The Grand Old Fossil

Love it or hate it, but no other political party, regional or national, can match its imprint and impact, good, bad and ugly, on the nation’s polity, society and economy. The political history of India of the last hundred and twenty five years or so runs parallel to that of the Indian National Congress. Barring the last one decade, till 1996 politics in India has largely been Congress-centric, with the party as the pivot of political polarisation. Anti-congressism, for most of its current allies, was second nature, second only to pursuit of power.

Founded by a foreigner three decades after the 1857 war of Independence, INC was the first organised resistance movement against the British rule on a national scale. Even at that time, doubts were raised about the motives of A.O.Hume, with some even suspecting that the launch of INC was a ploy by the British to sabotage opposition to its rule from within. But the initial apprehensions evaporated as many nationalists eventually took over the reins, converting a token resistance into a mass movement. And its pre-eminent role in the national freedom struggle made it the automatic party of governance. Greatness was thrust on it also because it ensured there was no other claimant.

Now that’s too simplistic a narration to record a century plus saga, but the self-evident, simple truth of today is that the grand old party of Bharat is on its deathbed. It, of course, retains all the illusions of grandeur and solitary glory, debacles by the dozens notwithstanding. The Cong is now akin to the proverbial cat, eyes closed and revelling in blissful darkness. The party that reverberated in every nook and cranny of the nation is virtually non-existent in more than of half of it. It is now a regional party of no particular region. From setting the agenda, it is now a reactionary also-ran. But so what if the party has withered away? Its tough core is intact and remains insulated from all kinds of political tsunamis and quakes. For at the impregnable epicentre, protected by layers and layers of sycophantic residues, reside Sonia and Sons, beyond reproach, rain or shine. Even panchayat chiefs and petty politicians face the heat after defeats, but the Saint Superior here gets stronger after every knock, and more powerful after every ‘sacrifice’!

But death knells are nothing new to the Congress. Gandhiji famously called for its mercy killing post freedom as the party had served its purpose. Of course, G’s call might have been one of his usual pressure tactics to get something done, but this was one call Nehru and Co happily left unheeded. And N duly prospered, post G and particularly, post Patel, as the undisputed monarch of the party and the nation. Under him the party remained largely united, despite the occasional demurs and also retained its pre-freedom halo thanks to the presence of battle-scarred freedom fighters. But these very veterans who ensured the seamless continuity of the Congress’ glory post Independence too, were suddenly deemed thorns by an ambitious Indira Gandhi. They were promptly plucked out in 1969, and in my view, the Grand old party, which survived Gandhiji’s deadline, died then, with that fatal split. What we have now, Congress(I), should ideally be called Imposter Congress and its passing off as the legatee of the Congress of freedom vintage is a long standing political fraud!

Gandhi and Nehru had the party under their respective thumbs, but it passed muster because of their towering personal presence and near total control over the party agenda and organisation. And also because many other eminents were consciously dwarfed. Sycophancy in their time could slip through under the cover of freedom sentiment. But IG had no such camouflage. She knew the quality of Congmen who stuck with her — mere men of straw, only after power and pelf for sure. Sycophancy and servile obedience was there for the asking in abundance and she took the deal with diligence. So even as IG went about cementing her political position and agendas, the party was reduced to a mere footmat. And from then on, till now, it has been stamped by one dynastic ‘heel’ after another, barring the saving grace of PVN’s five years!
And even this proxy of a political party is tethering towards its nemesis.

And worse, it has taken the country down with it. If the original Congress fought for freedom, the imposter Congress has impounded all the good qualities that marked national character. And in their place, it has supplanted a slew of spurious substances. Cong’s secularism has singularly made the nation a communal cauldron. Its appeasement politics and anti-culture posturings have not just killed national pride and obliterated national identity, but have also rendered the listless populace easy targets for net-practice by terrorists. The latter know that the life of an Indian is pittance compared to the human rights of lambs like Afzal Guru, the ‘citizenship’ of Bangladeshi immigrants or the all important peace process with ISI-run Pak. But topping all these sterling disservices is the foisting of a rank foreigner as super PM, a feat that the most developed nations or advanced, liberal cultures have refrained from even attempting!

Such ideological flip flops are matched by its economic and political misadventures.While Cong’s socialism wrecked the economy, its current reform credentials are most dubious. Politically, its swings have been most immoral, though perfectly in sync with national trends. Barring the BJP, it has slept with most of its sworn enemies. Sonia’s Cong has no qualms in partnering the DMK whom it accused of helping Rajiv’s killers, a political deal that is more foul than the murder. It loathes the comrades, but loves their crutches. This champion of stability is also the most prolific destabiisr of minority governments. High command syndrome, corruption in high places, factionalism etc are all Cong’s gifts to the nation’s political lexicon. Indeed, name a political vice and the Cong would either be a pioneer or an adept practitioner.
That said, are the Karnataka polls the last nail? Aah, skeletons have a longer life than live humans! Sonia’s Cong will have little problems surviving in this soul-less political graveyard.

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Jawahar T R