Why Conflating Congress With Liberals Is Inaccurate
The impression that the Congress party is only a bastion for liberals may be a bit of a misnomer and recent phenomena.
Two months ago, I attended an event. Post‐event an acquaintance, who was a member of the family that was hosting said event breezily informed me that those invited had been the “leftovers,” i.e., the people that had to be invited even though their presence was not desired, required or of any relevance. This remark caught me by surprise because, until then, I had assumed that this family had possessed compassion and kindness owing to their particular charitable pursuits and thoughtful gestures.
The more I pondered, the more I wondered how many others had been subject to such insouciance, if not worse, by those who deemed themselves so similarly placed. It also made me wonder about the recent outpouring of anger against liberals. By all accounts, owing to factors such as inter‐generational comfort, grade-A school education, pontificating over polito‐legal issues over meals, being anti‐communalist and supporting the Congress, this person would be considered a “liberal”.
The relevance of this anecdote is that it appears that there has been a conflation between the immense dislike for liberals similar to the above‐mentioned and the exasperation with the Indian National Congress (Congress). This conflation may be inaccurate for the following reasons.
Firstly, a liberal may be defined as someone who believes in concepts such as a just society, respect for human dignity, equality, tolerance for diversity, political and civil rights and democratic society. Those that laud their purported intellectual, social or economic superiority over others, thereby clearly negating the notion of equality and respect for human dignity are ill‐mannered charlatans. They are not liberals.
I have had the pleasure of working with and studying with the liberal‐minded, and they are the first to admonish privileged denigrating observation(s) and to acknowledge hard work. Secondly, the Congress party has been made a convenient site for the misplaced anger and rage spurred by the actions of such ill‐mannered characters. If anything, such people who purport to support the Congress possibly do so as a social cache to lend credibility to the veneer of liberality.
Lastly, the impression that the Congress party is only a bastion for liberals may be a bit of a misnomer and recent phenomena. The Congress party embraced the people of India and their problems as recently as in the 2004 elections that were won with Mrs Sonia Gandhi at the helm.
In the recent 2019 elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party won with a huge majority. This may be enough of a jolt to the Congress to consider a recalibration and to put their house in order. Endeavours could be made to move out of the shadow of being the inadvertent receptacle of rage for the acts of ill‐mannered pseudo‐liberals. Greater efforts should be made to refamiliarise itself with those that once trusted them to lead the country to understand what changed.
This is not the time to be deterred and to buckle down; this is the time to power through, level‐up and rise to the occasion. These are obstacles. The best thing about obstacles is that they are to be overcome. The death of the Congress, however, would be premature, and, frankly speaking, should be wishful thinking on the part of those who so wish it.
The author studied India’s politics, political economy, society and international relations at Oxford University and is currently working in Delhi as an advocate.