It is time India has a credible opposition- An open letter to Rahul Gandhi
Mr. Rahul Gandhi,
You and your party have received a big humiliation in 2019 General elections. Your party has been reduced to a single state of Kerala. You lost from Amethi, a seat which was your family’s citadel and you yourself were three time MP from there. You lied through your teeth, questioned constitutional institutions, tried to impeach CJI of SC and tried to stain the clean image of PM Modi with false propaganda. Your main campaign slogan ‘Chowkidar chor hain’ was outrightly rejected by the people of India.
After the election results, a similar drama is playing out in your party as after 2014 debacle. You offered to resign; your mother, sister and other ‘well-wishers’ are trying to convince you to not and sounds of rebellion are being heard among the congress party cadres. Please spare the people of this country from this drama again and again.
You need to open your eyes and see that the 2019 mandate is against the Opposition. People have discarded the opposition that was working against the interests of the country, was destructive rather than constructive and that lied multiple times on the floor of the house, forget outside of it. The way the opposition behaved in the last 5 years was just shameless to say the least. And the result is for everyone to see.
I don’t know what your ‘Darbaris’ are telling you about the results or about your future or responsibilities, the fact is this is a defeat of the opposition. It did not come about due to one Rafale lie, or one misguided slogan of ‘Chowkidar chor hai’, or lack of campaigning from senior leaders or the lack of interest in your ‘Nyay’ scheme. It was a collective combination of many factors which can be best summarized in one line ‘India has voted hoping for a new credible opposition’.
It does not matter whether you resign or not, the opposition’s behavior and conduct needs to change. People of India deserve a credible opposition which keeps the government on its toes. Indian democracy has a vacuum for Opposition to occupy and even a leader of the stature of Narendra Modi deserves a good fight from a credible and strong opposition and not the walkovers that you and your party has been giving him till now. It does not do justice to the leader of his caliber.
To fill this vacuum, you need to move away from the stupid philosophy of ‘Love and hate’ and define a new ideological framework for yourself and your party. I can see a place for a nationalist party which do not wear their religious identity on their sleeves like the BJP. But the keyword here is ‘Nationalist’. Whatever you and your party did in last 5 years – the complete opposite of that.
After Independence, your father re-invented the Congress party identity as a ‘secular, socialist’ party. Both the secularism and socialism were maligned after his death due to the acts of your and your ideology based parties. Congress itself dumped socialism in 1991 and people rejected your version of ‘secularism’ in 2014 as well as in 2019. So a complete makeover of the ideology is required within your party.
You need to position yourself and your party as a nationalist party which is more or less considers faith as a personal choice rather than for public consumption. But having an ideological base will not solve all your problems. You need to clear your stand on all the long standing issues confronting India. You need to build a political strategy to take your message to the masses and above all, you need to walk the talk.
As the wins of Supriya Sule, Gaurav Gogoi, and many others belonging to political families show that people of India are not averse to dynasty per say but they abhor ‘Entitlement’. You can belong to a privileged family but you need to put in the hard work as well. Simply asking for votes in the name of your family will just not work anymore. You can learn a lot from Jagan Reddy as his story is similar to yours, he was also hesitant to come into politics but was forced into it due to the circumstances. But he did not take it for granted even after multiple obstacles and severe opposition and worked hard to get the blessings of the people.
You need not apologize for all the mistakes your ancestors did but you need to apologize for the mistakes you have committed in last few years whether it is to form an illegitimate in Karnataka or for toeing the line of Pakistan. And remember, in politics, apology is not made through words but by actions.
This country forgave your grandmother even after the horrific emergency within a few years but that was not because she closed herself in her room after the defeat but because she chose to go back to people, even in extreme weather conditions, and seek their forgiveness. This is the reason she rose back to power again within three years once the Janata government faltered. Politics is a dynamic field and it keeps changing but what is needed is the hard work, persistence and honesty.
Your decisions in the coming days are going to decide the future of opposition in the country. If you chose to step down, Congress will most probably break up into multiple factions and it would take years for an opposition party to emerge at the national level. If you chose to continue, but do not make the wholesale changes required then the fate of 2014 and 2019 will await you in 2024. The only thing that can help is to make sure Congress remains but it should be because of the ideology and not a ‘SurName’.
If you are up for the challenge then do continue to remain the Congress President but if you are not then the best thing for you would be to leave silently and accept the fact that not every generation of your family can be ‘Indira Gandhi’ or ‘Jawahar Lal Nehru’.