‘The Congress party has become a poltergeist’

The pat post-facto rationalisation of the Gujarat verdict is that the Congress was hoist with its own petard because it was speaking a political language that not too care to follow in an India on the march. In other words, Sonia Gandhi, by hurling the “maut ke saudagar” grenade, reopened the Godhra wound ignoring the fact that Gujarati voters wanted to “forgive and forget” and “move on”.

Tarun J. Tejpal, the editor-in-chief of Tehelka, disagrees. The Congress, he writes, erred in not addressing the Godhra pogrom and Narendra Modi hands-on complicity head-on. Result: The century-old “keeper of the humane flame”, in whose crucible the idea of India was born and delivered, has forgotten what it stands for. It has become a poltergeist: its shape amorphous, its intentions shadowy, its substance insubstantial:

“The stupid spin doctors of the Congress who are now running a whisper campaign to blame Sonia Gandhi need to realise that maybe they got wiped out not because she made a direct assault on bigotry, but because none of them did. What they did was to show that they were not leaders in Gujarat but mere vote accountants, desperate opportunists. They wooed the bigots they were meant to fight; they relied on snatching and stealing vote banks, not inspiring and commanding them; they came not with a vision for the people or the country but with a game-plan to acquire power. There was nothing in their speech or conduct that inspired trust.

“Instead of taking on the travesty of 2002 directly, and eloquently appealing to the Gujarati to see the dangers of an unjust society, they decided to play the bigotry game. Today these same strategists who assured everyone they had the whole election stitched up are running for cover, spinning further dishonesty—bereft both of power, and the lustre that comes from having stood for the right thing and fought the good fight.

“In contrast the Italian-born lady at least addressed the fundamental issue, and understood that at the end of the day the moment may be about Modi but its final message is not. The final message is about contesting world views, the civilisational vision. Do we wish to travel on the miraculous road the founding fathers forged: democratic, liberal, inclusive, modern? Or are we going to careen off into jingoism, bigotry, retrograde religion, and the powermongering of political-corporate cabals? As a people do we look to becoming modern or merely prosperous? As a people do we understand that a free society, a democracy, is not just about winning elections but about creating and sustaining institutions that strive for equality, justice and fairplay?

“Might is not right. Majority is not right. Money is not right. In the good society, only right is right. And we all know, at all times, the difference between right and wrong.”

Read the full article here: To kill a party