How Congress Party Is Crucial For Healthy Democracy
India cannot function without Congress. What it stands for and the space it occupies is critical to the nation’s survival and growth.
The party’s shrinking voter base has been most visible in the nation’s capital, where, even after 15 years of mainly effective rule at the turn of the century, the party’s support has fallen from 40.31 percent in 2008 to 4.36 percent in 2020.
In a number of states—a number that appears to grow with each election—Congress has ceased to be a serious contender for power: Tamil Nadu, UP, West Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha are the most notable examples of states in which the party has been out of control for so long that it is no longer taken seriously.
A party is defined primarily by its values, principles, and convictions, as well as the policies it implements to carry them out. A party, however, is also an organisational platform for those ideologies, and this is where Congress has fallen short.
Some have claimed that ideological uncertainty is to blame for failures that are clearly due to organizational flaws.
Congress’s central core values which have made it what it is are:
Secularism, one of the fundamental values ingrained in Congress’ DNA, dates back to the foundation of the Republic. Congress worked hard to avoid Partition before finally giving in to the inevitable. Still, once it happened, the party never acknowledged the logic that because Pakistan was ostensibly created for India’s Muslims, what remained was a Hindu state.
Jawaharlal Nehru, his colleagues, and successors upheld his life – long belief that India belonged to all who had made a significant contribution to its historical past and culture and civilization and that the majority of the population had a special duty to safeguard the rights and promote the well-being of India’s minorities.
In both government decisions and personal practice, Congress stood for an India that included people of every religion, caste, ethnicity, and nationality.
The differences with the BJP are stark. They want to empower Muslims, not isolate them in ghettos. Give the Muslim candidates election tickets; the BJP is the first party in power in independent India’s history not to have an elected Muslim MP in Lok Sabha.
In its second term, it failed to correct this questionable distinction. The BJP’s supporters incite anti-minority violence in order to increase political polarisation; we seek to put out the fires, not to justify the rage. Rather than dismissing the economic condition of minorities, we strive to improve it.
This approach, perhaps highly debatable and labelled as “secularism,” is being called into question today in an attempt to define nationalism in more sectarian terms.
The architects of the ruling party are hampered by a lack of vision and a lack of large-heartedness, which prevents them from seeing the larger concept that India has always identified for the world as a whole.
However, most patriotic Indians would strongly oppose any attempt to equate India to a Hindu version of Pakistan.
That would be a betrayal of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, who sacrificed his own life for Hindu-Muslim unity, as well as the essential nature of what it means to be Indian.
Congress must be the backbone of the imagination of India that it helped to establish in the crucible of the Republic’s birth.
In regards to economics, there’s no doubt that the country has come a long way since the glory days of Nehruvian socialism. Beginning with the Congress government’s reform Budget of 1991, which helped usher in the era of liberalization and transformation, it has been witnessing convulsive changes.
Today, it is fashionable to criticize Nehruvian socialism as an ineffective and corrupt system that admonished India to several years of slow growth. It cannot be denied, as Nehru’s grandson stated three and a half decades ago, that the socialist model as practiced in India evolved many flaws over time.
But at the heart of Nehru’s socialism was his conviction that government policy must priorities the welfare of the poorest and most marginalized members of our society in a land of excessive poverty and inequality.
In his day, the best way to do so was to establish edifices of publicly owned and state control of the country’s resources and strengthen the nation’s economic potential through government intervention.
PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh, two Congress prime ministers, are well-known for liberalizing our country’s economy and creating many new opportunities for our young people to succeed in a globalizing world.
Rajiv Gandhi’s technological and telecom revolutions, Narasimha Rao’s courageous economic reforms, and Manmohan Singh steering India’s globalizing policies while shielding India from the devastation of the 2008 global recession all tell their own stories.
But Congress remains deeply committed to Nehru’s concern for our society’s most vulnerable members. This is the reason they can still call themselves socialists today. Their socialism is indeed not anti-growth; rather, it seeks to ensure that the benefits of our country’s growth are distributed primarily to the poor.
It is this commitment that has allowed an updated version of India’s constitutional idea to emerge in the twenty-first century—one that has widened the scope of its democracy through innovations such as the Right to Information (RTI) Act; one that defended secularism in the face of violent threats to our nation’s diversity; one that deepened socialism through the conception of a foundation of rights, including the right to work, the right to food, and the right to education.
Thus, Congress provides the nation with a far more credible and tried-and-tested ideology than the BJP.
Between elections, it can and must do a lot to assist citizens in their conversations with authorities, local cops, and the uncaring petty bureaucracy they face on a daily basis. One must return to the ethos.
Nehru was determined to safeguard India’s independence; India was not going to jeopardise its independence by aligning itself with either Cold War superpower. In this form, his viewpoint is no longer applicable in the changing circumstances of the twenty-first century.
There are no longer two superpowers with which to be non-aligned today. The power of non-alignment, in essence, was to make sure that India was able to take its very own positions without letting others decide for it.
Congress’s vision was about strategic autonomy safeguarding India’s self-respect and autonomy against potential encroachments on its sovereignty.
Congress, since the British times, have held the concept of secular India at the forefront and its contributions to the nation and its effective Economic, Social, and Foreign policy have cemented the position of India at a global level.
A democratic country can only work when there is healthy opposition, and every ruling party should know that and protect its sanctity at all costs.