Congress’ save family march

The lady doth protest too much. As also her son and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and everybody else in the party. Whenever there is any attack on her or the family, the entire Congress starts wailing, screaming, and abusing anybody seen to be against the dynasty. It is in this context that the ‘Loktantra Bachao March (Save Democracy March) should be seen.

Sonia Gandhi, her son, and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh courted arrest on Friday. Apparently for the cause of democracy, the grand old party organized the Save Democracy March; it demonstrated against the Narendra Modi government’s alleged anti-democratic measures in New Delhi. Party workers protested outside the Parliament Street Police station. This was preceded by angry speeches, accusing the government of turning their back on the promise of achhe din (good days), undermining democratic institutions, and indeed of murdering democracy.

Sonia Gandhi blamed the Modi regime for the ouster of the Congress-led governments in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh. “Do not make the mistake of thinking that the Congress party is weak. We will not allow democratic institutions to be weakened or destroyed,” she said.

But why are you saying all this, madam? Who is saying that your party is weak? Besides, if they really think that your party is weak, then they would not bother you anyway. And please don’t lecture anybody on your faith in democratic institutions, for few spectacles are uglier than a canting politician.

Sonia said, “Today, Uttarakhand’s jungles are burning but nothing is being done about it because there is no government. The BJP government is murdering democracy by taking down democratically elected governments. No matter how much they try to fight democracy, we will not let you succeed.”

Are wildfires also the result of the BJP’s machinations? Have no jungles burnt earlier, and would there be no such fires in the future? Has the Congress never dislodged a democratically elected state government in the past? Has she forgotten the impunity with which her mother-in-law, whom she supposedly adores, abused Article 356 of the Constitution? The Emergency, the draconian MISA, the midnight knocks, the forced sterilization programmes? And more recent Section 66A that her flunkeys in the UPA government introduced to terrorize anybody daring to lampoon her?

Yet she, Rahul, and other worthies of the grand old party have the temerity to champion the cause of democracy. It is true that other parties also indulge in the same hypocrisy. But the Congress’ concern for liberal values gets extenuated when the family’s interests are at stake. Twelve years ago, when Sonia was denied the opportunity to become prime minister, party leaders shamelessly wept and howled in public. And now that her name is being dragged in the Agusta-Westland scam, they have closed ranks behind her.

It is, however, doubtful if such bluster would be of any use. The government doesn’t appear to be in a mood to continue to humor the family. It has been too nice to the Gandhis so far; there could have been many reasons for it, e.g., a desire to get crucial pieces of legislation cleared in the Upper House, the influence of Congress-friendly ministers in the government, and so on. But the patience of the Modi regime seems to have run its course. The induction of Subramanian Swamy appears to be a sign of the government’s growing annoyance.

The lady, and her followers, may continue to protest, but it is unlikely to help her.