Over the weekend, prime minister Modi gave two television interviews. They were watched keenly by supporters and haters alike, because the prime minister hardly interacts with the mainstream media. And as usual, the prime minister made full use of both the opportunities, and reminded the country that the top job was in the best hands possible.
Prime minister Modi came across as optimistic and reassuring. But more importantly, he came across as a statesman who transcends the country’s political discourse, as a figure who rises above India’s political class despite being its most important element. One such statement he made during the interview with Times Now was particularly interesting.
When asked about his Congress Mukt Bharat initiative, PM Modi answered that he wasn’t attempting to finish the Congress Party but the mentality which characterizes the Congress Party. He added that several political parties were plagued with the Congress mentality, that this is what gave the Indian political class a bad name, and that each one of these outfits including the Congress Party should work towards ridding themselves of the Congress mentality.
However statesmanlike such a statement may be, prime minister Modi isn’t naïve. Having fought the Congress Party his entire life and knowing exactly what the outfit in question is all about, it is hard to believe that the prime minister only wishes to put an end to the mentality in question and not the party. Any keen observer of Indian politics is well-aware of the fact that this party cannot be divorced from its mentality, that this party and its mentality feed each other, that the mentality in question is the party’s fundamental reality. After all, the first proponent of Congress Mukt Bharat was Mahatma Gandhi himself, being fully aware of how the party’s very existence post-independence would suck the living daylight out of India.
The case for ridding the country of the Congress Party is a straightforward one. But what is really meant by the Congress mentality? Many would characterize it as corruption, dynastic politics, minority appeasement, politics of caste, or standing up for forces which seek to break the country. They would be right and wrong. These are by-products. Go through independent India’s history and try to find one issue on which the party has been consistent. Soon, one realizes that it is an operation which seeks to ruthlessly hold on to power using any means possible, and that is the only ideology or mentality that is consistent in the last seven decades.
Every political outfit stands for something. If it’s not ideology, at least they represent a caste, religion or ethnicity. The Congress Party is a curious case, for you find nothing at all. At best, apart from the defining characteristic of a ruthless quest for power, one can categorize it as a family business. Indeed, Rahul Gandhi’s recent elevation to its presidency once again reaffirms that credential. But apart from that, for seventy years, it has simply been a vehicle for adverse mentalities and elements. People who want to enrich themselves, criminals who want to legitimize themselves, ideologies and isms that are harmful for the country, have all found a home here. This is the result of throwing ideology and policy out of the window and embracing anything that allows you to hold on to power.
In many ways, six decades of Congress rule was a continuation of other empires before independence. The country was looted. India’s culture and heritage were systematically destroyed. Rot set into India’s institutions. Any quest to revive the Indian civilization, to prosper honestly, to live a life of dignity without being party to a corrupt system, was stymied. And all of it because an elite group of people, of families, had to remain at the top at all costs and prosper themselves. And so, if emergency had to be imposed, it was. If illegal immigrants had to be brought in, they were welcomed. If separatist fires had to be stoked, they were. National interest and security became laughing stocks, and one of the largest countries in the world steadily moved towards destroying itself for the momentary pleasures of some.
Even today, as the party in question sits in the opposition, the ruthless quest for power remains as strong as ever. Invariably, every major caste-based uprising can be linked to it. Its leaders meet the enemy secretly, and sometimes openly ask the enemy to help them in getting rid of the current dispensation. The party has even been blamed for attempting to destabilize the armed forces and orchestrate a rebellion within the judiciary. These allegations seem outlandish. When I said as much to somebody, he answered, “What are the armed forces and the judiciary for them? Their ancestors split India into three parts just to be in power.”
So dear prime minister Modi, the party is an embodiment of the mentality you speak about. If there is no mentality, there will be no party. Never forget how they treated you, how they attempted to destroy you, how they attacked your loved ones. Your intention to go after the mentality and not the party, though a very noble one, is incomplete.
If you are the savior that India believes you to be, you will make the party disappear along with the mentality. If you leave any scope whatsoever for the cancer to strike back, all your efforts in various domains would amount to nothing in the long run.