The Congress could really do with a vacation in the hills amidst Shimla’s bracing winter chill. It is one place where they can be certain that they did actually win. Perhaps like the erstwhile British rulers of India, they can see themselves chugging up the picturesque route in the lovely little toy train to contemplate victory and defeat, and the meaning of life. In a collective gathering of the Congress leadership, some would perhaps argue that the fact that Narendra Modi could not really increase his tally in Gujarat was actually an achievement. Others may reflect on the importance of strong state leaders such as old warhorse Virbhadra Singh, who certainly had a role in scripting the party’s return to power in Himachal Pradesh.
But the real issue the Congress would never address is the vexing question of Rahul Gandhi. The party’s heir apparent intriguingly picked December 20, the day of the state poll results, to visit Goa where among other engagements he addressed Youth Congress workers. Meanwhile, Arjun Modvadia, the gritty Gujarat Congress president who lost his own seat in Porbandar, faced the music and accepted defeat. “It will take time to analyse the results,” he told Outlook. “We were unable to get the urban votes and attract the new voters. I failed, accepted the failure and responsibility and resigned.” He also defended Rahul: “It’s not that Rahul’s charisma is less although the high turnout of youth shows they voted for Modi. Rahul was not contesting from any seat and let’s not mix state-level politics with the national.” i&b minister Manish Tewari said the Congress won in all places where Rahul campaigned.
Porbandar is the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, whose name Rahul invoked during one of his appearances at the tail-end of each phase of polling. “If I have any guru in politics, it’s Gandhiji,” he had said at a rally in Jamnagar where he made his first appearance. “Gandhiji had one simple rule that the voice of not only every Indian but every person in the world should be heard...”
The real lesson Rahul could learn from Gandhi, though, is never to give up fighting for something you believe in even if you seem to have lost the battle. In the face of terrible riots in Calcutta, Gandhi fasted in terribly divided neighbourhoods. He never accepted Partition either and was shot dead before he embarked on a journey to Pakistan. All that remains of Gandhi in today’s Gujarat is the plush state-of-the-art complex and auditorium Modi has built and named the Mahatma mandir.
As for the Congress, it seems to have outsourced the fight in various segments of the state to Keshubhai Patel’s GPP that was propelled by disgruntled VHP/RSS/BJP members, many of them complicit in the 2002 riots. So, as the campaign progressed, Gujarat faced a bizarre reality: secular activists and the VHP found themselves on the same side in the fight against Modi! Since the Congress had decided it was tactically better for the national leaders not to name Modi and for the party not to appear “too secular”, they completely lost sight of the larger questions of convictions, morality and ideology in Gujarat.
Had they done so, they would still have been defeated in the state and perhaps even fared worse than before, but could have told the rest of India that they fought a proud battle. All one heard instead was how clever this campaign was, how it was actually a strategy—the possibility of Modi moving to the Centre would in the long term help the Congress across India as minorities would rally behind it. However, nothing defeats like failure. This sort of fight has never really worked against Modi. This election had presented the Congress with an opportunity to at least reinforce some values and showcase the leadership we are told will lead India into the future. There is some good news from the hills, but come mid-January and the Congress leadership gathers in Jaipur to possibly address or ignore troubling questions.
Apropos Is the Heir Really Apparent?, Rahul Gandhi is an heir by default just as Manmohan is our PM by default.
K. Sundaram, Bangalore
Perhaps the Congress should consider an ‘heir’ transplant.
The moment Congress ousts Saint Sonia, Rahul baba, Priyanka Vadra and business broker Robert Vadra, it will find its Lal Bahadur Shastri or Narasimha Rao, and its rightful place in the polity.
Over the years, the Congress has promoted family-based politics, which example is followed by the entire spectrum of the ‘Congress parivar’, from the dmk to the SP.
Bahu Virupaksha, Pondicherry
I am sure the Congress had Rahul campaign only in those constituencies in Gujarat in which it was sure of a win, so it could brag about it later.
Pankaj Jethi, Jagadhri
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
I'm just loving this Dynasty Dilemma. Neither it can be seen giving up on Pappu, nor it has time & hope to bring in another.
Hari >> Doctor's Advice : The Congress probably requires a "Heir" Transplant.
My Advice : The Congress party needs an amputation. The DYNASTY is the gangrene infected limb that will destroy this political party. Immediately expel Saint Sonia and her family members from the party and rescue the party.
If not, the entire body will get infected and one day CONGRESS will die a horrid death and in that process make the entire nation ill too.
Outlook must join Diiggy singh as mentor for Rahul...as of now he as shukracharya is doing his bit....perhaps your magazine fits the bill....perhaps Vinod mehta must be seconded as advisor to Rahul baba!
I'm very sure that congress campaigned Rahul only in the constituencies in which they were sure of a win. So they can brag about it later.
Is he the heir apparent?. Before I answer that question i want you to answer my question.
Can qualities like leadership be inherited form parent to a child? If the answer is "No", then he is "Not the heir apparent".
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