A serious challenge to turn despair into hope
Vijay Darda : In the glorious history of Congress, Rahul Gandhi has the privilege of being elected as the president of the party at a young age. The critics may say that he is from the Nehru-Gandhi family, so he has been anointed. But the fact remains that every process of election has been complied with in his installation as party president. It was the long standing desire of grass root party workers that Rahul Gandhi should become the president of their party. I fully hope that he will surmount all challenges.
Rahul Gandhi is the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family and the culture and strengths of this family are ingrained in him. From Motilal Nehru to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and later Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi all have made significant contributions in empowering the country’s citizens through the party. The entire world is aware of the contribution of this family, their participation in the freedom struggle and their sacrifices for the nation. Critics should keep in mind that people are not just honoured for nothing, one does not just gain the confidence of the people without earning their trust. It is not without reason that people of the country showered their affection on Pandit Nehru or Indiraji. There was great sacrifice that went behind the earning of that trust, confidence and affection. Rahul Gandhi has now inherited that legacy and will march ahead in his own quest for the trust and confidence of the people.
Here I would like to say that you can not compare Rahul Gandhi with Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi. Generations change with time. The important point is that ingrained cultural values do not change. The culture of Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family, their reverence for democracy, the struggle against communal forces, the intent of war against poverty has always been and still exists within both the family and the party. Congress has always strived to improve the condition of farmers, tribals, workers and the weaker sections of this country. Rahul Gandhi is also equally compassionate and committed to treading the same path.
Rahul Gandhi faces a lot of challenges. There was a concerted move to malign his image. In fact, according to the Goebbelsian doctrine, a lie repeated a hundred times eventually ends up as the truth. In fact, defaming people without any basis has become an industry today. Although Rahul Gandhi's persona has proved the propaganda wrong, the times are such that communal forces, miscreants and social media can not be dismissed offhand or taken lightly. The Congress will have to fight these forces, perhaps the battles will be intense.
The serious challenge facing Rahul Gandhi is to combat the disappointment within the Congress and transform it into hope. Today we see much enthusiasm in BJP and RSS workers, but once upon a time that was the Congress workers' USP. Everybody considered it a great honour to be called a Congress worker. People also used to declare their Congress credentials with pride even at the time of forming marriage alliances. Rahul Gandhi has to restore this honour to Congress workers. Soniaji tried to keep the Congress united with her untiring efforts.
On a personal level, I have the knowledge that not everything worked out as per her wish, nevertheless she took everybody into confidence. Rahul Gandhi will also discover he will not get everything according to plan. He will also have to take everybody along.
I would like to state one more thing that in current political scenario, money dominates all activities. Even to organize a rally, contracts are issued right from hiring vehicles and collecting crowds to getting people to clap. Congress is also not untouched by this. The original worker used to take people from the locality to the meeting place, used to hoist flags and spread ideas. But now this worker is not visible anywhere. In the past people of the Seva Dal were entrusted with this task, now they are reduced to merely attending celebrations on August 15, January 26 or Congress Day in their uniforms and offer salutes.
NSUI is in bad shape. This platform to hunt for student leaders has been rendered useless. The dismal status of Youth Congress is not hidden from anyone. That is the party's very base. New leaders will rise from there. But today, money matters so much in their appointments that no one without money can hope to become Youth Congress president or Mahila Congress president. People with innate leadership qualities thus are blocked from coming forward. This situation needs to be changed. Rahul Gandhi will have to keep himself away from the army of hangers-on. Today senior leaders also complain that their messages do not reach Rahul Gandhi. In fact, he will have to become a mass leader, whose doors are open to one and all. I would like to give the example of Sharad Pawar whom even a common worker can meet directly. And yes, the reluctant attitude towards industrialists also must change. Some of these people may be wrong, not all. It is important to understand that industrialists make important contribution to the country's GDP. They are important partners in the development of the country.
Before I conclude
I congratulate Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu, because he has objected to the word "beg”, used by members while tabling documents. In my 18 years of Parliamentary tenure, I have always objected to the words in use from the colonial days such as “Your excellency”, “I beg to lay”, “Your honour” and VT (viceroy territory) on aircraft.
I had also written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and had made an appeal to remove these words. Now after the strong objection of the Vice President, I hope that such words will soon be removed from the proceedings.
Do not turn India into an arena of hatred
Vijay Darda :Had the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi imagined the kind of politics in independent India as we are seeing these days? Would Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Babasaheb Ambedkar and other top leaders ever have thought that Indian politics will get mired in caste and religion over time and pollute the entire society? Surely they would not have imagined it. They would have envisaged an India with humanity as the largest religion, and caste and religion as purely personal affair not influencing the society at all. But unfortunately, this is what is happening today. Now the seeds of hatred against each other are being sown in such a way that future looks very scary.
I am from a political family myself. For 18 years, I have been part of the parliamentary politics but for the situation that is prevailing today, I blame the political parties and their leaders directly. I am also connected to the newspaper and assess the situation closely. I have felt this and you must have also felt that as soon as the elections come, the atmosphere hots up. Things start with development and do not know when they boil down to caste and religion. There is no discussion as to the background of the candidates and what are their plans for development? What has the sitting public representative done to bring about development? There is absolutely no discussion! The discussion invariably revolves around the person’s party affiliation, which religion he belongs to and what is his caste. Even the political parties give tickets to those who have the power to garner votes in the name of caste and religion or who have the power to attract votes in their favour by virtue of their money power. Have you seen any social worker, for whom all the castes and religions are one, getting the ticket? If such a person gets a ticket then he can not win because polarisation has become the biggest weapon in politics.
Unfortunately, our politicians never think that this polarisation is affecting the society! Although people may not accept it openly, the present day reality is that our society is already being divided more on the basis of caste and religion. Leaders who won freedom for India must have hoped that caste system will weaken over time and religious fanaticism will end, but the prevailing politics itself has defied the balance. Today, caste is dominating the politics and religious fanaticism is in its prime.
I do not blame anyone for this. In my view, every political party is responsible for it. The latest example being the Assembly elections in Gujarat where the first phase of voting will be held later this week. Our colleagues from the Lokmat Media visited Gujarat and found that religious fanaticism has overshadowed the all-important issue of development. In Gujarat, such messages are circulating on the social media that I can not even mention them because they are but spreading hatred. Are the politicians not aware that such messages are being circulated? Everyone knows but there is no attempt to stop it. Rather, the politicians are slinging mud at each other no holds barred!
That Indian politics is getting so tainted is worrisome for the country. Politicians will keep coming and going, parties will come and go but democracy will weaken. Leaders must understand that those who foment hatred at the time of elections will tarnish the image of the country in the longer run. Politicians must understand that this country has never been of any one class or one religion or one caste nor will it ever be. All should understand one thing for sure that whosoever is there in this country, be Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist or Christian, it is their country. The number can be less or more but they have equal rights. Nobody can be underestimated. Actually this diversity is our power. The society here has always been inspired by the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. Our society will develop through love and affection for each other and coexistence. If our society is weak then the country will weaken. I just want to tell the politicians, please do not turn India into an arena of hatred! Secularism is our greatest strength. This strength should not diminish. And preservation of our greatest strength -- secularism -- is the biggest challenge before the new generation.
Before I conclude
The latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is extremely alarming. There is a shameful increase of 12.4% in rape incidents in the country. The three big states of the country -- Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra -- are on the top three positions. I do not understand what has happened to our society? Why are the incidents of rape on the rise? Are our values on the wane? This is a serious issue. While the laws need to be made even more stringent, the society too needs to play a proactive role in instilling values among the people.