A series of high-profile scandals, disarray in State units and rising popular discontent against inflation pose a stiff challenge to the Congress celebrating its 125th anniversary. Is it the beginning of the decline of the grand old party’s dominance at the Centre? Or, can it once again belie the doomsday theory, as it has done several times in the past?
The Congress, now in its 125th year, can rightly be called the grand old party of India. But is it as grand as it pretends — or is assumed — to be? Indeed, as it is facing a series of scandals, disarray in State units and rising popular resentment against inflation, one should make an analysis of its history in the first part; and, in the second, find out how the party survived for so long.
The main label that the Congress gives itself is that it is the party which achieved the country’s independence. Well, it is hoped that one day the history of India’s freedom movement will be rewritten. For what is now taught, both in the West and in India, is often the history of the superficial, the apparent and the false. And those who have least contributed to the country’s independence, or worse who were to some extent responsible for Partition, occupy a place of honour in those books, while those who had a deeper vision and worked with dedication for a wholesome independence are in the shadow and have been waylaid by our ‘eminent’ historians.
History wants us to believe that the freedom movement began with the Indian National Congress. In reality, however, the Congress was a colonial tool fashioned by the British Empire for its use. Witness the fact that it all began in December 1885 by Englishman AO Hume, with the avowed aim to “allow all those who work for the national (read British) good to meet each other personally, to discuss and decide of the political operations to start during the year”. And certainly, till the end of the 19th century, the Congress, which regarded the British rule in India as a “divine dispensation”, was happy with criticising moderately the Government, while reaffirming its loyalty to the Crown and its faith in “liberalism” and the “British innate sense of justice”!
Thus, for a long time, the Britishers considered the Congress favourably and sought to use it to justify their continuing occupation of India. But soon, it changed into suspicion and downright hostility, as the Congress, realising is folly, turned towards constitutional agitation to obtain from British Parliament a few laws favourable to India. And the Englishmen did hand over a few crumbs here and there, such as giving Lord Satyendra Prasad Sinha the honour of becoming the first Indian to be part of the Governor’s Executive Council in 1909.
What must be understood to grasp the whole history of the Congress is that its pre-Independence leaders, Jawaharlal Nehru in particular, were anglicised, Western-educated Indians, whose idealism was at best a dose of liberalism peppered with a bit of “British Labour style” socialism. Nehru was a brilliant specimen of an old British policy of forming a minuscule Westernised elite class, cut off from its Indian roots, which would serve in the intermediary hierarchies of the British Raj and act as a go-between the master and the slaves. Thus, not only were these Congress leaders (“moderates” as they were called) partially cut-off from the reality of India, they also became one of the greatest Hindu-baiters as their minds worked on the pattern of their masters.
These Westernised moderate Congress leaders, however, found it difficult to be identified by the deeply religious Indian masses. They, therefore, encouraged the initiation of ‘reformed’ Hindu movements, such as the Arya Samaj or the Brahma Samaj, through which they could attack the old Hindu system under the guise of transforming it. This was perfectly acceptable to all Hindus, as Hinduism has always tolerated in its fold divergent movements. It is these early Congress leaders who began the slow but insidious crushing of Hindu society. For instance, the Congress Governments, which were installed after July 1937 in most of the provinces, encouraged the development of education modelled on the British system. Comments French historian Alain Danielou: “The teaching of philosophy, arts, sciences, which constituted the prestigious Indian cultural tradition, became more and more ignored and could only survive, thanks to the Brahmins, without any help whatsoever from the state.”
When a true socio-cultural-cum-political movement, which had at heart the defence of India’s real heritage, started taking shape, such as the much decried Hindu Mahasabha, which attempted to counterbalance the Muslim League’s influence, or the even more maligned Ram Rajya Parishad, initiated by Hindu monk Swamy Karpatri, they were ridiculed by the Congress, which used to amplify the problems of untouchability, castes or cow-worshipping to belittle these movements, which, after all, were only trying to change India from a greatness that was to a greatness to be.
“The Congress,” writes Danielou (who is hated by today’s French JNU-linked Indologists), “utilised to the hilt its English-speaking press to present these Hindu parties as barbaric, fanatical, ridiculous; and, the British media, in turn, took-up, as parrots, the cry of their Indian counterparts.”
To this day, nothing has changed in India: The English-speaking press still indulges in Hindu-bashing and it is faithfully copied by the Western correspondents, most of whom are ignorant of India and turn towards Indian intellectuals to fashion their opinions.
