The New Indian Political Dialogue

The recently concluded three-day long brain storming session by the main national party in India to deliberate over party policy and leadership for forthcoming national Parliament Elections in 2014 – known as Chintan Shivir – will be etched in people’s memory for years to come. This is for two reasons: Elevation of Rahul Gandhi as party vice president and his candid speech.

The nation witnessed a stellar historic address at the Congress Chintan Shivir. The event began on the note to rethink and realign the work culture of the ruling party. The elevation of Rahul Gandhi to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Vice President, juxtaposed with his speech definitely leaves for some issues to be pondered over as we deliberate Indian politics.

These two events are of immense political significance for the ruling party which has been at the receiving end of the opposition’s diatribe for a while now. This session not only injected a fresh impetus into party ranks with the promotion of its most charismatic face, but also laid clear guidelines for its leaders. This write-up intends to usher in a line of thought over the deeper meanings attached with that address and the need to learn from it.

Rahul Gandhi’s phrase “power is poison” is one of the boldest pronouncements in recent times. His speech introduced a new Rahul Gandhi to the world. It unleashed a bold, mature and extremely wise politician who is also forthright and compassionate. He not only outlined the road-map to take on impending challenges, but also openly acknowledged the problems the party is grappling with. His speech marks a new era in congress where the party leader himself is exhorting his members to overcome a symbol of bossism in India known as the “laal batti” fetish.

Politics is an act of gradual evolution. It was indeed remarkable to witness how he has meticulously learned the tough game of politics with his induction into party eight years ago. Party politics is a hard-hitting game of unlimited demands but limited supply, with its own ups and downs at time of every electoral battle from the third tier of Panchayats (grassroots democracy) to the central level, juxtaposed with the complex heterogeneous structure of the Indian Union.

It is essential to comprehend how he has learned all this over time. This is a message for those hundreds of thousands in young India, aspiring not only in politics, but in other realms like cinema, arts, sports, medicine and management that perseverance and patience pays off. One has to carefully observe and learn the rules of the game, and then take the larger plunge.

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Growth and development happen sensing the mood of the tide of the time. Perhaps Indian leaders like Indira Gandhi could do that in case of bank nationalization, green revolution, or in Rajiv Gandhi’s case of the IT revolution and Sonia Gandhi’s case of the Right to Information Act.

Today no matter which unruly and delinquent situation we imagine India in, in case of poverty, corruption, and naxalism (anti-state violence), the very fact that our country has witnessed successful electoral democracy and constitution for last sixty years is indeed soothing and comforting.

Democracy also carries huge expectations from the people. The task becomes complex when one considers India’s enormous population contrasted with its limited resources. At this hour, this is where the challenge of a public representative becomes tough. This irony of perplexing political process was rightly read by Rahul Gandhi with the realist lens as he questioned the centralization of power.

When we hear stories of even India’s brightest brains not being able to advance to administrative careers, the sad narratives of marginalization experienced by women and minorities, among others certainly cast a bleak picture over our future. These procedures and approaches rightly call for a new definition over the structure and classification of the affairs of our polity.

Changed contexts need new scripts. India is no different here. Today India has moved in all realms, from a one party dominant state to a multiparty coalition era, from a centrally planned economy to free market capitalism. Its new horizons of soft power, cultural diplomacy, rise of information and technology, and new forms of media represent powerful positive change .

The nation has to define new aspects of politics and Rahul Gandhi’s speech indeed is a move in the right direction. It aptly sets the motion for a democratic political process where the systems needs to be accountable to a new vigilant India.

Dr. Amna Mirza is an Assistant Professor in Political Studies at a College in University of Delhi. Read more articles by Amna.