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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 14 New Delhi March 24, 2018

Sign of Strength, Comprehension, Vision

Friday 23 March 2018, by SC



That the ruling NDA coalition at the Centre, led by the BJP under the supervision of Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo, is on the defensive is clearly manifest in not just the last bypoll results in UP and Bihar but also in the manner in which it has overreacted to the speeches—mainly of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and erstwhile head of the party Sonia Gandhi—at the latest 84th plenary session of the principal Opposition party in New Delhi. Without replying to the basic issues raised by Rahul in particular, the BJP spokes-person Nirmala Sitharaman, the present Defence Minister, could only quip that Rahul’s allegations reflected the “rhetoric of a loser, devoid of substance”. What Rahul had said was that “while the Kauravas (BJP-RSS) were hell-bent on fighting for power, the Pandavas (Congress) would fight for the truth”.

Rahul’s speech was also replete with a self-critical approach—openly conceding the streak of “arro-gance” in the Congress that alienated itself from the people at large towards the end of UPA-II culminating in its 2014 electoral defeat; and Sonia Gandhi herself recounted the Shimla conference of the party in 2003 where it was decided to seek electoral allies jettisoning the idea of going alone in the battle agreed upon on the basis of the discussions at the Panchmarhi brain-storming session in 1997. The contrast between the two strategies was quite sharp and revealing, to say the least.

In fact, as The Asian Age aptly noted: “The message that gains salience in the immediate political context of the preparations for the next Lok Sabha election is that the party will adopt a ‘practical’ approach to facilitate the coming together of ‘like-minded parties’, which means sharpening the ability to strike working arrangements with any party ranged against the ruling BJP.” Yet the publication hastened to underline: “This won’t be easy, given that many regional ‘secular’ parties remain wary of the Congress...“ but in the same breath it did not fail to add a vital point: “...the party (Congress) is conscious that its future advance will be thwarted if the BJP is not defeated.”

This particular sentence assumes special impor-tance against the backdrop of the regional parties’ moves for a non-Congress, non-BJP Federal Front.

Such an endeavour, if not nipped in the bud, could inevitably lead to a split in the anti-BJP votes and thereby in turn help the present ruling dispensation at the Centre which has given the country and its people the worst Union Government since our independence seventyone years ago.

It is against such a difficult background that the Congress has shown extraordinary maturity by pleading for the widest possible secular-democratic unity. This should not be misconstrued as a sign of weakness; rather it is an undisputed sign of strength, comprehension and vision which needs to be lauded without any trace of ambiguity by all secular-democrats anxious about the future of this country and keen to rescue it from the vice-like grip of those currently in power.

March 22 S.C.   

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