The Congress first started experimenting with communal politics under Mrs Indira Gandhi
It’s a conundrum as to how the Congress remains a confused entity with respect to its core values, which are also those of the nation. This, despite its history and the lessons taught it at regular intervals by the people of India. The latest instance where it has allowed itself to be dictated by the uncertainty is in Madhya Pradesh where it took in its ranks Bajrang Sena, a Hindutva entity, ahead of the Assembly polls scheduled for the end of the year.
The Congress first started experimenting with communal politics under Mrs Indira Gandhi at a time she had been battling the onslaught of a combined Opposition. From then onwards, the party dropped its own commitment to the secular ethos and caved in to communal pressure whenever challenged by the Opposition or by Hindutva outfits. The year 1992 witnessed the culmination of this phenomenon — when the Babri Masjid was razed, the Congress remained a mute spectator.
Every electoral success of the Congress Party since has been made possible by taking up the real issues of the people and not by the attempts to outdo the BJP in Hindutva politics. The 2004 victory in the Lok Sabha election and its repeat in 2009 are shining examples. And the latest one is its performance in Karnataka where it determinedly stuck to its traditional planks of welfare and good governance even in the face of an outright communal and casteist campaign by the BJP. The people’s mandate was to end a corrupt regime, and give themselves some hope in the face of disastrous economic policies.
India, born amid communal strife, chose to walk the secular path despite having a choice. India’s foundational values have not changed much. It must dawn on the Congress, too, that it cannot defeat the BJP in the Hindutva game. And it can still win elections without wearing the anti-Hindutva dogtag.