Congress scion Rahul Gandhi is about to complete yet another attempt to revive his flagging political fortunes in the form a a countrywide march. As per its official website –
“The aim of this Yatra is to unite India; to come together and strengthen our nation…. to raise their voice against the economic, social and political issues that are dividing our nation today. The yatra seeks to address rampant unemployment & inflation, the politics of hate and division and the over-centralisation of our political system.”
We will come back to this aim, but first let’s see the roles of ‘unity’ and ‘diversity’ in a democratic nation. In a democracy, people make a choice between political parties to govern them based on diversity of views, ideologies and vision. At the end of its term, they evaluate its performance and decide whether to re-elect them or throw them out. Therefore some amount of diversity is inherent in a democratic system.
Now unity – in a nation, there are certain issues on which diversity of views aren’t an option. National security and sovereignty are two key ones.
Coming back to the statement of aim of Bharat Jodo Yatra. “To raise their voice against the economic, social and political issues that are dividing our nation today.” These issues are not dividing the nation, as by definition these difference are expected to be present in a democracy. What, if anything that is dividing the nation is attempts to package these differences as divisive in a generic manner rather than providing a coherent critique of the government’s performance as is expected from a responsible opposition. As for seeking to address “rampant unemployment & inflation, the politics of hate and division and the over-centralisation of our political system.” It’s difficult to understand how this massive tamasha will address unemployment and inflation. About hate and over-centralisation – is it truly an issue, or a narrative being built? That could be left for the people to decide in the next election, which is what the yatra is targeting of course.
But what really rankles is the doublespeak of Congress on the key issues of unity – national security and sovereignty. The recent statements on the Pulwama attack and surgical strikes, damage control notwithstanding, indicates the ambiguity within Congress vis a vis its stance on national security. The glee with which the party has welcomed a documentary by a foreign broadcaster targeting the Indian PM on a matter in which the Supreme Court of India has already given an unambiguous decision shows it is taking our sovereignty lightly. Rahul Gandhi may have walked thousands of kilometres over the past few months, but when it come to unity and diversity, what we would like to see him is walk the talk.