Sonia passes the baton to Rahul

Rahul Gandhi has taken the baton of India’s Grand Old Party from her ailing mother at a time when not only is the Congress perceived to be in an existential crisis, .but the values and traditions built by the party over the decades from pre-Independence days seem to be in danger of being permanently discarded from the country’s political discourse. The morale of the party workers is at its lowest ebb following defeat after defeat in one election after another. Rahul has been at the receiving end of the most vicious and venomous attacks by the ruling party. Indeed, the propaganda war to run down and denigrate his entire family from Jawaharlal Nehru onwards has a strongly sadistic ring about it.
Rahul Gandhi’s main challenge will be to transform the Congress from a merely election-winning party to a real instrument of social transformation as Mahatma Gandhi and his colleagues had wanted it to be. Politics in this country has now touched its lowest depths. The basest instincts of hatred, malice, intolerance and bigotry are becoming dominant in social and political life. Unless this trend is reversed, there is the real danger of the diverse Indian polity being smashed to smithereens. More than winning elections and controlling the tools of power, the main challenge before the Congress is to restore the old ethos and values that guided our freedom movement and informed the spirit of India’s sovereign, democratic, secular, socialist Constitution.
The Congress can still be the instrument of social transformation by closely identifying itself with the masses of the people and reasserting its objective of creating an egalitarian and exploitation-free society. At this moment Rahul Gandhi should remember the ‘talisman’ that Gandhi gave: “Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny.”  Momentous words. If the Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi can rededicate itself to the service of the people in this spirit, the retailers of hatred and violence who want to divide our society into a thousand ‘narrow domestic walls’ will be rejected by the people and defeated decisively. The Congress should realize that political power is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The people will expect Rahul to go back to the party’s traditional moorings. Other things will follow.

Tuesday, 5 December, 2017