Sub :- I'm Indira Gandhi's daughter-in-law, not scared of anyone: Sonia
Ref : - The Congress’s burden of history :
By invoking Indira’s memory, Sonia Gandhi may have indicated a will to combat. But perhaps, the Congress leadership does not realise that the history of that phase is complex and deeply problematic
By Suhas Palshikar
(Suhas Palshikar is a professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune.)
Respected family members of this great holy Nation.
Memory and history are useful tools in politics if one employs them with care and skill. As the Congress party trudges along in its weakest ever moment today, how much can it rely on history? Of course, with over a hundred years of history behind it, the party would have to make up its mind as to what slice of history it wants to go back to. This is a historic juncture for members and leaders of the Congress because they might be creating a new future for the party or simply be consigning the party to the past.
When recently, Congress president Sonia Gandhi retorted that “she was Indira’s daughter-in-law”, she was attempting to bring in both the memory and the history of the combativeness of Indira Gandhi and the outcomes of the churlish litigations the Janata regime brought against her. That reference to memory must have excited older Congress supporters momentarily. However, whether this stand would help the party survive its post-2014 crisis would still remain a big question. By invoking Indira Gandhi’s memory, Ms. Gandhi may have indicated a will to combat. But more than the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party would have to combat itself for its survival. So, the key question is whether the Indira analogy would really help it rejuvenate. Perhaps, the Congress leadership does not realise that the history of the Indira phase is complex and deeply problematic.
Problems with symbolism :
The Indira symbol is complex because along with many achievements of Indira Gandhi, both for the nation and for her party, her tenure is bound to remain controversial due to the national emergency of 1975. The Congress has mostly refused to engage with this bit of historical memory, almost as if it did not exist. Neither time nor political sagacity has been able to help the Congress evolve a response to this memory associated with Indira Gandhi. As a result, the party has often taken an ostrich-like position of not discussing the issue at all. In fact, Indira Gandhi herself — though weakly — accepted that mistake; so it should not be difficult for the party to take a more open-minded stand on that episode and rededicate itself to the basics of democratic polity. But the party has desisted from that. So long as the party does not do that, a resort to memory can pose problems for it. The lesson is that memory comes with its own baggage.
Moreover, will remembering Indira Gandhi truly enthuse its cadres today? Three decades after her assassination, Indira Gandhi remains only a hazy and distant memory — even for Congresspersons. The party has not ensured during all these years that the memory would remain alive except through vacant symbolism and liberal use of the name to adorn various establishments. Unless we assume that today’s Congress is mostly made up of elderly “workers” in their sixties, we cannot expect ordinary Congresspersons to have any real first-hand knowledge of the image called “Indira Gandhi”. One is not sure what meaning an ordinary Congressperson today would attach to the symbol of Indira Gandhi. So, here is another tricky lesson involving memory and history. For them to be tools of politics, they need to be kept continuously alive and also need to be reinterpreted — only meaningful reproduction of memory can make memory a powerful tool, else it becomes mere nostalgia.
“ Besides personalisation and probably to help concentrate power in the family, Indira Gandhi changed the nature of the Congress party’s inner dynamics. From the fairly federal party that it used to be, the Congress was converted into a deeply centralised party where regional leadership had to be completely dependent on central leadership. ”
Then, one of the most powerful and politically potent identities of Indira Gandhi relates to the slogan, “Garibi Hatao”. But she herself and her successors in particular have lived off that potential without necessarily exerting to remove poverty. The record of her own government had very little to claim on this front, and in the post-Indira period, the image and behaviour of Congresspersons scarcely produced a pro-poor impression. So, this constitutes yet another tricky issue: memory can become a measure you do not meet. Then it comes back as a boomerang. In fact, Narendra Modi effectively used this strategy of throwing back that slogan at the Congress party.
Troubled history :
Apart from being a symbol and a memory chip, the invocation of Indira Gandhi also involves history. And this history has its own share of problems. First, Indira Gandhi personalised all power — governmental power and party power structures. So, the Congress today, relying on Indira symbolism, can hardly criticise the current personalisation of power within the BJP. In fact, on this score, Indira loyalists should find more similarities between her and the present Prime Minister than any other Prime Minister from the post-Indira times.
But her personalisation of power had a related problematic dimension — the family. She very systematically infused power — and authority — in her own family. Sanjay Gandhi was the unfortunate and tragic outcome of that obsession with keeping power within the family. After his untimely and accidental death, she “encouraged” her other son to take up a political role and responsibilities. Once the logic of family power was introduced, it became almost inescapable both for the party and for the family. While Sonia Gandhi desisted from taking up a political role immediately after 1991 and also did politically well in not becoming the Prime Minister, she is still a prisoner of history both in a personal sense and in the sense that she is seen as keen on having Rahul at the helm of affairs. History becomes an imprisonment in this sense. While during all 15 years that the party governed in the last 25 years, and the government was led by persons outside the family, the party failed to take the next step of dismantling the halo of fate surrounding the family.
Besides personalisation and probably to help concentrate power in the family, Indira Gandhi changed the nature of the Congress party’s inner dynamics. From the fairly federal party that it used to be, the Congress was converted into a deeply centralised party where regional leadership had to be completely dependent on central leadership. In fact, this aspect has been a major limitation of the Congress party in the last four decades. When Indira Gandhi reduced the stature of State-level leaders, she expected the national leadership to win elections for the party in the absence of local leadership and without organisational strength. Rajiv Gandhi paid the price for this limitation when he lost elections both in 1989 and, posthumously, in 1991. On the other hand, when the towering leadership ceased to exist, the party did not have regional leaders to fill the vacuum and the 1990s thus saw the party go into disarray. In this sense, the present decay of the Congress party owes much to the history called the “Indira years” and to the inability or unwillingness of the party to redress that aspect of history. During the past decade and a half, the current leadership of the party has acted in fits and starts, at times allowing State-level leaders to emerge and at times ensuring that they are tamed or ousted.
Coalition of extremes :
Above all, such was the influence of Indira Gandhi that her contingent move of building a winning social coalition became a historical burden for the Congress. In the early 1970s she sidelined peasant proprietary castes in most States because their political claims were becoming increasingly unmanageable and elites from those caste groups were also becoming too overbearing for her taste. This compulsion gave rise to the coalition of extremes (upper castes and the minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes). However, this had a hugely problematic effect. The entire social bloc that later came to be politically constituted as the Other Backward Classes slipped out of the hands of the Congress, and the party never made any effort in the post-Indira years to bring these more numerous and politically assertive sections back to the Congress. It can only be suicidal to keep out more than a third of society. But such was the burden of Indira Gandhi’s legacy that the party never did any rethink on that front and continues to pay the price for it.
History can be useful if one is willing to dissect it dispassionately and move beyond it. The Congress has mostly refused to engage with history in this manner. Therefore, invoking the history of Indira Gandhi may not be the best of strategy for reviving the Congress.
1. Today ( 14/12/2015.) 12:27 pm: Members of the Congress, TMC and Left parties stage walkout in the Lok Sabha, protesting the exclusion of Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy from a function where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to attend as the chief guest.
2. Jaitley apprehends wash out of Winter session : Taking a dig at Congress over frequent disruptions in Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said, “Those who claim the legacy of Panditji must ask themselves the question, what kind of history are they making.”
3. Congress totally mad.
My view points
1. Congress is determined to disrupt the winter session in both houses by protesting on silly things.
2. These idiots protest on something happening in kerala in which centre is not concerned.
Thank you for reading.
Next with another topic .....