In Search of a Redeemer

bharat jodo yatra

The social chaos and political churn in contemporary India cannot be redeemed by conventional politics.The BJP- RSS duo in tandem has caused so much havoc and confounded to such an extent our normal ideas of state,society, culture, and politics,that it requires a leader with exceptional creative energy and insight as well as vigour to be able to put things again back on their feet.Rahul Gandhi alone seems to fit the bill to some extent.While spending years in the wilderness toiling for a foothold in practical politics,the subject of contemptuous jeers by journalists and helpless sympathy of befuddled loyalists,he had hit upon the idea of a Bharat Jodo Yatra of 4000 kms,to listen to multitudes who have lost their voice in the relentless joint campaign of corporate and communal Goliaths.It was an electrifying moment,when the whole country awoke from apathy to witness a first ever free and frank dialogue between the devastated citizenry and a sensitive sympathetic leader.That was way beyond the usual slogan-bound,mechanical rituals or the false,partial one-sided monologues that political communication has come to mean in our time.That has catapulted Rahul Gandhi into a position that even Modi with his electronic charisma cannot match.One only hopes that Rahul does not fritter away this moral advantage,this pure trust of the people by frittering it away with ritual photo-ops among various sections of the poor and the toilers.What he had done during the Bharat Jodo Yatra had been a very different kind of politics.

Years ago, soon after the catastrophic debacle of the 2019 elections, I had hazarded a friendly suggestion to leaders of INC like Rahul who were restive against the old style of politics so dearly loved by its Old Guard: the photo-op sessions like visiting temples,offering Puja to Hindu deities,chatting with Muslim clerics and so on.They had swallowed hook line and sinker the BJP formula that religion was the most effective means of reaching out to voters.Bread and butter issues were ignored.Since Congress workers are by nature secular they failed signally to arouse people with religious fanaticism,however hard they tried.So they fell behind the BJP in garnering votes.Also the leadership had over the decades lost their asset,their awareness of the fundamental livelihood issues of the people.It was imperative to restore contact with the masses on such issues,and share their anxieties.Of course there is no evidence that they would care to listen to advice from mavericks of the media like us.

But somehow he or they eventually got around to the same conclusion,and the result had been the Bharat Jodo Yatra
which revived the Congress and electrified the nation.People from all walks of life facing different hard struggles spontaneously came out and joined the March simply to share their problems with a leader willing to talk to them as an equal.Rahul listened to their stories of toil and travail with sympathy and answered their questions sensibly.As a result his stature and image improved considerably.He had two simple messages to them all.He showed he was eager to grasp their problems and he persuaded them he had taken it as his mission to spread love and banish hate from our public life.In the present feverish atmosphere which tends to scorch all of us, that came down as a welcome shower of rains.For leaders of the state seemed to be dismally unaware of it. So far,so good.But one feels uneasy that this humane common touch seems to be slipping and meaningless photo-ops that masquerade as the real intimacy with the people might fritter away the goodwill and trust earned during the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

There are many more challenging and vital issues among the people clamoring for serious and sustained attention from a friend of the people.The root of most such problems as plague the people,here as elsewhare is the neo-liberal order put in place by the forums of giant monopoly capital,highly con centrated,financialized,global, volatile,the trio of WORLD BANK,IMF and WTO.And how will Rahul and young hopefuls of INC negotiate these challenges if he INC and its allies ever come to power?

Since most institutions safeguarding the integrity of political processes have been compromised and now packed with yes-men of the government,there is little likelihood of their providing protection to the movements for rescue of democracy.The only solid wall of defence against illegal invasive attacks on the parties uniting to rescue democracy is the active support of the masses,who will not hesitate to come out into the streets if the situation turns critical.Hence the strategy adopted by the emerging leader of the pro-democracy movement must expand from mere tactics to attract votes to a lasting campaign to mobilize the people for the long-term aim of securing their active and enduring support.

The rationale for this strategy becomes plain if we look ahead to elections.If these parties succeed in winning them and forming a government,it will be in danger from day one from facing obstacles from the pliant stooges in the debased institutions,the numerous popular religio-social organizations on the ground espousing Hindutva,and hostile media on the ground.Overshadowing them all and sponsoring them, there will be the combined giant corporates who had a field day during the BJP regime and would not be happy if their ruthless march over prostrate bodies of helpless masses gets questioned and halted.Innovation is not a factor in their imminent hunt for bounteous profit. JAL,JANGHAL and JAMEEN three prized assets of the beleaguered people are going to be fair game for monopoly capital keen to invest in water-supply,power generation,mines in forested and mountainous regions,and land for agri-business.And it will immediately and grossly hurt the interests of rural working people,the Adivasis and farmers including subsistence farmers.Besides if the new government of INDIA coalition allows the imminent blitzkrieg on people’s livelihood the grievous loss of trust will make it so much easier for the enemy to seize back control of the state.So the sentimental idea of a civil and gentle arrival at a settlement between antagonistic interests is nothing better than a pipe-dream and pro-demoracy forces must be prepared for the harsh demands of a real struggle for democracy.

Likewise the well-organized entrenched enemies of secularism and the Constitution will have to be tackled with a firm hand and disarmed of their street support and weaponry. In brief it will far exceed and extend far beyond the scope of electoral battles.And capable people must be employed to think ahead and devise methods for such eventualities.As Machiavelli had proclaimed ages ago, in a world that had lost its innocence the political leader must be gifted with the prowess of the lion as well as the cunning and subtlety of the fox to seize and hold power.

Hiren Gohain is a political commentator


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