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Touchy Congress bad for democracy

Salman Khurshid, senior Congress leader and current Union Law Minister, was forced to defend himself after reportedly making adverse comments about his party’s general secretary, Rahul Gandhi. In any other democracy, Khurshid’s remarks would have been accepted as part of a political party’s internal matter and, in some cases, the party leaders would have even reflected on his thoughts.

Not in India, and certainly not in the Congress party. Rahul, after all, is a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi “dynasty” and the Prime Minister’s post is often thought of as his for the taking. His father, his grandmother and his great-grandfather have all been India’s Prime Ministers, and in the party he represents, there is hardly any power centre, except for the one that resides at 10, Jan Path in New Delhi.

So, what was Khurshid’s crime that he not only had to clarify his statement as a “misinterpretation” but also fears losing his job and been driven to political oblivion?

In an interview to a newspaper, he reportedly said that his party had become “ideologically directionless” and that “until now, we have only seen cameos of (Rahul’s) thoughts and ideas like democratising elections to the Youth Congress. But he has not weaved all of this into a grand announcement.”

There is nothing wrong in what Khurshid stated. Rahul has not been able to translate his charm and his visits to the rural centres into votes in any of the states he has campaigned in. In fact, under Rahul’s electoral leadership, Congress has not regained power in any of the states it had lost earlier. Therefore, any reasonable political party would have reflected on Khurshid’s comments and deliberated on the road ahead.

Yet, the Congress stubbornly refuses to do so. This is not only dangerous to the party (the general elections are less than two years away), but also to the democratic fabric of this nation if differences of opinion are equated with rebellion. 

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