Janeu Congress loses in Karnataka, Mandir BJP fails to win
Chandigarh, May 15: This is perspective from Punjab.
Congress failed to retain Karnataka despite the party chief Rahul Gandhi reverting to Hindu soft line that used to characterise this party for decades till it was faced by aggressive Hindutva symbolised by the Sangh Parivar with the Bharatiya Janata party being its political front.
It was Janeu-wala Rahul Gandhi who was projected by the party and he visited as many Hindu temples as possible while campaigning in that state. Gujarat is the earlier example.
Janeu-wala Rahul reinforced the very narrative of India being a Hindu India that the Sangh Parivar propagates. The Congress chief continued with the same approach in Karnataka. This version of Rahul had been introduced much before the Karnataka polls.
Can the Congress confront bigotry and communal polarisation that is the politics of the BJP by being soft Hindu party?
It is pertinent to recall that the Congress used to be described as the Hindu Congress, particularly in the Western media, till 1947, the year that witnessed separation of two territories that was Pakistan,East and West, separated by more than 1000 kms. Congress stalwarts like Gopal Krishan Gokhale, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi advocated soft Hindu line and used Hindu religious symbols as part of their politics.
Punjab is one state whose political dynamics has been different from all other states in the country. It is the Congress that performs the role of the Hindu party and not the BJP or the Sangh Parivar here.
Punjab went a step ahead when Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale started dominated the political discourse. The new term that surfaced in the political lexicon was ‘Brahmanical Congress’ that was held responsible for all the ills of the state in general and the Sikhs in particular.
The Sangh Parivar covertly supported the Congress in the 2017 assembly election in Punjab despite the BJP being in alliance with the Akali Dal since 1996.
Rahul Gandhi is in the process of reinventing himself. Political leaders of his stature have teams to advise them. However, folk sense is different. Modi has that sense, at least he has been playing his divisive cards well so far while blunting his criticism with his otherwise hollow slogan of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikaas’. Democracy does not amount to throwing some crumbs as part of ‘sabka vikaas’ policy. The Sangh Parivar practices democratic dictatorship as against participatory democracy.
The Sangh Parivar has succeeded in polarising large sections of people for whom demonitisation and GST do not matter. A BJP candidate set the agenda in Karnataka when he announced the issue was the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
Confronting communal political amounts to walking on razor’s edge under this situation.
Chandigarh represented a classic example in one such Lok Sabha election when the society had been polarised by the Congress on Punjab agenda. The Sikhs as a community decided to support Janata Party leader Harmohan Dhawan in Chandigarh. His polling booths were deserted by the afternoon. The Congress won hands down.
It is the Congress that is now at the receiving end. It is the Sangh Parivar that has now perfected the use of communal card rendering Rahul’s soft Hindu politics ineffective. The party succeeded in throwing the Congress out in Karnataka although stopped short of attaining majority.
It is the people’s politics that provide the alternative. The BJP too had used this card when it brought in people like Anna Hazare.
The issue here is not bringing in another Anna Hazare but of connecting with people.
Arrogance continues to be the biggest enemy of the Congress even after getting reduced to being a regional party.