At Sevagram in Wardha, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi washed their steel plates after lunch on Tuesday. The pictures were purposefully leaked by an insider to the media to suggest that mother and son, former and serving Congress president, were committed to the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. That, perhaps was their way to associate with Mahatma’s thrust on swachhta (cleanliness) and self-help. In politics, symbolism carries meaning, but it becomes meaningful only if such acts are followed by some plan of action, effective work on the ground and a continued adherence in life.
What concerns people at large, polity and Indian society, is the resolution officially adopted by the Congress Working Committee under chairmanship of Rahul—in the presence of Sonia, the guiding light of party—that Congress is launching a second Independence movement to oust the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, just as the Congress launched the Quit India movement against the British in 1942, under the leadership of the Mahatma.
The Congress resolution passed on Tuesday notes at the outset: “At the end of its intensive nine-day meeting at Sevagram, the CWC on 14 July, 1942, adopted the ‘Quit India’ resolution demanding immediate independence for our country... Today, a new freedom struggle is the urgent need of the hour—a massive movement to combat the forces of divisiveness and prejudice, to confront the Modi government whose politics is the politics of threat and intimidation, the politics of polarisation and divisiveness, the politics of crushing debate and dissent, the politics of imposing an artificial uniformity in a nation of extraordinary diversity, the politics of hate and vendetta, the politics of subverting all constitutional values, principles and practices, the politics of lies, deceit, fraud and subterfuge.”
The way the Congress planned their Wardha programme and drafted their resolution gives one the sense that the party wants to put their chief on same pedestal as the Mahatma and expects him to engender the same sort of mass mobilisation against Modi and the BJP as the Mahatma did against the British.
In effect, post May 2019, the Congress wants a Modi-mukt Bharat. After all the criticism it made against Modi for his 2014 poll catch phrase (Congress-mukt Bharat), the Congress leadership is attempting to treat the same path, albeit without saying it in as many words. The question: Does the Congress resolution to launch a second independence movement have the desired popular support?
So far, the people have not responded to Rahul’s angry outbursts against Modi:“Gabbar Singh”, “sainiko ke khoon ki dalali”, “Hindustan ka chowkidar chor hai”, “thug ka sardar” and so on. The last parliamentary election and state Assembly elections in in two dozen states since 2014 proved that the people have rejected the Congress chief's call and reposed their faith in Modi.
Neither the Congress resolution, nor Rahul’s speech at the meet, outlined how it would unleash a second independence movement to throw the Modi-led BJP out of power. Its resolution gave a slight hint: “The Quit India Movement launched under leadership of Mahatma Gandhi was an unprecedented, spontaneous peoples’ uprising to bring freedom for our country from colonial rule.”
Ironically, around the time Congress brass were meeting in Sevagram to lay claim to be the rightful inheritors of the Mahatma’s legacy, Modi was holding a programme of public significance: Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention where United Nations Secretary General, representatives of 50 nations and a lot of people working in this area from various parts of the country were present.
Modi marked the 149th birth anniversary of the Mahatma with the pledge that India will be clean and free from open defecation by 2 October, 2019. Modi’s Swachh Bharat programme is centered around the Mahatma's philosophy of cleanliness. To show his respect for the Mahatma, Modi personally escorted foreign dignitaries such as Chinese president XI Jinping and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to Gujarat's Sabarmati Ashram.
Congress leadership realises Modi is trying to appropriate the Mahatma's legacy, or is at the very least, trying not to allow the Congress to be the sole inheritor of his legacy. It party’s resolution said: “The CWC notes that appropriating Mahatma’s legacy may be politically expedient for some, but imbibing his principles and values in thought, word and deed is impossible for those who see in the Mahatma only electoral opportunities. One may borrow the Mahatma’s spectacles (Swachh Bharat logo) for publicity campaigns, but implementing his vision will remain unfulfilled unless his principles are followed.”
The Congress has only five to six months to turn its Wardha resolution of a “new freedom movement”into a popular resolve to throw Modi and BJP out of power. For a change, the burden of expectations will be on Rahul.
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Updated Date: Oct 03, 2018 18:41:00 IST