Congress veteran Karan Singh feels the needs to rearticulate party ideologies in the present situation and asserts that the party should put its act together to elect a new president. Singh, 88, who is associated with the Congress for over five decades, talks about the ongoing crisis in the party and how further delay in decision making can weaken the party. Excerpts:
The party is still to decide its next leader?
I understand that they are very cautious and they don’t want to create a crisis, but no action is also a crisis. I remember Narasimha Rao (former PM and Congress president) had a famous statement, ‘no decision is also a decision’. Here there is no decision. It is having a very demoralising effect on state units to see that nothing is happening in the centre and how they are going to get their act together.
At a time when nationalism and religion are being used to stoke emotions, how do you see the Congress headed ideologically?
We (Congress) have a well-established ideology and the only thing is that we have to rearticulate it. Democracy, sarv dharam sambhav, the welfare of minority and schedule caste, economic structure and foreign policy — these are five foundations of Congress ideology. You can call it liberal, Left liberal if you like, or liberal values enshrined in the Constitution.
The much-maligned secularism has been distorted to become anti-Hindu. It is ridiculous. In a country with 80 per cent Hindu population, it cannot possibly be anti-Hindu. If you are a national party, you can’t be. It is the way that it has been interpreted.
Secularism is an inappropriate word for it has an anti-religious connotation in the West. We should rearticulate it, and I can quote Vedas, Upanishads in its support. I don’t mean that the minority in any way be neglected. I come from a Muslim majority state and you cannot also afford to write them off, as they (BJP) have done — not a single Muslim MP.
How will the Congress re-articulate its ideologies?
(For example) their (BJP) stand on specific issues like J&K in which we are not in favour of tampering Section 370 because there are implications — emotional, constitutional, legal and psychological. The Congress has to articulate it very clearly. What we worked on all these years is not unknown.
What about the demand for Priyanka Gandhi to lead the party?
She did an Indira Gandhi in Sonbhadra, and she wasn’t loud and aggressive but firm and composed. If they can’t find anyone else, at least she should be made. She will emerge as a good leader in coming years.