This strategy, however, was good enough to convince the British that whenever they leave the country, they would have to hand over power to the ‘respectable’ Congressmen (after all, we are all gentlemen), even though they constituted a tiny Westernised minority, whereas India’s true Hindu majority would be deprived of their rights.
The Congress did turn radical in 1942, when because of Mahatma Gandhi’s fanatical insistence on non-violence, it adopted the policy of non-cooperation towards Britain’s war efforts. Left with little choice, the British declared the Congress illegal, jailed most of its leaders and embarked on a policy of heavy repression. Therefore, the truth is that the Congressmen who were imprisoned and are deified today for that fact, went there not for India’s independence, but because Gandhi refused to cooperate in World War II against Hitler’s demonic forces.
Indian history books, written by pro-Congress Marxist historians, have completely bypassed a yogi who, as early as 1906, had asked the British to leave the country, by force if necessary, and spent one year in jail for it. His brother, Barindra Ghosh, even manufactured bombs in the basement of his house. That man was Sri Aurobindo, who re-enacted the message of the Bhagavad Gita in modern times: That sometimes it is necessary to use force when your mothers, your sisters, or your country is endangered. Sri Aurobindo, as pointed out by Peter Hees in his recent biography, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, was aware of several attempts on the lives of British magistrates and officials by Barindra and his colleagues.
Now the second question: How did the Congress survive for so long? Well mostly, the party divided the country and always banked on minority votes to stay in power. India prides itself to be the greatest democracy in the world. But, in reality, there are very few places on this planet where democracy has been so hijacked and perverted as in India. Here you have a party, the Congress, which has turned from bad to worse in the past 20 years, come a miserable last in the recent Bihar elections, and yet sprung to power by a freak accident, thanks to the absurd parliamentary system of India with proportional voting, a leftover of the British Raj!
This is how the Congress is still all-powerful at the moment, in spite of rising prices, shameful scams and internal dissensions. What has helped the party most is its policy to divide the country on caste and communal lines — a cynical approach that will be further buffered by the ongoing caste census. Democracy in India is thus hijacked by disgraceful mathematics: How to get elected with the votes of Muslims and Dalits who remain backward despite bringing to power umpteen Congress Governments since Independence.
Since 1947, the Congress has been banking on the dynasty factor. In fact, the malaise had its beginning in 1928 when Motilal Nehru (then Congress president) ensured that his son, Jawaharlal, succeeded him as Congress president. Jawaharlal Nehru continued the tradition by making Indira Gandhi the Congress president in 1959. Mrs Gandhi took the cue and first promoted Sanjay Gandhi in the 1970s, and after his death forwarded the case of Rajiv Gandhi. After Rajiv’s assassination, Sonia Gandhi took charge of the party and now Rahul Gandhi is being groomed for the Prime Minister’s job. Is it, therefore, any surprise that this family has given party presidents for 39 out of the Congress’s 125 years?
A lot has been said about why Sonia Gandhi holds such a fascination for India. The fact is that she exists because she belongs to the Nehru dynasty, and that the Congress propaganda machine has been working full swing since Independence to impress upon the minds of the people that the dynasty is akin to God and related to Mahatma Gandhi. Thus, you have a foreigner and a Christian woman, who whatever her qualities be — honesty, hard work, family values — is just an elected Member of Parliament, and yet rules like a supreme leader of this country. Do you think it would be possible for an Indian and a Hindu to become an un-elected President or Prime Minister of the US, France or Germany? Absolutely not!
Also, there is an eternal inferiority complex that a part of the Indian intelligentsia seems to be holding up towards the West. This is particularly striking among a section of the Indian media, which appears to look at the country through a Western prism and constantly worry how the foreign press views India, how the foreign countries — particularly the United States — perceive it, and what the Amnesty International has to say about it. Sonia Gandhi’s ‘fair’ skin may also bewitch Indians because of the theory of the Aryan invasion, which has divided the country, pitting the South against the North, Dravidians against Hindi, Dalits against upper castes. All these despite the fact that all the recent archeological and linguistic evidences, and satellite mappings have proved that there never was an Aryan invasion.
Will the Congress survive in the 21st century? Well, it needs to do some introspection. First, it should find genuine Indian leaders in its midst; second, it should get rid of the dynasty; and, third, the party should shun its anti-Hindu stand. The Congress will then become relevant to the country, which is gradually turning into a truly global force.
This article is taken from Pioneer, written by François Gautier, 'The shaking hand', Sunday edition