Nominal democracy

Skipping burning corruption issues in the country, the Congress president talked Kashmir at the AICC session this week. Iftikhar Gilani reports.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi finally woke up on Kashmir, describing the recent unrest as “painful” and appealed to give peace a chance. At the one-day All India Congress Committee (AICC) session, where she was re-elected as head of grand-old party, though skirting the issues of corruption in the wake of Mumbai housing scam  and the CWG irregularities, she touched Kashmir, communalism, coalition politics, internal security and Naxalism.

Analysts here believe that half-hearted confidence building measures (CBMs) moving at snail’s pace have spoiled the “feel-good” factor generated by the visit of all-party delegation to Kashmir last month. The impression has gone around that while the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has gone into a shell, the Congress President is bereft of ideas. Her son is out to save Omar Abdullah from the wrath of his own party despite allegation of “governance deficit” from none other than the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by the Prime Minister. JK Congress unit may be divided on many issues, but all the factions agree that continuance of present coalition was inching them closer to “political death”.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was almost wiped out from Jammu region after it allied with the national conference. It regained the ground only after distancing itself from the NC and later leading a communal agitation on Amarnath land row.

Mrs. Gandhi said the government was keen on a “meaningful political dialogue” with all political parties and regions of the state for which the interlocutors have been appointed.  We are faced with a new situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The events of the last few months were painful,” she said, expressing anguish at the loss of young lives in Kashmir.

“I share their grief. Their loss is national loss. The whole generation has seen nothing but violence and conflict,” she said.  

She urged all those who are “dissatisfied” in Jammu and Kashmir with the government to trust the government and “give peace a chance and enable us to build future for the next generation”.

At the AICC session, a deliberate design was evident as not a word was spoken about corruption, scams and scandals by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh or Pranab Mukherjee, who moved the only political resolution adopted at the session. It was left for general secretary Digvijay Singh to tell reporters that the Congress is ever sensitive to any corruption but this was a Congress session and not a session to focus on corruption.

The Prime Minister was quick to order an all-comprising probe immediately after the Commonwealth Games were over and the Congress president has already set up a 2-member committee of senior leaders Mukherjee and A K Antony in the Adarsh Housing Society scam of Mumbai and so don’t say the party is silent over scams, Digvijay Singh insisted.

The only concrete agenda of the session was to elect half the members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision making body, but the irony was that the AICC hailed Rahul Gandhi in a political resolution for bringing internal democracy in the frontal organisations but conveniently blocked elections in the party. Sonia Gandhi, who too showered praise on her son for democratising Youth Congress and student wing NSUI, readily accepted to nominate the CWC.

No doubts were left that Sonia Gandhi herself wants to pack the CWC with her own hand-picked leaders and not through elections as the hint came from general secretary Janaradan Dwivedi conducting the session when he referred to many state units passing resolutions authorizing the Congress president and went on to justify nominations saying “organisation is run by cooperation, not competition.”

The audience correctly decoded the message with a roar as soon as poll authority chief Oscar Fernandes got up to talk about the planned elections and true to the script announced that “there will be no election, we leave it to Sonia Gandhi.”

The only political resolution that the session passed as also speeches of Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh all focused on branding RSS as a terror outfit and talked about inclusive growth and improvement in the Kashmir situation.

Price rise and Naxalism were also on her scanner but not corruption.

The political resolution moved by Mukherjee said: “Recent investigation reveals the true colour of RSS. It shows the involvement of RSS members in acts of terrorism. Congress will continue its fight against communal forces who are trying to destabilise India.”

Through the resolution, the party vowed to fight against all forces that spread religious hatred, prejudice and bigotry and seek to polarise people along religious lines.

Rahul Gandhi, who sat in the back row of the dais at the AICC session at the Talkatora Stadium here, was made to speak following vociferous demands from the assembled leaders time and again, though he himself said that he was not supposed to speak. He focused on the “garib shakti” (power of the poor). There are “two Hindustans,” one for the rich and other for the poor, “but it is only the poor people who can take the country forward, and if we have to take the poor people forward, the Prime Minister’s strategy for economic growth is a necessity,” he affirmed.
The resolution also lambasted the opposition-ruled state governments taking credit for the central programmes, pointing out that it is the UPA government that has increased the funds to unprecedented levels to all states, irrespective of the party in power, for development and social programmes.


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