Ms Natarajan’s letter is evidence that none of the high concepts that the party swears by are practised in the running of it. In proportion perhaps to the degree of feudalism attained, the party has become weaker among the people.
Is Jayanthi Natarajan quitting the Congress party a big deal? Despite her claims in her letter addressed to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, where she repeatedly mentions her long service to the party, it would be difficult to see her as a leader with a mass following like, say, K. Kamaraj, who was partly responsible for the Congress’s split in 1969.Ms Natarajan’s letter asks, despite her assertions about the patriotic sacrifices she and her family have made, why she was ordered to quit her position as environment minister when no party work was assigned to her in lieu of that. Unfortunately, the voice she has assumed in the letter is that of a servant pleading with her master(s) for a measure of reasonableness in the torture meted out to her for long. If it reveals anything, it is the feudal nature of a political party that has for long assumed the high moral ground of secularism, a certain kind of socialism of subsidies, and democracy.Also read: Jayanthi Natarajan’s tenure saw unexplained delays, say ministry officials
Ms Natarajan’s letter is evidence that none of the high concepts that the party swears by are practised in the running of it. In proportion perhaps to the degree of feudalism attained, the party has become weaker among the people. The 44 seats it has now shrunk to in a House of 545 is clear proof of the decay, especially when you recall that the Congress has been for long a great and innovative political enterprise — since its founding in 1885.Some 130 years later, the party, which Gandhiji had thought should be disbanded once freedom was won, much like Jiddu Krishnamurti had said – and proceeded to do, too – of the Theosophical movement whose extension the Congress was in its initial years.)Ms Natarajan’s anguished letter — one saves the best tears for oneself — is an important document, not because it traces the events that led to her departure. Rather it illustrates the unaccountability of the Gandhi family and their lordly indifference to lesser mortals; that they profess democracy, but may be willfully neglectful of it when their own actions are concerned. Equally, it shows how the rest of the senior Congress leaders carefully avoided intervening on her behalf. The silence they maintained in effect acted like a cabal, protecting the family’s interests.Also read: 8 things you need to know about Jayanthi Natarajan’s letter to Sonia Gandhi
It is a family whose fortunes, like that of the party it has led close to a hundred years now, are at their lowest; perhaps not financially, but certainly in terms of intellectual quotient. Which is why neither Rahul Gandhi nor Sonia Gandhi has a clue on how to stage a political comeback. The party’s senior leaders obviously dare not come up with a battle plan presumably because silence often ensures survival.Prime Minister Narendra Modi can rest assured in the knowledge that the Congress party has run into a dead alley. Arguably, with Rahul Gandhi, the Nehru dynasty is likely to have touched a new intellectual low. Bereft of imagination and political initiative, the Gandhis have no alternative but to stick to their historically privileged position as leaders. This is a position they have come to by birth. As things go from bad to worse, the Gandhis are more and more likely to stiffen in their sense of entitlement.Also read: Jayanthi Natarajan’s letter bomb: Will the Congress High Command finally wake up and smell the coffee?
In the long run, the whittling down of the Congress party is not good for a functioning, accountable democracy. Surely, you need a strong Opposition to question and correct those in power, in this instance Modi’s BJP. But as in the case of most things, the change has to start from within, and so far neither Rahul nor Sonia has shown signs of the introspection that a defeat of the order and magnitude of 2014 would have commanded.Ms Natarajan’s letter then does not so much raise the question of the nature of her ouster from positions of power as the Congress party’s own future. Indeed, has it one outside the Nehru family?Also read: Cannot continue in ‘suffocating atmosphere’, says Jayanthi Natarajan