Social activist Agnivesh on Wednesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party had made baiting the “Nehru-Gandhi family” fashionable by attacking the Congress for practising dynasty politics. He said political dynasties were also prevalent in the saffron party.
Speaking about the appointment of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi as the party’s interim president, Agnivesh said she had “put herself in the line of duty, despite indifferent health”. “Sonia’s contribution to the political history of India is unique and commendable,” he added.
The Congress appointed Sonia Gandhi to the post after her son Rahul Gandhi refused to continue in the post following the debacle in the Lok Sabha elections. Numerous attempts by party leaders in the past two months to convince Rahul Gandhi to change his decision have failed. Sonia Gandhi will hold the post till the party holds an election to pick Rahul Gandhi’s successor.
Agnivesh pointed out that a number of Congres leaders across the country had deserted the party, comparing them to “rats fleeing a sinking ship”, and pointed out that in the past Sonia Gandhi had commandeered the party in time of its “gravest crisis”. Last month, the defections of 14 Congress MLAs in Karnataka led to the collapse of the coalition government it used to run along with the Janata Dal (Secular). The same month, at least 10 Congress MLAs in Goa officially joined the BJP.
The social activist also urged Opposition parties to “strengthen inner-party democracy” and present a strong opposition to the BJP. “All the more so, because the core strategy of Modi-Shah duo is to eradicate all Opposition, and to reinvent democracy as a de facto dictatorship,” Agnivesh claimed, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. “I call upon all who care for our democratic way of life to join parties that believe in grassroots democracy and have a proven commitment to secularism.”
Here’s the full statement:
The BJP has succeeded in making the ‘Nehru-Gandhi’ family baiting a fashionable thing. This is an outright prejudice. And it is, clearly, not a matter of exorcising India of the dynastic spirit; for the same spirit roams freely in BJP circles as well.
Allergy to politics, especially in the wake of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, has been second nature to Sonia. Yet, she outgrew this personal dislike when the party was facing a crisis in the late ‘90s. Quite characteristically, she refused to be the PM when there was a hysterical popular demand for it. She demitted office as the President of the INC some 20 months ago, when no one wanted her to do so.
Now, as the grand old party is facing the gravest crisis in its history, she has put herself in the line of duty, despite indifferent health, in an exemplary fashion. Public memory is, alas, too short. It is vulnerable to manipulation. So, we have quickly forgotten everything. But it brings no one any credit to be blind to the good in a fellow human being and, what is worse, to perversely malign the role she plays in public life. Sonia’s contribution to the political history of India is unique and commendable.
The Congress is now a party that few are lining up for. Rather, many congress men are flocking to the BJP, we are told, like ‘rats fleeing a sinking ship’. The operative part is the identity of those who flee. Rats may flee sinking ships; but a heroic captain stands his ground and steadies the ship, which is what Sonia has volunteered to do.
This is a crucial message to the country as a whole. The urgent need of Indian democracy is to forge a strong and credible opposition to the ruling dispensation. All the more so, because the core strategy of the Modi-Shah duo is to eradicate all opposition, and to re-invent democracy as a de facto dictatorship. I call upon all who care for our democratic way of life to join parties that believe in grassroots democracy and have a proven commitment to secularism. Also, I urge opposition parties to strengthen inner-party democracy and shape themselves according to the will and wishes of their ranks and the people of India.
Our country is poised precariously on the brink. It is a situation that does not permit the luxury of indifference or neutrality. If secular-pluralist democracy is to survive in our country it is imperative that the people of India reject communal politics and the ascendancy of political unilateralism. This needs to be deemed our foremost spiritual duty today.
I urge all Congress men and women to stay steadfast by the party. I also appeal to all who care for the health and wholeness of our political culture to reject attempts to make India opposition-mukt, lest we find ourselves, far too soon, groaning under the yoke of tyranny and oppression.