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Options before 'family-controlled' Congress: What future for Ghulam Nabi Azad?

By NS Venkataraman* 

It appears to many in India, especially who are not involved in direct politics, that Indian democracy is suffering to some extent due to lack of principled and credible opposition. Indeed, the absence of a strong opposition party in India is a matter of concern.
Unfortunately, most of the opposition parties in India are essentially regional outfits, and many of them are family-controlled having little presence in several states.
The two Communist parties parties have virtually reduced themselves to the level of regional outfits, as the leadership has not moved with the time and modified their traditional Communist way of thinking, which is appears to have outlived its purpose.
Due to advancement in science and technology and industrial practices and changes in economy and management practices, especially in the commercial and industrial sector, new types of conflicts have arisen in the country between the organized and the unorganized class.
Meanwhile, even airline pilots, employees in software companies, and those employed in commercial banks etc., are claiming trade union rights or organizing themselves on the trade union pattern.
In such circumstances, the Communist parties in India seem confused, as these organized sections cannot be considered by any stretch of imagination as oppressed and suppressed. Yet, they are members of trade unions under the control of the Communist parties.
Claiming itself to be a Communist country, China is liberally adopting capitalist policies. The result is, the view has gone strong that communism as a political philosophy has lost its sheen all over the world.
With both the Communist parties out of reckoning from the national scene, the only political party left now on the national scene is the Indian National Congress.
It does not call for much analysis and deliberation to conclude that the Congress is now facing a crisis of confidence and leadership. No one knows today as to what the party stands for. It has aligned itself with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra – branded communal by it earlier – to form the government, raising many an eyebrow.
However, the main allegation against the Congress by BJP is that it is a dynastic party and essentially controlled by one family. The BJP’s view has picked up across India. Indeed, the dynastic character of the Congress leadership threw Rahul Gandhi into the leadership position of the party.
Rahul failed to make an impact upon large sections of people; the view has gone strong that he cannot lead a national party. His tantrums like hugging the Prime Minister in Parliament even as sarcastically winking at MPs have failed to impress. Many wonder whether he lacks maturity. Meanwhile, the image of the Congress has taken a beating.
It is in the national interest as well as in the interest of Indian democracy that the Congress is revived and should be enabled to function as a principled and forward-looking party, even as getting back its credentials.
However, the party cannot be revived without an effective leadership. It should understand: Blind loyalty to the Gandhi family cannot be a panacea for its revival. It should choose a leader who has the courage of conviction to stand by the party’s principles.
It is in the national interest and democracy that Congress is revived and should be enabled to function as a principled opposition
Even Rahul appears not interested to lead the party, even though many of the leaders still consider him as the de facto president. Meanwhile, the view continues to grow that the Gandhi family will never give up the party’s control whatever may be the cost.
This situation calls for some sort of determined and dignified decision. The Gandhi family should make its position clear: It is not interested in continuing in the leadership, even as ensuring that a person who is not from the family takes over the party’s reins.
Following the recent pronouncements of Ghulam Nabi Azad and the group of leaders he has collected around him, the view has picked up in some quarters that he appears to have the necessary quality to leader the party.
Azad started as a Youth Congress leader and has always conducted himself with decorum and dignity whether in Parliament, in government or outside. He has refrained from making abusive remarks against those opposing the Congress. Indeed, he looks taller than many other leaders.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Azad in the Rajya Sabha. While many interpreted it as a political praise, Azad responded with dignity. It seemed to many that it was in the tradition of the past lofty scenes like Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajaji praising each other on occasions, though they were in the opposition camp after Independence.
Given this framework, one wonders whether Azad be allowed to take over the reins of the Congress. A mature political leader, Azad would be critical of the ruling party, even without using abusive language. For instance, he wouldn’t ever call the Prime Minister a thief, a word used by Rahul to describe Modi.
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*Trustee, Nandini Voice for The Deprived, Chennai

Comments

Anonymous said…
Very simplistic,clearly mainly written to oppose Rahul Gandhi. What about cheapness and vulgarity of PMs discourse.Talking of peincipled politics in RSS time is meaning less.hate is their only principle

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