Ramachandra Guha is at it again: telling the world that we (the Congress) are incapacitating ourselves from dismantling the horrific, incompetent edifice of the Modi Government. For him, what stands between our version of perestroika and the present is the dynastic politics of the Congress. Who is to remind him that the two notable scions who left the Congress cannot shake off their family connections? Certainly, Guha is an honourable man and Mark Antony would said so about the distinguished historian. But he wears blinkers. No one questions his right to reject Rahul Gandhi as an alternative to the horrors we face. Thankfully, he concedes civility to the leader he dismisses because of his name and the sad coincidence of having arrived on the political stage when politics was going seriously wrong.
Reject anyone you wish, Mr. Historian, but surely you are not serious about Ms Mahua Moitra as an alternative, delightful, as her political demeanour and vocabulary might be.
I imagine that Guha could have marshalled many arguments to reject Rahul Gandhi and dismiss those of us who have the courage of our conviction in publicly standing by him. After all, many people reject PM Modi and the unthinking legions that support him despite the devastation we see around us. But must an honourable historian and intellectual twist words only to underscore a priori opinions? Taking objection to my tweet about the "once and future king of democracy" which was about Rahul Gandhi, he said it was in 'bad taste' and sought to instruct me (as a Senior Advocate, he underscored) that Republics do not have kings. But surely, he did not have to edit my tweet by reducing it to 'once and future king', leaving out 'democracy'. Was he unable to persuade even himself that by using or including the expression 'democracy', he could still make a point? I am curious that the romance of Camelot, once used to describe late President John Kennedy by his widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, is unfamiliar to Guha. Or perhaps he does not think the lay reader deserves to dwell upon such erudition. He might have said 'king' and 'democracy' do not gel together just as 'king of tragedy', or, closer home to Guha, a 'king of spin' may be equally objectionable.
If we are to win the war against propaganda experts and fake news purveyors, is falsehood the answer? It has been my experience in courts that a lawyer who feels nervous about the facts of her case tends to become economical with the truth. Contemporary India is yearning for truth, and we must all accept the truth no matter how bitter it is. Of course, like with Guha, we may continue to disagree about what the truth is. The moment someone thinks there is but one truth, and that too, only what they believe to be true, we get the beginning of dictatorship. Many a self-opinionated person have unwittingly ushered in dictatorships but then I need not tell this to a historian.
Guha is not alone in making this mistake. Many powerful leaders are hoping to join hands to take on the might of the BJP. But as we have seen in recent times, they are reluctant to share space in their own region with the Congress whose reach is pan-India, despite the setbacks it has suffered. Sensible coalitions cannot be based on exploiting real or perceived weaknesses, but by exploring strengths that in cooperation and collaboration. Coalition culture must be understood in its true essence and sustained through honest adjustment and bonding over a reasonable timeline, and not just a single election.
We can all work consciously to find the right mix and adjustment, or allow circumstances to force the outcome. Strategy is the name of the game and that needs a clear head unclouded by personal ambition. At the end of the day, team members have to implicitly trust each other, be on the same page about ideology, and need I say, be willing to sacrifice. Ultimately, we are to be judged by the voter, and not scholars who wish to fit the political landscape into their preconceived notion of the solution for our times.
(Salman Khurshid is a senior advocate, Congress party leader, and is a former Minister of External Affairs.)
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