THERE IS A well known adage – power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Corruption doesn’t mean just the illegal taking or giving money or giving contracts and deals. It also includes using the power to hunt down or even threaten critics of the government and the members of opposition parties.
India prides itself as the largest democracy and rightly so but there are constant threats to democratic ideals by whosoever is in power. The present government is no exception and perhaps it has been misusing its powers much more than what was done its predecessors.
Agencies like the Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax and the Central Bureau of Investigation have been weaponised like never before. Arbitrary decisions are imposed on the public and bills are passed without adequate debate in Parliament and outside.
It is to counter such threats to democracy that the nation needs a strong and constructive opposition. Unfortunately for the last almost 10 years the opposition has been weakened and the primary blame for this sorry state of affairs must lie with the Indian National Congress (INC) which remains the main opposition party with an all India footprint.
All other political parties, including Aam Aadmi Party, have limited reach although all such parties are also very much needed for a thriving democracy.
Of late, the Congress is showing some signs of revival and although it has to go a very long distance even to become a viable and credible opposition, the recent developments have given some hopes of it providing an affective opposition at the national level and strengthening its position at the level of states.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra undertaken by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi did help in awaking the party members who appeared to be lying in deep slumber. It also helped in improving his own image and he appeared to be serious about politics.
And now the long awaited constitution of its highest body – the Congress Working Committee or CWC – has been finally done.
It is an exercise in balancing various factors including the entry of young leaders, representation to women, tribals and members of various other communities and even balancing the positions given to rebels and those who had threatened to rebel in the past.
That includes members of the erstwhile G-23, a group of leaders who had raised banner or revolt against the Gandhi family.
The group has become inactive following the resignation from the party by stalwarts like Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Now some remaining members or the group like Manish Tewari and Anand Sharma have been rehabilitated in the highest decision making body of the party.
There is also good balancing act done by including old guards and new faces. While retaining most senior leaders like P Chidambaram, Digvijay Singh and AK Antony, Kharge has included young leaders like Tarun Gogoi, Alka Lamba and Kanhaiya Kumar.
Even the inclusion of Shashi Tharoor, who had contested the election of party president against Kharge, sends out important signals.
Then the decision to include young leaders like Sachin Pilot and Kumari Selja is aimed at reaching out to dissidents or those nursing grudges with the central leadership of the party.
With Assembly elections due in five states before the year end and the general elections less than 10 months away, it was high time the party had put its act together. It has to keep doing the balancing act without getting into the trap or trying to please everyone.
The party is a long long way from posing a serious threat to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party which has time and again proved itself to be a well-oiled election machine, but its attempts at revival must be welcomed for the basic checks and balances in the political system of our democracy.
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