We all know that the fortunes of the Congress party are evaporating by tons every minute. If recent elections are any guide, the party does not seem to be making any headway come 2024.
No wonder its leaders are moving on to other political cohorts.
The pressure on the family – almost synonymous with party, the Gandhis cannot be over accentuated. That in my mind explains why from time to time, strange utterances without any real political dividends guarantee are delivered by the only legitimate (read optical) heir to the throne – Rahul Gandhi.
Yes, I am referring to his expression – “India is a union of states”.
First, he said this on February 2 in the parliament. Apart from the momentary clapping albeit half-hearted from his own cronies, he did not get far to generate the debate or headlines wanted.
From the sundry intellectual who may in their spare time take this utterance seriously, comprehensive rebuttals were generated.
But Rahul Gandhi does not stop.
Also read: Rahul Gandhi dares Arvind Kejriwal
He has done it again – this time in Cambridge where he was sat in conversation with Dr Shruti Kapila – as part of India celebrating 75 years of Independence.
To meet his nemesis, Rahul Gandhi came face to face with an ITRS officer Siddharth Verma who comprehensive took him to task on the expression and placed his encounter on social media.
Siddharth Verma shared the video on Twitter. Posting the video, Siddharth tweeted that, “Yesterday, in Cambridge, I questioned Mr. Rahul Gandhi on his statement that ‘India is not a nation but a Union of States’. He asserted that India is not a nation but the result of negotiation between states. (His complete response will be shared once uploaded by organisers)”.
In the video, Siddharth told Rahul Gandhi that, “You have cited Article 1 of the Constitution to say that India is a union of states on the basis of the Constitution. If you go one page first and see the preamble, it is clearly written that India is a nation. India itself is one of the oldest living civilizations and the word has its origin in the Vedas and we are a very old civilization”.
He further said that, “Even when Chanakya had discussed with the students in Taxila, he also clarified that they may come from different districts, but in the end they belong to India.”
Rahul Gandhi intervened, ‘Did he use the word nation?’
Siddharth said he (Chanakya) had used the word ‘nation’ (Rashtra).
Rahul intervened again, ‘The nation is an empire’.
Siddharth explained, “No, Rashtra is the Sanskrit word for nation.”
Holding his nerve against an entire antagonistic audience, Siddharth asked Rahul Gandhi, “Don’t you think that your view of India as a politician is not only wrong, but also destructive, as it tries to hide the history of thousands of years”?
While Siddharth Verma won accolades for his valour, and earned the wrath of Rahul Gandhi fans and Congress followers, the simple question that should bother every Indian including the Congress followers – What is Rahul Gandhi’s agenda in raising this? What will he or the Congress party achieve?
Bharat Times spoke to Siddharth Verma in Cambridge over Zoom and asked him the question. This is what he said:
“Well, when you look at India, because of India’s diversity, different states, you always have this idea that India being an ancient country. The glue that binds these states together, is much older than 1947. But what this idea does, and what some people who peddle this idea can have in mind, is that with this idea, you can have states and regional identities, you know, as the primary identity in the country, rather than a national identity.
“Now, this leads to a lot of problems, it leads to separatism, it leads to a lack of attachment with the idea of a nation a lack of attachment with party data, and a lack of attachment with the common cultural ethos and values of the country. So going forward, India needs to be together, and we have to protect the unity and sovereignty of India. And this idea absolutely takes us away from it. And so, you know, it’s incredibly destructive for anyone to actually go go ahead and spearhead this kind of movement.”
In plain language, the idea that Rahul Gandhi is peddling has the potential of endangering the unity and sovereignty of India.
India does have its problems of separatist movements in Jammu and Kashmir. The Khalistani movement is on the rise again. There are issues in West Bengal with mass movement of people out of the state. And all is not well in Maharashtra either with its most important city Mumbai having been infiltrated by Pakistani terrorists in open daylight to deliver 26/11.
On the reverse, it has no other dividend which can be seen in any way, shape or form as positive.
The Congress party has been selling the idea of reversing the abrogation of Articles 35A and 370.
Is this idea of Rahul Gandhi Indian – not being a nation but a union of states – connected to that?
“Well definitely, and funnily enough, he (Rahul Gandhi) also mentioned the article 370. And how the government just brought it unilaterally… and how it was removed in an anti-democratic process… in which the government removed it, and are at the main issue behind that with 370 was to integrate Jammu and Kashmir”, Siddharth Verma added.
Is Rahul Gandhi trying to mobilize people in various states to rise against the Modi government?
“Well, coming back to your earlier question, I think it’s very much connected to this one of why this narrative is being peddled. I would take you back to history, the British came up with the Aryan invasion theory, at one point, trying to divide North Indians from South Indians, you know, creating an Aryan Dravidian divide. And then you had the same theory being used to create a divide between the indigenous tribes and the others. The same theory was then used to divide people among different castes. Then they came up with the divide and rule theory.
“The reason I caution is that these ideas have an impact on people if they’re not challenged. It divides people among states, among religions among cast someone, you know, different kinds of theories, people have more regional identities.
“I think that this theory actually brings people back to regional identities. You’ve had the language issue in the southern states, you have seen in Tamil Nadu, there’s been a revival of a language debate, in which they say, you know, that the central government is trying to impose Hindi and elections have been fought on those issues.
“This kind of movement brings a lot of polarization within the country. What the statement does is it divides people on different lines on regions on regional identities”, Siddharth Verma added.
Such sermonizing then, on the part of Rahul Gandhi – a leader who wants to be the prime minister of India one day, questions the motive, if not his mental health or maturity.
Why on earth, a leader, a former president of a national party – the Congress party would go down that path?
Does he know what he says and does he know what that means?
In my considered view and for India’s sake we need a healthy and strong opposition to keep the ruling party accountable for what it does. With current set of advisors and the electoral deficits suffered all over India, the least Rahul Gandhi can do is to – look for new talent in his advisory panel.