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We unreservedly apologise for not preventing the tragic events of December 6
The 12th Lok Sabha Election.
The forthcoming elections are a fight not just for seats and for forming a government in New Delhi.
More fundamentally, these elections are a fight among competing visions of India and a struggle among contending approaches to assuring a better life for all Indians.
There are three broad formations contesting these elections. The Congress, the BJP and its allies and the Untied Front.
The fight is among a national party, an opportunistic alliance of 11 parities and another opportunistic alliance of 14 parties.
The United Front
The United Front is a rag-tag combination of 14 regional and state-level parties with no ideological coherence.
The United Front has propounded a new thesis. It believes that the days of single-party majority rule at the Centre are over and that we have entered into an era of coalitions.
It has gone so far as to say that only a coalition government of regional parties can be a true reflection of our federal character.
The Congress believes that this is hollow, baseless and dangerous.
Indian federalism as envisaged in our Constitution has stood the test of time. It has served the nation well.
A combination of regional parties cannot have a common national approach.
By their very nature, regional parties lack a national perspective and can never rise above local ethnic considerations.
They adopt populist platforms for coming to power. They incite narrow linguistic or ethnic sentiments. Very soon, these agendas become a recipe for economic disaster and social turmoil.
The TDP in Andhra Pradesh, the AGP in Assam and the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab cannot play any meaningful role in national politics.
In the event of a conflict between national and regional or local interest, regional parties will choose the latter to the detriment of India as we know it and as we cherish it.
Most regional parties are one-issue or one-person parties. Many are born. More fade away.
The need today is to have a sense of national purpose and endeavour in which local issues and concerns also get due recognition and get addressed.
As for the Left parties, even after seven decades, the CPI and the CPM have not been able to integrate themselves into the national mainstream. Their national importance has been dwindling and today their presence is confined to only three states, West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.
For the past twenty years, the Left Front continues to be in power in West Bengal even though the Congress has continued to enjoy 40 pc of the popular vote.
The Left Front has simply ruined West Bengal that was one of the premier industrial states in the country prior to 1977. Most industries are sick and obsolete. New investment is a trickle.
Double-speak is its characteristic. It opposes all sensible economic policies in Parliament but its state governments try to attract new businesses from abroad and other parts of India.
Lack of infrastructure, poor road connectivity, non-responsive administration and overwhelming influence of partisan interests in decision-making processes are all holding back investors from investing in these three states. The law and order situation is particularly bad. Political victimisation has taken place on an unprecedented scale and a 'cadre raj' has been established, destroying the established administrative machinery.
The blind anti-Congressism of the Left parties has manifested itself on many occasions. The CPM played a leading role in giving respectability to the BJP in 1989 in its naked opposition to the Congress. The BJP was politically isolated having won just two seats in the 1984 elections. But the CPM gave it political acceptance to the national stage.
The Janata Dal was born in a convulsive fit of anti-Congressism in 1989. It is a collection of disparate groups and embittered individuals driven by egos. It can hardly be called a serious political formation. Like an amoeba, it lives on splitting itself into smaller and smaller groups. Its platform of social justice is hollow and is just a misleading cover for the practice of divisive caste politics. The leadership of the Janata Dal in the United Front under two prime ministers has been disastrous. The economy has been ruined. There has been no real governance. All matters have been allowed to drift.
The conclusion that single-party rule is over is erroneous and simplistic. Eight out of 11 Lok Sabha elections have given clear mandates.
The Congress is a national party with strong regional, state and local moorings. Only the Congress can channelise regional sentiment in a constructive manner and make it part of an overall national developmental design and social sense of purpose.
The BJP-led formation is no less unwieldy. It has eight parties. The BJP's alliances have not been made on the basis of some common principles but only with an eye on the elections.
The ugly, fascist face of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar has not been adequately appreciated and exposed.
We must warn the people of this great and freedom-loving country that fascist forces capture power through democratic processes at the initial stage.
These forces present a moderate face to begin with to win power. Soon, the real face takes over.
The emergence of the Nazis in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s under Hitler is a classic example of how fascist forces manipulate democracy to reach their goal.
M S Golwalkar, the second president of the RSS adopted Nazi Germany as his model for his racialistic definition of citizenship (Hinduism and Hindutva) and the purported distinction between cultural nationalism (Bharat) and territorial nationalism (India).
The RSS-controlled, VHP-driven, Bajrang Dal-influenced BJP is doing exactly the same thing -- manipulating democracy to subvert it finally.
Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, founder of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the earlier incarnation of the BJP, made a plea to Sardar Patel on behalf of the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha which were banned in 1948 following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
In reply, Sardar Patel wrote, "activities of these bodies, particularly the former, created an atmosphere in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of government and the State".
On September 11, 1948, Sardar Patel wrote to Golwalkar, the RSS founder, "...organising the Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge of innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus".
Sardar Patel's words ring true even today.
The RSS and the BJP are exemplars of the politics of hate. They embody the politics of exclusion.
The similarities between the RSS-BJP of today and the Nazis of the 1930s are striking. The campaign methods are similar. The slogans are similar. The approach to winning support among the educated is similar.
The tactics of the RSS have always been to launch a hate campaign against the established leadership of individuals and thereafter to create an atmosphere so that the individuals and the parties opposed to them are eliminated -- more often than not, physically.
