Two visiting Indian professors, Summit Ganguly and Dinsha Mistree, lecturing at the Hoover Institution in California, have caught the intellectual world by surprise. Their theme is that the great Indian Congress Party, which won 52 seats in the Lokh Saba in 2019 out of 542 was breathing its last breadth. “To put it bluntly, the party that ushered in India’s independence now appears to be in terminal decline.”
The decline of India’s Congress Party seems to follow that of South Africa’s Congress as well as that of Zanu PF in our own country.
This is the party of the great Mohondas K Gandhi, Jawarharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi (Nehru’s daughter). As I followed their arguments, the more I was alarmed, as they seemed to be describing a situation, I am very familiar with in my home country, Zimbabwe.
Congress, they argue, has been unable to depersonalise its leadership from the ruling family, the Gandhis. Since India’s independence in 1947, the Gandhi family has overseen the party in one form or another. In 2020, after losing an election, 23 senior party leaders have expressed their discontent in a letter to the Sonia Gandhi, an Italian woman wife of the late Ranjiv Gandhi and now president of Congress.
The accusation is that the Gandhi family refuses “to consult with party stalwarts on major decisions while empowering a group of inexperienced sycophants to run the party.” The words “stalwarts and sycophants” are in the original. The accusation further says that previously the older Nehru had “natured the party’s grassroots, encouraged dissenting views, and held periodic elections for party positions.”
Power is now centralised in Dehli and a small group of self-perpetuating sycophantic advisors who have no tolerance for dissenting views. The party receives orders from above. “This,” the professors argue, “led to the resignations of several senior leaders of the party, many of whom formed their own regional parties.”
The Indian Congress which started as a socialist Marxist party has been overtaken by time itself as that ideology and practice were found inadequate in the Soviet Union and in China. Espousing to be a secular party, then Indian Congress provided little comfort to the poor who have found solace in the semi-religious Baratiya Janata Party.
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If the Congress Party was as dysfunctional and unresponsive to the needs of native peoples of India, one wonders how it kept itself in power from 1947 to 2004.
The Dharma Dispatch says that in fact the IC was hated by the majority, was a fake party, saying one thing and doing another and that rather than lift the oppressive tools used by the British, it intensified them.
Just eight months into independence, the freedom fighters and reformers transformed themselves into traders in treachery and merchants of patriotism occupying high ministerial births.
“Suddenly, these opportunistic ministers who had never eaten two square meals a day now began grabbing everything in sight, their illicit acquisitions limited only by the limitations of their skullduggeries than a decade ago, they travelled by foot or tram. Now they were travelling in fancy Buicks, Packard’s, and Cadillacs. Some changed cars five times a year. Import laws were stringent…only these patriotic Congress ministers could magically import them at controlled prices. Congressmen …also made a killing. (They) bought these American cars at controlled prices, keep them for some time and then sell them in the secondhand market at double the price…all in R100 notes cash.”
Those Congressmen involved in these schemes also evaded taxes, nevertheless, they were “feted and honoured as patriots.”
This revelation came as a shock to me. Before, I went to Zimbabwe, I had never seen a Lamborghini in my life. I was appraised to the fact that Gokwe representative brother Justice Wadyajena, was able to import one and even more surprising that he can drive it through the humps and potholes of Gokwe-Nembudziya badlands.
If I were to list my discoveries, which the Indians say have just been released by their National Archives, there would be no end to the story. Just one year into independence, the Indian Congress stalwarts concocted a scholastic scheme which provided special admission privileges to educational institutions for students who had taken part in various political movements of the Congress Party only.
This reminded me of the Fort Hare bursaries, which benefitted only those learners whose parents were politically connected.
Evidence now available to the public about how Congress kept power is shocking. “Congress Party won consecutive elections by sheer intimidation, through police action.” The fate of non-Congress workers and leaders in jailhouses was nightmarish. Congress did not get rid of British oppression. The ordinances, acts and regulations of the British have all been made into law and they are far more stringently enforced than the British ever dared. (Source, Masharuwala)
By 2004, Baratiya Janata Party’s message to the Indian people was sharp. A Hindu semi religious party, the BJP argued that the godless Congress Party had created a new religious shrine around the Gandhi family. Moreover, it was obvious by then that the children of Congressmen had been privileged to study abroad in Britain and the US. Even at home, learners with a Congress pedigree had easier access to medical schools.
The newsmen who once challenged the British at every turn had been captured and were now looking to New Delhi for orders. Corruption, nepotism, and graft were on the increase to the advantage of those politically connected. Assuming that the judiciary was captured, “all the utterances and promises made in the last (70 years) remain merely utterances.”
As we speak the BJP has 303 members in the Lokh Sabha out of 542 elected members.
Kenneth Mufuka is a Zimbabwean patriot. He writes from the US. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org