Congress must learn from its defeat

Congress must learn from its defeat

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 21 May, 2016

Parliament session after Parliament session has been less than wholly satisfactory, in large part because of the obstructive tactics indulged in by the Congress party, which, by now, is firmly in control of Rahul Gandhi and his chosen few associates. In particular, not only the passing but even the introduction of the GST has been getting postponed session to session, largely on account of obstruction by the Congress. The reality is that powerful vested interests oppose the GST as they are comfortable with a more opaque system of indirect tax collection that facilitates evasion on an industrial scale. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a pragmatist, hence his backing for the GST. It is the Congress that needs to accept the bulk of the blame for obstructing not just the GST, but in some ways the entire functioning of Parliament, and in the just concluded Assembly elections, voters have shown what they think about such tactics. The Congress has been humiliated even in its strongholds of Assam and Kerala, both of which it has lost, the first to the BJP and the other to the CPM and the CPI. Both the BJP as well as the two Communist parties will need to ensure good governance and an absence of factional infighting.

Although the BJP has wrested Assam from the Congress, it needs to remember that the cause of this is the split in Muslim votes between Badruddin Ajmal and Tarun Gogoi. By backing in large numbers a party analogous to the Muslim League in Kerala, the Muslim community ensured both the defeat of the Congress as well as the coming to power of the BJP, which rejects Nehruvian secularism in favour of the real variety, which is that equal treatment be given to every community. Hopefully, the Modi government will now move to remove such patent injustices as the exemptions given to selected communities in the UPA’s Right to Education Act. The RTE is a good idea but the sacrifice involved in its implementation should be shared across the board rather than loaded only onto those schools started by members of the Hindu community. Such discrimination is Nehruvian secularism with a vengeance, and should such anomalies continue, relations between communities will get worse and not better. It is a matter of shame that neither Nehru nor his successors found the qualities of moral courage and sense of justice to ensure that every community in India was given a level playing field to make the reforms needed to retain relevancy in the 21st century band, indeed in the previous period as well. Nehruvian secularists pander to the worst communal instincts of those from selected communities and ignore mistreatment of other communities in some parts of Bengal or Kashmir under the core principle of communalism being acceptable in some communities and only condemnable within the Hindu community. The fact is that communalism is evil and secularism, genuine secularism, is essential for progress and stability, and hopefully the Congress will glean such a lesson from its defeats in Assam and Kerala, where its policies played a key role in entire sections of society boycotting the party at the hustings. Rahul Gandhi should learn from his party’s defeats in Assam and Kerala, not to mention Tamil Nadu, so that his party looks towards the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha polls with more confidence than is the case at present.

 

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