lounging leaders. The ‘never-before’ feature of panel discussions on ‘Media’, ‘Social Justice’ & ‘Vision 2030’. The ambiance. Stadium decorated with Congress symbols, rather than leaders. An exhibition gallery with rare portraits, that reminded us of our past. A programme hosted by the young. A TV friendly stage with LED screens and so on. All this has been already noticed, extensively commented and written about, but in all this, people did not miss the message.
The message from the 84th Congress Plenary was crystal clear. The Congress party has “done it before” and “shall do it again”. Pardon the exaggeration, but it is a tradition, which no other political party in the world has ever followed. A tradition of ushering ‘Change’. Every decade and sometimes in between, the Indian National Congress with absolute flexibility tries to adapt itself with the times and the growing aspirations of the Indians. It remains the same, infact it has been time and again been berated as a ‘status-quoist’ party; (sometimes even by its own supporters) but those who have observed and followed its working since decades, can certainly vouch that every Plenary session, there is a nuanced approach to recast, reform, revitalize, reorganize, reconstruct and reorient. This innate message of ‘Change is NOW’ may have been understated in some of the speeches, but was razor sharp and extremely precise in Congress President, Rahul Gandhi’s speech.
Every Resolution adopted in the Plenary- be it the Political, Economic or on Agriculture & Employment or be it the resolution adopted on Foreign Policy issues- Each had a set of concrete suggestions and an implementable agenda for the future. Three important policy interventions for the future that the Congress party would implement came out distinctly. First, to create jobs– by encouraging manufacturing units and skill development institutes based on the uniqueness of that very district. The Economic Resolution clearly reads that “The Indian National Congress resolves to win back economic freedom for India’s entrepreneurs, especially the micro, small and medium business persons, protect them from harassment and provide a stable business environment.” Second, to solve the procurement issues of the farmers and smoothen the supply chain- Congress party promised a huge network of food parks. Third, to put quality emphasis on higher education, Congress will open institutes of excellence like the IIT’s, IIM’s, IISC’s etc in every district.
Certainly, change is in the air, it’s just a matter of one year now.