I was brought up in a politically aware but increasingly disengaged environment at home in Bengal, with my close relatives having been actively associated mostly with the INC pre or post independence but veering towards the Left or the socialists since the 70s – in the early part of which I was born.
As I grew up, the BJP emerged from the Jana Sangh and the INC broke up again, courtesy V. P. Singh, leading to political and socio-economic uncertainty for almost a decade in the 90s.
There was speculation on whether the Congress, revived as the INC by Rajiv Gandhi in the 80s after its splintering in the late 60s that led to to the birth of the Congress(I), could or should continue to exist as a political party of national consequence and as a natural choice of governance so far into India’s independence – for which purpose it had primarily existed prior to 1947.
Since the arrival of the new millennium, the nation saw the NDA and the UPA 1 and UPA 2. And now we have NDA 2, better known as Modi Sarkar.
And, if anything, what has become clear, at least to me, and especially in the past two years, is that a resurgent, reformed, revitalized and re-dedicated Indian National Congress is needed less for itself and more for the country. To check majoritarianism, combat communalism, defeat obscurantism, arrest regressiveness, confront misinformation, and restore our country to the path of progressiveness, inclusive social and economic development while harnessing science, technology, innovation and investment, and to protect the rights of our tribals, minorities, Dalits, students, farmers, women, and almost every other marginalized, underprivileged or dissident citizen.
Therefore, I have chosen to ally myself
with the Indian National Congress, while being supportive of other progressive forces in our country, whether in the present or future.
And I have chosen thus for the mostly progressive yet humanitarian values it stands for, the pluralism, secularism and consensual approach it espouses, the country wide and broad appeal its core message has for the people of India, the space it provides to people of different hues and colours and individual preferences to be part of its rainbow umbrella, the rich legacy of leadership and humanism it has, the courage it has shown in largely owning up mistakes of the past and moving on by making significant, if not complete, amends, and the promise it holds for the future as a liberal, progressive, humanist and social democratic pivot of our polity.
But if the INC were to select a rogue candidate for an election or if any of its party leaders or governments were to take a stand or act in a manner contrary to its own values or the larger interests of the people, then I would not hesitate to question or criticize the same, because it is the values that the INC is based on that I support, and not any individual or group or institution blindly.
And it is possible to be a Congressperson by taking such a stand and adopting such an outlook, without having any malafide intent, of course, as many Congresspersons from the past and the present have demonstrated amply, unlike the case with many of the INC’s political opponents, despite all the insinuations about the INC’s “dynastic politics” and the other usual bogies that are raised by both INC haters or baiters.
And that makes the INC uniquely positioned to draw the young and old of India to its fold and move this country forward confidently to understand, mitigate, confront or resolve the many issues, risks, challenges and problems that face us today and the ones that will present themselves to us in the future.