‘For the first time, I was not so sure that the survival of an idea could be taken for granted. But I was sure of one thing: the battle to salvage it, whether in whole or in part, had to be fought.’
Since May 2014, under a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party, it appears that the Nehruvian—read liberal, secular, scientific—Idea of India has come utterly undone. Institutions of governance that had weathered great turbulence in the past seem to be disintegrating. The economy, once the celebrated ‘India story’, is in a shambles due to self-inflicted blows. Large sections of the media genuflect in cringe-worthy surrender to the ruling dispensation. Two hundred million Indians are being repeatedly reminded about their irrelevance in the new political narrative. Meanwhile, the grand old party of India flounders on unfamiliar territory—trapped in its past and unsure about its future.
Sanjay Jha, long-time Congress spokesperson, now suspended from the party for his outspokenness against it, takes a long, hard look at what all of this means for the future of India. What are the reasons for the Congress’s acute lack of oppositional ability? Is a resurrection of this seemingly somnolent giant even possible? What would it entail? Can the party look beyond the easy fallback of the Gandhi-family charisma and embrace transformational change? Can it sell its vision—of inclusive growth and social justice—to a nation that seems mesmerised by hate?
Even as he asks tough questions of the government and his party, Jha has not lost faith in Mahatma Gandhi’s India. He writes of renewal, of hope. And the Congress, he firmly believes, is central to that revival of India.