The G-23 of the Congress has names with an impressive history of achievement in the party and beyond. But thousands of unknown and unnamed Congress cadres who gave to the party but unavoidably received little or nothing in return, too believe in democracy. But looking at the times we are in they recall President John Kennedy’s advice, ‘ Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country (read party). This is not being in denial or playing the proverbial ostrich.
We thought the G-23 made their point and were suitably informed that party elections will be held when appropriate (something they agreed to in their interaction with the Congress President and later at the CWC ). But are they changing the goal posts once again with the public display of disquiet (or reservations ) in Jammu and as we are being told, very soon in Haryana?
Some home truths are imperative to bring into public discourse even though the party leadership has sought to continue with intent to remain patient and reflective. Our history of the last 50 years has not been an easy one, replete with complex challenges and of course the divisive politics of the BJP/RSS combine being the latest and most grievous. We remain trapped between those whose perception is that we brought this upon ourselves by claiming to be uncompromisingly secular and those who believe we failed to put our money where our mouth is when it came to paying a price for our professed secularism.
The growing dark foot print of communal forces has pushed us into forced errors of becoming self conscious. As a result we shy away from speaking about minorities and put on a public display of identifying with the cultural symbols of the majority that have largely been appropriated by the BJP. We have been forced to accept ‘mistakes’ made by our heroes because public mood appears to require it. Obviously this calls for careful balancing of reality and perception, strategy and ideology. We need all leaders, old and young, happy and unhappy, ideologues and personally ambitious, favoured and neglected to come together to deal with this challenge instead of cribbing about real and imagined democratic deficits. They must not forget that democracy is a process, not static in time. Ultimately it is a relevant question whether it is fair to kick the very ladder you have climbed to the top storey of life from where making speeches is easy. But do think of the many who did not make it to the ladder, the elevated platforms being far beyond reach.
When the storm clouds are gathering all round must we be arguing about of size of the candle we are given to carry or even if the candle has burnt itself out. If we have to be in the dark for a while let us keep faith that the sun shall shine again, perhaps soon. There are two ways of spending these dark moments: to count our blessings and the moments of joy and comfort our party has given to us; or else to wing about what we did not receive. If we choose the latter what conviction will we carry with the innumerable workers who continue to hope that the darkness will give way. Besides how will we be judged by history? It might be more important to worry about that than to seek a better place in the present.
We claim to be proud inheritors of the mantle of the freedom fighters but that glory and India’s Independence came with many of them having closed their eyes long before the dawn of 14 August 1947. Sacrifice cannot come with pre-conditions of success though it helps to have abiding faith that we will overcome one day.
We have to tip toe through the shattered and scattered pieces of our hopes and aspirations for the idea of India, not because the pieces are sharp and with edges but because we need to once again pick them up and glue them together. Is it honourable to be asking what share we will have in the India of tomorrow and what credit our party will give us? Just as the names of national martyrs are engraved on India Gate there are records in the Congress office where innumerable names are embossed as part of our history. For most of us that is enough recognition.
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