New Delhi: Historian Ramachandra Guha on Tuesday said that to “revive” healthy democracy in India in which one party does not steamroll the Opposition, a lot depends on the Congress becoming more competitive, which won’t happen merely through a march but by winning votes.
Guha was speaking at the launch of the third edition of his seminal work, “India After Gandhi”, here.
“Objectively, it is only the Congress that has a footprint, shall we say, in eight to 12 states. So to have healthy democracy in which one party does not steamroll the Opposition, the kind that India experienced from the late 1970s till 2014, to revive that, to restore it, which I believe would be very good for all of us, it would depend a lot on the Congress becoming more competitive,” he claimed.
To buttress his point, Guha spoke about how among all other parties it was Congress that fought the BJP head-to-head in as many as 191 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
He claimed the same would happen in the 2024 general elections because parties like JD(U), AAP, DMK, and TMC stand no chance against the BJP in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, and Himachal Pradesh.
The Congress won 16 out of the 191 seats with a success rate of eight percent only, Guha said, adding the allies would have an important role to play but then it will be “Congress plus plus” only.
“So, it could be RJD plus JD(U) in Bihar, NCP and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, DMK in Tamil Nadu, which is Congress plus. But it would have to be the revival of the Congress,” he elaborated.
Referring to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s recently concluded Bharat Jodo Yatra, the 64-year-old historian said the revival of the party won’t happen “merely through a march”.
“A lot depends on how they can revitalize itself (themselves), not merely through a march but by winning votes,” he said.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra, which started from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7, concluded in Srinagar on January 30 after covering over 4,000 kilometers in 136 days.
Terming Gandhi a “decent man”, Guha said there is a question mark on him being a “capable politician” or on whether India deserves a “fifth generation dynast” but he believes it is “morally wrong”.
“India after Gandhi”, a 980-page tome, was first released in 2007. It is touted to be a magisterial account of the pains, struggles, humiliations, and glories of the world’s largest democracy.