In its long and tortuous history, the Indian National Congress has faced many trials and tribulations. But never before has the image of the 127-year-old political entity been subject to such public ridicule. Indeed, as it gets flung back and forth virtually every other day from controversy to controversy, even otherwise thick-skinned Congressmen are squirming at the unending downpour of muck drowning their party.
Last Friday evening, flipping through the four main English television channels was revealing. On display was the astonishing variety of the Congress’s current woes. In a two-hour exclusive, NDTV offered viewers graphic details of the vast amounts of money paid out by a private steel firm to a certain “VBS”, implicating veteran leader Virbhadra Singh, the party’s spearhead in next month’s assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh. Times Now, meanwhile, was alternating between a Haryana Congress leader’s absurd remark that 90 per cent of raped women in the state had asked for it, and the antics of a gun-brandishing Congress MP in Gujarat. Headlines Today focused on its own sting operation exposing the shenanigans of Union law minister Salman Khursid’s charity trust for the handicapped. Even CNN-IBN offered no respite—it had just unearthed some fresh dope on the dubious real estate deals of Robert Vadra!
Much worse is the hostility towards the Congress on social media platforms like Twitter. The choicest invective, often in poor taste, is hurled at members of the Gandhi family, the PM and his ministers, along with Congress leaders and spokespersons. On the other hand, it has also inspired some brilliant satire in web magazines like Unreal Times, which almost daily brings out rollicking spoofs on the Gandhis and Congress luminaries. These, in turn, are relayed in a flash on Twitter and Facebook.
The print media has been less explicit in their critique, but brought no real relief. There has been the unholy sight of a senior cabinet minister almost coming to blows with reporters of the India Today group, abusing its chairman and filing defamation suits worth several hundred crores, that would ensure the antagonism of at least one major media outfit to the ruling dispensation. Moreover, even staid and sober dailies like The Hindu have chosen to take the lead in publishing fresh follow-ups to the Khurshid trust scandal and about attempts by the Haryana government to scuttle investigations into Robert Vadra’s land deals.
Congress leaders privately lament that the party did not have to fight on so many fronts even during the stormy days that led to the Emergency crackdown in the mid-’70s, or the political turbulence that accompanied the Bofors scam in the late 1980s. One big difference is that there were no 24/7 news channels to hound the government then. Nor was there cyberspace to vent anger for the urban middle class, which itself has burgeoned to a more vociferous, demanding group. A more crucial difference may well lie in the comfortable majority held by the Congress when it faced similar challenges in the past, compared to the vulnerable minority government the party leads with unreliable outside support today.
Yet, there is another vital distinction from the past. On previous occasions when the Gandhis and the Congress had come under attack from the middle class, they had taken shelter behind the claimed support of a wider constituency—the poor and oppressed of India, who supposedly still believed in the party and its leadership. Even such rhetorical bluster is missing today. Instead, we have Vadra’s wisecracks about the “Mango People” and Khurshid’s tantrums about “people of the street” and “guttersnipes”, both betraying a certain elitist arrogance and disconnect from common folk that has characterised the Congress in recent years. Thus the party leadership has allowed Arvind Kejriwal not only to capitalise on middle-class disenchantment but also represent the aam aadmi.
Where does this all leave the Congress? The party leadership will be fooling itself if it seeks consolation from Kejriwal’s potshots at the BJP and other parties on corruption. Make no mistake, regardless of the maverick leader’s assertion that all political parties were greasing each other’s palms, it is the Congress which will pay the heaviest political price. There is an overwhelming public perception today that the party—mainly because it is seen as the ancien regime that has ruled the country for decades and for its present long stint—is the mother of all corruption.
It remains to be seen how long a regime can rule after being so visibly stripped of credibility among the middle-class intelligentsia, and without the buffer of a wider support base. Perhaps it may be better for all concerned that the denouement comes sooner rather than later.
(Ajoy Bose is the author of Behenji: A Political Biography of Mayawati)
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.
Indian national congress broke into two divisions
Congress(O) and Congress (I) in seventees. many a leader
Including Pranab Mukerji floated seperate party only to return back.
How Ajoy bose left all positive things about the Congress
that came back to rule after 'Janata wave". Sorry,you seem to be biased
Aah, the ever growing hydra called the news media. All along, there has been the equivalence of the emergency period, the 1996 electoral defeat and plenty other imaginative armageddon scenarios that any average writer could throw in. Mr. Bose is no exception and we have seen much worse. At the end of the day, there are those who need a change in the center and those who like to stay put and it does appear that the numbers are unfavorable to the former. Change will come in 2014 for sure and we will have probably about 2 years of nautanki by the third front, ending in another defeat for the concept of western democracy as we like to interpret it. But India's democracy is unique in it's own sense as we tend to work harder towards a live and let live principle.
Take any of the corruption cases of the past, it does appear that our moral underpinnings are built on very loose grounds and our cultural traits make us the ever forgiving hypocrites who will reelect the Congress or the BJP back to power in 2016. What's interesting is that every party has benifited from our corrupt state of mind.
Long live India, she has no cloths.
>>> even otherwise thick-skinned Congressmen are squirming ... it is the Congress which will pay the heaviest political price. There is an overwhelming public perception today that the party—mainly because it is seen as the ancien regime that has ruled the country for decades and for its present long stint—is the mother of all corruption.
There is a common saying: "Inke papon ka ghara ab bhar gaya hai - the pot of their sins is now full". Just like the Ravan who due to his arrogance, blight and ego could not see the folly of his ways and deeds, the GOP of India, the Congress party hijacked by Nehru and Indira (how dare it calls itself the INC) still can not see the writing on the wall. It believes that by offering sops and subsidy to illiterate poor, its quota within quoto politics and playing its phony "secular" game it will always be able to fool the people and win enough parliamentary seats to stay in power.
Well, only time will tell, but one thing is sure that once this anti-corruption wave reaches the villages, this Sonia Congress will be completely wiped out of India. And she will have to blame herself only, for she has badly misjudged India. For the last 3 years during UPA-2 she has deliberately blocked MMS govt from implementing a 2nd round of economic reforms. She herself and the coterie of her sycophants in her outfit are the main reason why the subsidies have ballooned, both the fiscal and trade deficits have spun out of control and the rupee has crashed. 2 months ago when complelled, reforms like FDI in multibrand retail, insurance, pensions and air transport were announcd by the govt, but it was too little, too late. Most importantly, institutions which are the living pulse of a democracy like India, notably the CVC, EC, JPC, PAC, CBI and CAG have been subverted and do not serve the people but the ruling party. As I read some where ... the moment for her last gamble – ultima scommessa in Italian – has arrived.
For Kejriwal and his team the moment has arrived too ... to take his crusade to the villages and seek Anna's blessing in doing so ...
So their future candidates would all know how much the election deposit is,'coz they're gonna lose it .... I'm sure @ a some booths they will even find it difficult getting a booth agent ... that's the height of their unpopularity ...
The media stubborninly refuses to believe that the female 'heart' of the CONgress is intact.
The hand in the cartoon appears intact as though nothing could ever happen to it.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT