Congress: A ‘so-called secular’ party fighting the battle of survival Opinions by Satyam Tiwari - March 28, 2021July 26, 2021 The Indian National Congress (INC) is India’s oldest political party, founded in 1885 by A.O. Hume. The Congress party has ruled India for 55 precious years, and many of its leaders under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi had taken part in the freedom struggle, but whoever knew that there will come a time when this grand old ‘so-called’ secular party will leave its ideology and fight the battle of survival. The BJP with the backing of RSS and its Hindutva ideology is giving tough times to INC. BJP came to power in the center in 2014 with an absolute majority of 282 seats on its own and after that, they never looked back. In 2014, the opposition parties along with the left-leaning ecosystem claimed that the victory is because of a fake Modi wave created by the ‘Godi Media’ and it won’t repeat again in 2019, but the result of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections showed the other way around. In 2019, BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi not only managed to retain its power but they had also increased their vote share and returned back to Lok Sabha with an even bigger majority. BJP is still the first choice for many people, and the reason is its ideology, unlike Congress who fears to talk about it, the leaders of BJP wear nationalism on their sleeves and they never hesitate to talk about Hinduism and Hindutva. There are many instances when PM Modi himself took part in Hindu religious procession and rituals. He proudly laid the foundation stone of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, took holy dip in Sangam during Kumbh, performed Ganga Aarti in Varanasi, and offered prayers at Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi on the occasion of Dev Deepawali. Therefore, the Hindutva is one of the biggest reasons for the unprecedented saffron surge in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The G-23 Row Congress led by former party president Rahul Gandhi and the current interim president Sonia Gandhi seems to be in deep crisis. Many senior leaders had criticized the working of the party in an open forum. A few months before, the G-23 which is the group of 23 senior leaders and Congress veterans headed by the party president wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi suggesting a complete overhaul of the party. The letter was written with good intentions, but it got leaked out in the media and resulted in a major controversy within the INC. The war of words was started after this letter row, few members took the side of G23 and others started trolling them. Senior Congress leader and former Lok Sabha MP from Supaul, Bihar said that some leaders are criticizing the party just to get a Rajya Sabha seat. She further added that the behavior of some party leader months before assembly elections in 5 states seems like a conspiracy The matter became more tensed when Kapil Sibal came to know about Rahul Gandhi’s reported remarks at the CWC (Congress Working Committee) meeting. According to some media reports, Rahul Gandhi in CWC meeting said that the entire episode was done in collusion with BJP. After reading those media reports, Kapil Sibal tweeted that, “Rahul Gandhi says that we are colluding with BJP. Succeeded in Rajasthan High Court defending the Congress party. Defending party in Manipur to bring down the BJP government. The last 30 years have never made a statement in favor of BJP on any issue yet we are colluding with the BJP!” However, he deleted his tweet later after the clarification from Rahul Gandhi, while deleting his earlier tweet, Mr. Sibal said, “Was informed by the Rahul Gandhi personally that he never said what was attributed to him. I, therefore, withdraw my tweet.” Why Congress party is ‘so-called’ secular? For pre or post-election alliance, what do you think is necessary?Ideology?!Well, this can be an answer for many of us.But, what about a ‘so-called’ secular Congress party fighting the ‘battle of survival? For them, Is power more important than ideology? Looking at the current Congress party, one can definitely say that power is more important than ideology. “Ideology can be compromised but power can’t.” This seems to be the new slogan of the Congress party. From far-right minded political parties like Shiv Sena (Mumbai) to far-left political parties like CPI(M), the Congress has not left any chance to form an alliance to compete with the Hindutva forces but, all the efforts of Congress went in vain. In many states, Congress became the reason for the loss of Gathbandhan. If we take the example of UP and Bihar Assembly Elections, the below-par performance of Congress and lack of enthusiasm among party leaders during the election campaigns was one of the main reasons for the loss of alliances. In Bihar, the Congress won just 19 seats out of the 70 and in UP, it just won 7 seats out of 105 it contested. In recent election campaigns, PM Modi also took a dig at Congress ideology. He attacked Congress over its tie-up with different regional parties of different ideologies. PM said that the Congress party doesn’t have any ideology of their own and can join hands with anyone for the sake of power. The analysis by PM Modi is so true because, in Kerala, the congress-led UDF is opposing the CPI-M government but in West Bengal, the party made an alliance with them. In Maharashtra, the Congress is supporting the government with Hindutva ideology but in Assam and West Bengal, they made a pre-election alliance with AIUDF and ISF. The harsh reality of our country is that most of us vote on the basis of religion, BJP got its way with majoritarianism but congress is still confused about whether to take a majoritarian path or the path of appeasement or just being secular. Muslims comprise 14 percent of India’s population as per the census of 2011 and were considered as the major vote bank of Congress, but the recent remarks from few Congress leaders in the pressure of BJP’s Hindutva agenda have divided Muslim votes among different regional political parties. The Congress is so confused that on even days they talk about Hindu majoritarianism and growing intolerance in the country and on the odd days, they take credit for the Ram Janm-Bhoomi temple construction. The big question is whether the Congress party will be able to get success through this kind of ‘so-called’ secular politics or they need to change their political strategy. Looking at the results and vote shares in different elections, I can definitely say that the party leadership needs to think about it.