December 6th, 1992 reaffirmed what the RSS and the BJP are all about.
The BJP made solemn commitments to the Supreme Court, to Parliament and to the National Integration Council that the Babri Masjid would be protected.
The Congress government at the Centre believed that these commitments would be honoured both in letter and spirit.
It was betrayed.
Even so, it unreservedly apologises to the people of India that it could not prevent the tragic events of December 6th, 1992. The Congress gives a solemn pledge that such events will not take place again.
It is clear that such commitments were only a smokescreen, a ruse. The main actors of this demolition squad proudly asserted that "matters of faith are not subject to the law and the Constitution".
The BJP is not apologetic. It wants to repeat Ayodhya at Kashi and Mathura.
1992 was repeated in 1997 when the BJP destroyed democracy in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP asserted that "extraordinary situations called for extraordinary solutions".
But was this justification for large-scale defections, allurements, huge-sized cabinets and naked rowdyism on the floor of the assembly?
That the public face of the BJP is not its real face is becoming evident everyday.
Even the media hype can no longer gloss over this.
A leading RSS ideologue has candidly admitted that the BJP and its alliance partners differ over issues relating to Hindutva, Article 370, etc.
Elections cannot be trivialised into a beauty contest.
Ours is a parliamentary form of democracy. This is the only type of democracy that can be fully representative of India and responsive to its needs. It is the only form of democracy that can reflect the plurality of India.
Political parties contest elections. Individuals are important but ours is not to a presidential system. Our founding fathers, wise men and women, had for good reasons, rejected such a system.
The Congress gave India a parliamentary form of democracy.
And, its commitment to this is total.
Now is not the time to experiment.
It is time for an experienced hand.
It is time for the Congress hand.
The Congress is an open, transparent organisation. It is not run by remote control by some secretive sangh, fanatical parishad, reckless dal or dangerous sena.
The Congress is there for everybody to see. There is no mukhota.
The Congress's concept of stability is the stability of ideas, of policies and of programmes.
Stability to the Congress is not the stability of individuals. Individuals have come and gone but the Congress Vichardhaara rolls on.
To the Congress, stability is not an end but a means to an end -- and that end is growth, human development and social harmony.
The Congress does not see stability as a resting-place. It sees stability as a springboard to user in change that will mean a better quality of life to all Indians.
Stability cannot be imposed or artificially simulated. Yet, this is what the BJP is trying to do.
So far, no state government run by the BJP has been able to complete its full term.
In 1995, the BJP got a two-third majority in the Gujarat assembly elections. Yet, in less than just two yeas, the BJP had lost power.
Thrice in the past seven years, the BJP has formed the government in Uttar Pradesh. But its development record is dismal. Continued political instability and the absence of the Congress for the past seven years has halted all development in Uttar Pradesh.
There has not been a single worthwhile developmental initiative that has come out of BJP state governments.
If they cannot usher in change in the states under their control, how can they usher in change at the national level?
Stability is born out of knowledge of and expertise in running a government.
Stability results when there is a clear agenda, an agenda that is not set by remote control but is based on an understanding of what people need and should have.
Stability comes not jut from numbers.
The Congress did not have an absolute majority in 1970 and 1991. But it provided a stable government that ushered in revolutionary economic and social changes.
That is because it knew that a clear development vision and pro-people policies automatically attract support.
Non-Congress governments have never been stable.
In 1977, the first non-Congress government at the Centre that included the then Jan Sangh had the numbers on its side. Yet it fell in just 24 months.
In 1989, the second non-Congress government obtained outside support from the BJP and assumed office. Yet it fell within 11 months with the BJP withdrawing support.
Stability is not a cover for maintaining the status quo or justifying a policy of caution. It means change that improves the living conditions of all. To the Congress, stability is resilience and tenacity of purpose.
To the true Congress workers, secularism is an article of faith, a way of life.
The Congress does not consider secularism to be anti-religion or the rejection of religion. It means Sarva Dharma Samabhaava, equal respect for all religions.
It means the rejection of the use of religion for political ends, the rejection of the mobilisation of people by stirring up religious passions.
The Congress has always believed that an India that is not secular just cannot survive.
Democracy and social harmony can never flourish in a society that is not secular.
Indian civilisation has lived and grown over the past 5000 years and more only because of its secular tradition.
We are the world's oldest and largest pluralistic society.
That heritage is under attack.
Puralism under attack means democracy under attack.
The vandals belonging to the Sangh Parivar, who pulled down the Babri Masjid were not just destroying India's composite culture. They were, in fact, also destroying Indian democracy.
Religious passions are being unleashed and people are being mobilised in the name of religion.
India's hallmark has been both its desire and capability for synthesis.
That is sought to be rejected in the name of uniformity of "cultural nationalism", whatever that might mean.
The Congress regards all citizens as equal.
Yet, it recognises minorities of several kinds because of the special disadvantages that they suffer and the special help they need. This is the burden of history.
This is not appeasement.
This is simply heeding the call of the Indian Constitution.
The Congress rejects communalism of all kinds, communalism whatever its source.
Neither the Congress nor the country can ever forget that we have lost two of the most precious lives of India at the altar of secularism: Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi.
Since its inception, the Congress has fought against communal forces in all forms.
Alone among political parties, the Congress has never compromised with the BJP. Nor will it ever do so.
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