ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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What Should the Congress Do?

The piece by Pushparaj V Deshpande on “Recreating the Congress Movement” (EPW, 9 August 2014) made for interesting reading. The author seems to be suggesting that the Congress Party reconnect with the people through spiritual and constructive activity, much like the Hindu organisations but without their “right-wing” ideology. He characterises M K Gandhi’s positioning himself inside the Hindu mainstream and reinterpreting and using these concepts through the philosophy of ahimsa and universal love as making his politics “non-competitive and consensual”. The author suggests that the Congress rebuild this spiritual part of its legacy in order to reconnect with “the people”.

While this advice is well-meant, I feel that the country today is looking for a more forward-looking leadership and ideology. While Gandhi’s outlook was essentially, and viscerally, anti-statist and even anarchist (albeit a softer, “ordered” version of it), the youth today are looking at the state-led success stories of southeast Asia and China, and wondering what is keeping us from realising our potential within the country despite all our hard work and talent. Gandhi’s philosophy, while admirable for strengthening the civil disobedience movement that hastened the British exit, did elicit much exasperation in his own time because he appeared to be ignoring or glossing over the realities of caste, religion and other fissures in the subcontinent. The Modi campaign has, on the other hand, given the youth a more constructive, pragmatic programme and promise, and we will have to see how far it can be turned into results in the next five years.

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