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"Congress Has Become Isolated"

In a strong indictment of the Congress, Madhavrao Scindia lashes out against the party's inept functioning. Excerpts:

"Congress Has Become Isolated"
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Do you ever see yourself returning to the Congress?

I have no problems with the Congress. A number of my friends are in the Congress. But I don't agree with their arbitrary manner of functioning. If I ever returned, I would return to the Congress of Indiraji or Rajivji.

What's different about these elections?

The whole style has changed because of Mr Seshan, changes of which I approve. There is direct contact, not too much razzmatazz, but group discussions. In any case, people are not enamoured of any political party. The image of the politician is at an all time low. This is a time of samudramanthan. Of a churning for the nectar. It is a transitional phase where people are searching for something new.

What is the need of the hour?

There are too many rigid lines emerging on the basis of caste or religion. Every party wants to win by appealing to populist demands. There should be an all-encompassing Indian ideology based on an economic programme. The consciousness of a greater Indian entity should be emphasised.

What is the future of religious nationalism?

Fortunately, there does exist a feeling of nationalism among Indians. And religion is very important to every Indian. But Hinduism is a tolerant and humane religion and not a fanatical one. So the future of fanaticism is not likely to be too long-drawn. An economic agenda is needed. Even the BJP has realised this, they have emphasised swadeshi.

Has the Congress failed to tackle economic issues?

The reform programme should have been communicated to the people much better and in simpler terms. Party organisation has failed, the Congress Working Committee hardly ever meets. The AICC meets after long intervals. The Congress party's politics has become isolated from the grassroots. Information about liberali-sation should have been taken by the party to every village and there should have been feedback and course corrections. But this feedback has ceased and North Block has become sacrosanct.

Do you see a fragmented electorate this time?

Not completely, but certainly there is too much emphasis on caste, on being Gujjar or Lodhi or Patel. There should be someone who will stand up and say, I'm sorry, I will not talk about caste.

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