How They Got Here

One Hundred and Twenty Five years of the Congress Party

01 March 2010
Mahatma Gandhi exiting a train some time in the 1940s. Gandhi always insisted on travelling in a third-class cabin.


NOT LONG AGO, I found myself in a panel discussion on television with three politicians. One was a Congress member of parliament, the second an MP from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the third the president of one of the smaller regional formations. In the course of the conversation I found reason to criticise the three netas for their sectarian stands. As the argument grew more heated, I found myself ignoring the others and turning on the Congressman in particular.

Coming out of the studio and driving home, I later reflected on this partisanship of my own. Why had I been less harsh on the others? It may have been because from them, a historian can expect no better. Despite its occasional disavowal of the Hindutva programme, the BJP is a party of bigots which detests minorities and atheists. For their part, the regional parties use the rhetoric of caste and linguistic discrimination mostly to advance the wealth and power of their leaders.

Ramachandra Guha books include India After Gandhi and An Anthropologist Among the Marxists and Other Essays. He lives in Bengaluru.

Keywords: democracy Gandhi Ramachandra Guha Obama BJP Sonia Gandhi prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru Sanjay Gandhi The Indian National Congress Madras Presidency