For India’s democracy to get back on track, the Congress must become more competitive: Ramachandra Guha

On Tuesday, historian Ramachandra Guha said that to “revive” a healthy democracy in India where one party doesn’t steamroll the opposition, a lot depends on the Congress becoming more competitive. This won’t happen just by marching, but by winning votes.

Guha was speaking here at the launch of the third edition of his most important book, “India After Gandhi.”

“From an objective point of view, only the Congress has a presence in eight to twelve states. So, for India to have a healthy democracy where one party doesn’t steamroll the opposition, like it did from the late 1970s until 2014, which I think would be good for all of us, it would depend a lot on the Congress becoming more competitive, he said.

Guha said that the Congress was the only party besides the BJP that ran against the BJP head-to-head in as many as 191 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. This was to prove his point.

He said that the same thing would happen in the 2024 general elections because parties like the JD(U), AAP, DMK, and TMC have no chance against the BJP in states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, and Himachal Pradesh.

Guha said that the Congress only won 16 of the 191 seats, which is only 8%. He also said that the allies would be important, but it would still be “Congress plus plus.”

“So, it could be RJD and JD(U) in Bihar, NCP and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, and DMK in Tamil Nadu, which is Congress plus plus. But the Congress would have to be brought back to life,” he said.

The 64-year-old historian said that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, which just ended, won’t be enough to bring the party back to life.

“A lot depends on how they can renew themselves, not just by marching but also by getting votes,” he said.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra began on September 7 in Tamil Nadu, at Kanyakumari. It ended on January 30 in Srinagar, after going over 4,000 kilometres in 136 days.

Guha called Gandhi a “decent man,” but he wasn’t sure if he was a “capable politician” or if India needed a “fifth generation dynast,” which he thought was “morally wrong.”

“India After Gandhi,” a book with 980 pages, came out for the first time in 2007. It is said to be a masterful account of the world’s largest democracy’s pains, struggles, humiliations, and triumphs.

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