Opposition parties generally raise the exhortation to overthrow BJP which poses a severe threat to India’s secular democracy, in the in the assembly elections in five states which began with the Chhattisgarh polling and also in the the Lok Sabha election due in the first half of next year.
Party president Rahul Gandhi has been reiterating that Congress which claims to be the largest secular party of the country, is ready for any adjustment for the grand alliance. Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu who entered the scene to bring the opposition parties together in a line, met West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata the other day and held discussions to achieve his mission. Although the date he had fixed for a crucial conclave of Opposition parties was postponed, he has expressed optimism that another date convenient for all parties will be fixed and the grand alliance will in any way come into being. The parties failed to reach such an agreement for the ongoing assembly elections; the failure of the Congress in matters of seat sharing with regional parties also became a setback. However, the Congress has positive hopes that the prospects of unity in the Parliament election still remain. Although total unity is an almost distant possibility, if the Congress and the secular parties stand united, the moves to tackle the NDA are likely to succeed to an extent.
However, some hard realities cannot be lost sight of at this time. And the important question here is how credible the claims of Congress are regarding its democratic secularist credentials. The Congress believes, and tries to make every one believe that in Madhya Pradesh, dream of the BJP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan's, who is in the fray for its fourth term, will not blossom. But one cannot avoid verifying what kind of secularism the Congress is projecting there. One of the electoral promises of that party is that it will build a factory to make cow dung cake and a beverage of cow's urine, and provide a grave yard for dead cows. And it promises to establish a 'department of spirituality' in the government too! In its zeal to prove it has more Hindutva than sangh parivar, these promises are not the only ridiculous things about the Congress. The brother-in-law of chief minister Shivraj Chauhan, a BJP leader till yesterday, and husband of the sister of a notoriously corrupt Chauhan, Sanjay Singh has joined Congress and is trying his hand with the hand symbol of Congress. Chief Minister Chauhan may be in the comfort that even if his party comes to lose the election, he will get a reliable brother-in-law to take care of his and his wife's interests! When Sanjay Singh says that he does not see any difference between Congress and BJP and that he is contesting on Congress ticket with the blessings of the party in which he has been working for the past 13 years, even a microscope will fail to show the difference between the two.
Coming to Kerala, we have to examine the take of the Congress in the raging controversy regarding Sabarimala, and in the moves to shamelessly use religion for political ends. The decision to allow entry of women in the age group of 10-50 is a judgement of the Supreme Court. One of the first to welcome that was Congress President Rahul Gandhi. But the miserable picture in the midst of all the furore here is that the Congress leadership is groping in the dark. If the party takes a stand that in the current circumstances the implementation of the Court's decision has to be postponed, that is understandable. But when the Congress working president K Sudhakaran repeats the same words of BJP national president Amit Shah, what are the people to make of it? What Sudhakaran says is also that courts should not issue impractical orders. At the same time, KPCC does not disown him to the effect that it is only his personal opinion. Thus, one can't blame skeptics who wonder whether the party is moving from a position of resisting extreme Hindutva with soft Hindutva, to a monumental folly of facing it with extreme Hindutva itself. If fighting Hindutva has to be done from a secular platform, mere claims will not suffice to prove that. It should be reflected in practice as political stances.