Thursday, 27 February 2014

Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi

Dear Mr. Gandhi,

This is a letter from a common man who has lived all but 8 of his thirty odd years in Congress ruled India. Like millions of fellow Indians, I'm one of those who until not too long ago, believed that you would bring a positive change to the political scene in India. That is why I voted for your party in the national as well as (Maharashtra) state level elections in 2009- a fact I deeply regret... but that's for another day. 

I'm writing this letter to open your eyes to reality Mr. Gandhi. Whether or not you realise it, the credibility of you and your party right now is absolutely zero. The points you raised in your interactive session in Gannaur on Monday will amply illustrate my point. 

You mentioned that the BJP indulges in divisive politics. How about your own party Mr. Gandhi? Let's set aside the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, about which so much has been said and written that I have nothing new to add. How about the anti-Muslim pogroms in Bhagalpur in 1989, which happened under the watch of your party? The inquiry commission blamed several officers for their failure to stop the violence. What did the Congress government (and the subsequent ones under your ally Lalu Prasad Yadav) do to bring the  guilty persons to book? Precisely nothing. Irony of ironies, the government that finally acted on it was a coalition of which the BJP was a part!

Fast forward three years to the 1992-93 communal riots in Mumbai, when your party was in power in Maharashtra.The vast majority of victims of those riots (Hindus and Muslims alike) still await justice because the government of Maharashtra is yet to act on the recommendations of the Justice Shrikrishna Committee. Strangely the same Government acted promptly to protect a policeman accused of murdering innocent victims belonging to another community in broad daylight (you party was in power then). Mind you, we're talking about a state where the Congress has governed uninterrupted since independence (baring a short period of 4 years between 1995 and 1999).

Since you have raked up the issue of divisive politics played by your opposition party, how does one reconcile it with the fact that the percentage of Muslims out of the total number of undertrials in Maharashtra is much higher than in neighbouring Gujarat, which has been governed since 13 years by the supposedly communal BJP? Statistically, 33% of the undertrials in Maharashtra are Muslims, even though their community constituted just 11% of the total population of the state as per the 2001 census.

Its been but a few days since the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde- a veteran leader of your party- wrote a letter to all state Chief Ministers asking to ensure that no Muslim youth is wrongfully detained in terror cases. As it happens, Mr. Shinde served nearly 2 years as the chief minister of Maharashtra, a state whose record in terms of justice to minorities is abysmal, as I've just shown. When a person like that proclaims you as the leader, you can imagine how it reflects on your credibility when you denounce the communal tendencies of others.

What makes it worse still is the fact that the only state with a higher percentage of Muslim undertrials is West Bengal, governed by Trinamool Congress, which was your party's coalition partner not so long ago. Why, other states where the disparity between the rates of detention of Muslims and numbers actually convicted include Assam & Meghalaya (both governed by your party) and Uttar Pradesh (governed by SP, whose outside support has kept the UPA afloat). In short, nearly all the states where malafide detention of Muslims appear to be the highest are governed either by the Congress or its allies, many of whom profess to support your party to keep communal forces at bay! Did I hear someone talking about running with the hare and hunting with the hounds?

You also spoke about the Congress wanting power to trickle down to the people. That gives rise to two questions: (a) how you plan to achieve that ambition and (b) why the Congress still 'wants' to do it. It has been in power at the centre (singly or in coalition) for 54 out of 67 years since independence. When after more than half a century in power your party is still talking of greater devolution of authority with no concrete proposals yet, don't you think it sounds like hollow talk?

You don't even need to go elsewhere, take a look at yourself. You owe your position to family lineage. You were not voted to the position you hold and I see no real action on your part to devolve power within your own party. In short a person who inherited the leadership of a party which has never held internal elections is telling us that his party wants to work towards greater devolution of power to the people. Do you seriously imagine that anyone is going to believe it?

Lastly, lets come to your claim that the Congress helps farmers. Ever heard the term 'cruel joke' Mr. Gandhi? It took me all of 2 seconds to find this article on farmer suicides in Maharashtra, or this article stating that a farmer in Andhra Pradesh is three times more likely to commit suicide than anyone else in the country. What's common between the two states? Both have been governed by your party since at least a decade now. While farmer suicides indeed happen in Mr. Modi's state, the number has been estimated at 125 for the five year period between 2008-2013, about a ninth of the corresponding number for Maharashtra in 2012-13 alone. In short, for every one farmer who commits suicide in Gujarat, there are 45 who do so in a state governed by your party!

All that I've written above is in response to the points you raised in one single address and believe me, it took very little effort for me to unearth the facts. If this is the level of credibility you carry, why should anyone believe that you and your party are capable of responsibly governing the country for 5 long years? Mind you, I've not even touched upon the the appalling poverty that still prevails in India after over half century of Congress rule.

Whatever sycophants in your party might tell you, I assure you no one believes a word you say anymore. If you truly care for your own credibility or that of your party, there's an awful lot of work to be done. A bit of honest self introspection would be a good starting point.


An anonymous Indian

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