My father was a fairly intellligent man, he was also a qualified engineer, but his party was the Congress. He never through of voting for any other party. Just as before indipendence, he never thought beyond the king emperor if England, so, after independence, he did not think beyond the Congress was his mabaap sarkar. Q.E.D.
In my early years, I agreed with him, or, rather, submitted to his wiser and more experienced judgement. Actually, there were no other parties. There were only the socialists and the communists, which, to my thinking them, were one and the same thing.
However, as I grew older, the Congress did not seem to be all that infallible. If it had Nehru, it also had certain intolerant and perverse personalities such as Krishna Menon and Morarji Desai (by that time I had started drinking and I could not see anything right about Morarjibhai). I tried to reason with my father, but till the end he continued to be loyal to the Congress – the Congress government is the only government that is capable of looking after us, he would say.
This was not just his view, it was the view of a whole generation of people. Of millions of Muslims who did not go to Pakistan at the time of Partition, because they trusted the Congress and had faith in it. And of other minorities, who felt comfortable with the Congress. And of Hindus, millions upon millions of Hindus, who could never trust the ungodly and atheists communists.
It is not that the Congressmen were stalwarts, the repositories of wisdom, courage, sincerity and failplay, though most of them were thoroughtly honest and clean. But not stalwarts… I mean, it is difficult to think of men like Pandit Gobind Ballabh Pant, Maulana Azad, Vallabhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, as stalwarts. They were only stalwarts as compared to the present pygmies that we have, unprincipled little shopkeepers whose only interest is counting their personal profits at the end of five years. I mean, consider an intellectual Brahmin like C.D. Deshmukh as finance minister and a pusher who has been discarded from the party and is trying to make a re-entry like Pranab Mukherjee.
With all its faults, the Congress then was a political party of national stature. I can understand my father and al the people of his generation voting for it.
I do not know were and when the rot set in in the Congress. Possibly when daughters and grandsons took over from the originals and surrounded themselves with men of their own calibre.
And I do not know if the Congress will ever return to its old glory. Perhaps, I should give it one more chance by voting for it. If nothing else, it owould make my father happy.