Kumaramangalam’s coup

That Congress is a sinking ship and is a fit case for desertion would be stating the obvious. Though, the exodus from this party of yore on a daily basis is a recent phenomenon, the erosion in its popular appeal had started long back. Having lost its stability slogan to the BJP and with too many claimants for the secular card biting away at its very roots, the party appears bankrupt in every way.

It is a great historical tragedy and rather an irony, that the party that led the nation to its freedom and since then for most part of the last fifty years now has none to lead it, if not to victory at least away from oblivion.

The Congress spokesman may claim that his party has not been affected by the exit of such ‘insignificant leaders’. But then for a terminally-ill patient, nothing really matters. Also, it reflects a refusal on the part of the party mandarins to see the writing on the wall or if seen to publicly acknowledge it and initiate corrective action.

Probably, those staying back in the Congress are more sure of the party’s fate than those who left it. After all the party is still solvent in monetary terms, thanks to decades of being in power and if the present hawks and doves, failed to inherit the Nehru legacy, or squandered away what little was inherited, they could always lay claim to the party’s fortunes. This forthcoming poll is no doubt going to be bad for the party, but it does hold a good financial augury for its leaders.

So, Rangarajan Kumaramangalam was not totally off the mark when he commented that the Congress has become a party of self-seekers. On the contrary, he has been little too soft in his assessment. Probably, it is his way of bidding a respectful goodbye to a party which he had nurtured close to his heart for three long decades.

If one were to read political opportunism in his entry into the BJP, one is really missing the point. The Left’s anguish that Mohan Kumaramangalam’s son should do this is grossly misplaced. Instead, they would do well to try and understand why he did it. Kumaramangalam and his family’s dedication and commitment to the cause of the nation as a secular entity needs no elaboration.

He is one of the few Congress leaders who had managed to emerge with clean hands, despite the party and most of its leaders getting blackened by an array of corruption charges. He was the first to voluntarily take up cudgels, against the demolition of the Babri Masjid and spearheaded a virulent campaign on behalf of the Congress to condemn the outrage, even when the party heavyweights sought to play down the incident on the specious logic that, good or bad, the vexed issue had ended.

That such a man should decide to join the BJP five years later is indicative of the thought process which has now gripped the entire nation. And to dismiss it with just a wave of the hand as an aberration is typical of closed minds that simply refuse to be woken up from feigned sleep.

The people of the country are secular. They, certainly do not need any initiation into the art of living in harmony with the brethren of other religions and creed. If only they are left alone in peace without the politicians reminding them of their castes and status, which they do to achieve narrow aims and to keep themselves afloat, the people would instead give these self-appointed custodians of secularism is really all about.

But for the present it appears certain that the voters are not going to be taken in by bogeys of communal disharmony if such and such a party were to come to power. Having said that, it should also be stated that any mandate for the same ‘such and such a party’ cannot also be interpreted as an endorsement of religious fundamentalism. Neither side should commit the mistake of misinterpreting the verdict of the voters whose only concern is to get an early reprieve from anarchy.

Poll-1998 is sure to be a watershed for this nation at the crossroads. Kumaramangalm’s courage to make bold and call the secular bluff off is only reflective of the nation’s resolve to shed hypocrisy. The message of his coup is loud and clear. It is now upto the voters to take the cue.

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Jawahar T R