Scams, incompetent leadership, demoralized cadres and Modi– a lot of reasons have been given in order to explain the fall of Congress. Some ’eminent journalists’ are doing TV debates, advising the Congress to get rid of the Gandhis while others are busy writing articles advocating the formation of a grand alliance.
But besides all these things there is something more. A very important aspect has been willfully ignored by these analysts. The aim of this article is to highlight that particular aspect. Before beginning let me ask the reader a couple of questions to make the context clear.
Which political party are you likely to associate with Nationalism? And which party are you most likely to associate with Hinduism?
In 2017, it is quite likely of you to associate both of these terms with the BJP. However, 70 years ago, in 1947 both of these keywords would have pointed to the Congress.
Most of the Congress leaders back then were orthodox Hindus. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, C Rajagopalachari, Kriplani were orthodox and unapologetic Hindus. Even Gandhi, who is despised by the far right Hindu was himself an orthodox Hindu. In the past, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and several others were also highly conservative Hindus. Gandhi always carried the Gita with him and Rajaji wrote scholarly Hindu works. Congress was undoubtedly that party with which the Hindus were able to associate with. They liked Nehru’s face (not just metaphorically but also literally) because it provided a secular look while the party itself remained deeply religious.
That was the mighty Congress that swept all elections, crushed the opposition and ruled India. In 2017, that old Congress is gone. Those scholarly Hindus among its leadership have long been pushed out.
Can you name a single national leader of Congress who is unapologetically Hindu? How many of its leaders are practicing Hindus? How many of its leaders are trusted by the Hindus?
Today Congress is essentially comprised of urban elites who take Hindus for granted and their clueless statements keep on irritating a practicing Hindu.
On the other hand we have a leader who comes from an organisation that dreams of a Hindu Rashtra and who openly calls himself a Hindu Nationalist.
Today’s BJP is the Congress of independence era – just that it is headed by Patel and not Nehru.
In fact, majority of present day voters and supporters of BJP, including yours truly, would have surely supported Congress if they were there 70 years ago. But as of now we have moved to the BJP taking along with our symbols, lucky charms and leaders- Patel, Tilak, Rajaji etc. This is the reason why BJP is able to easily claim Patel and Malaviya as its own while the Congress fails to preserve it’s legacy.
On the other hand, Congress has been nearly wiped from everywhere that is Hindu. The momentum is so much against Congress that it simply cannot win 2019.
But, the remote chance for it to win still remains only if it is able to win back the love and support of Hindus. It has to figure out how can it become the Congress of 1947- where the leaders were unapologetically religious. Indian National Congress has to bring back that culture and hone in leaders who can connect with the Hindus and make scholarly arguments.
In fact, there is no party other than the BJP that represents the Hindus. The SP talks Muslim-Yadav, BSP talks Muslim-Dalit and Congress talks of consolidating minorities and non-religious. Communists are hypocritical- critical when it comes to Hindu practices, but accepting when it comes to non-Hindu religious practices. AAP follows nearly the same mould as that of Communists- once again talking only for non-Hindus and non-religious Hindus.
What must be mentioned here is that not all the religious Hindus are after the Bajrang Dal or Vishwa Hindu Parishad kind of Hinduism. But, they want their way of life to continue and not die with them. They don’t want to end up like other countries that are all wiped off their native religious ideas. They are sieged from all directions — from overseas media to the zealous missionaries, the Pan Islamists and bitter Ambedkarites. The feminists heap too much blame on Hinduism without looking at how relatively equal past Indian societies were. People fighting caste discrimination put all sorts of blame on Hinduism without realizing the problems that are endemic to all of India and spanning all religions.
For an ordinary Hindu, all she wants is go to the Hanuman temple and pray the lord for strength. She doesn’t want to be humiliated as she goes about with her faith. She is not the one who created all these problems, she is not the one to be ashamed of her faith and she is not the only one who needs to be accountable for this.
There are not many allies for these Hindus. This is the segment that has felt disenfranchised for a long time as Nehru’s descendants slowly took the party away from its core Hindu base. Until Congress can connect and talk to this base that is often cornered and afraid, its chances will continue to be grim.
धर्मो रक्षति रक्षित:
The Dharma protects when it is protected.