Rethinking Political Options

Rethinking Political Options Gurpreet Mahajan Sarah Joseph The issue of forging areas of agreement is a pressing one in our fragmented society. But any new consensus would have to consider the demands of groups and interests which are being marginalised by the process of development. A centrist ideological consensus along the Nehruvian lines is not an option available to us any longer. Nor can it offer a possible solution to the problems facing the country GIVEN the prominent role which the Congress Party has played in Indian politics, as well as the special charisma attached to the Nehru/Gandhi family, the death of a Congress leader belonging to that family has always raised complex fears and hopes in the minds of people in India. Fears regarding the possible break-up of the Congress Party, about the possible disintegration of the country, the possibility of economic collapse and political disorder were voiced when Nehru died as much as when Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi died. Nehru's death was seen as a cataclysmic event for the country by both Indian and foreign commentators. Indira Gandhi's death also aroused fears about the future of the country and simitar fears are being expressed today. The death of major leaders has also, however, raised hopes that the shock would force the Congress to put its house in order, restore a more democratic style of functioning, rebuild a national consensus around progressive policies and programmes and guide the country out of its problems.

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