“I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration but we accept all religions as true.”
— Swami Vivekananda, Response to Welcome, Addresses at the Parliament of Religions, Chicago September 11, 1893
Another attempt to re-launch the Gandhi scion, this time on foreign soil has failed miserably. Not just because Rahul Gandhi decided to take a barb at the present Government in Bharat and termed the entire nation to be dynastic but mainly because he chose to speak about the fabricated ‘liberal’ ideas and the ‘lost vision of Bharat’.
The critical question is what liberal ethos of Bharat is and who is responsible for killing it. The dynastic heir did pay homage to the victims of 9/11 terror attack, which he should have, but did not even bother to mention the other 9/11 which has had more significance from Bharatiya point of view, the Chicago speech of Swami Vivekananda. He forgot the fact that the vision of Bharat has evolved through a civilisational history and the tribal wisdom he referred to represents that. The Congress party after taken over by the family largely relied on foreign ideas and constructs and therefore responsible for killing the indigenous vision which the cultural nationalist point of view is trying to restore since Independence.
In a stage managed event, Rahul Gandhi chose to certify the University that provided him with the platform by calling it as “a tremendous institution” that “believes in a liberal ideology”. It is the same University of California, Berkeley where a 1,500-strong crowd of protestors opposing the so-called far-right speaker, conservative gay firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos, the senior editor of American News website Breitbart, was not only prevented from speaking but also saw of stones pelting, breaking of window panes and looting of property resulting into cancellation of the event and damaging the property worth thousands of dollars.
Berkeley also stands for a very JNU like ‘liberalism’, where students or speakers associated with the worldview other than that of the Communists are labelled as ‘hate-mongerers and fascists’ and not allowed to speak. Is this the ‘liberal’ thinking Rahul Gandhi was talking about? In that case he was just propagating the Communist hooliganism as he did in the JNU campus last year in February. This is perhaps the reason he didn’t utter a word against Mamata Banerjee going all out to scuttle the Opposition voices in Bengal or Kerala witnessing series of killings of the RSS Swayamsevaks. Standing with the Communists, who believed that real independence is to be brought through revolution and therefore, didn’t participate in the Constitution making process, are giving sermons on ‘liberal’ thinking. The ideology that stands for ‘violence’ as the only way of change, is directly or indirectly supported by the Congress and that is the primary reason for ideological bankruptcy and decline of the oldest political party.
Has his dynastic party ever shown the true liberal spirit? Unfortunately, track record doesn’t say so. His great-grandfather first misused the Constitutional provisions for media censorship on media like Organiser which was reporting against the Government policy on refugees after the Partition and grandmother going beyond that used all out power not only to kill ‘media freedom’ but to finish the entire Opposition by imposing national Emergency. His father had brought the controversial Indian Post Office (Amendment) Bill, 1986, which would have authorised the Government to censor personal mail. Considering his sense of history, it is necessary to remind him the dynastic record on ‘free speech’.
The true liberal ethos of Bharat stands for ‘universal acceptance’, as Swami Vivekananda called and not the ‘tolerance’ as Communist variant of Liberalism makes us believe. Reinventing Congress with that ethos and having courage to connect with the youth on Bharatiya soil is the real challenge for Rahul Gandhi and the Congress. But as he mentioned in his interaction, the question is of ‘ability and sensitivity’. Opposition should question the Government on right issues and with right approach and Congress can do the greatest service to the nation by doing so. For that disconnecting with the Communist hypocrisy of raising bogey of ‘fake Liberalism’ and reconnecting with the real Gandhian principles based on civilisational values is the key. Is someone within the Congress ready to take this challenge?