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Congress’s missed opportunities: a call to action

Congress’s missed opportunities: a call to action

The news of Indian National Congress being at a standstill on various critical political issues is now widely discussed in the media. One of them is the stand regarding the consecration of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. The common concern among secular groups is that there is no clarity of opinion or consensus on this issue either at the national level or among the leaders of Kerala. The departure from the Nehruvian vision has done no small damage to the firmness of opinion and ideology of the Congress at the national level. No one can pretend to be blind to the growing anxieties among millions of people who put faith and hope in the Congress. The pity is that religion and caste are used as basis for evaluating the views expressed on the Ram temple issue in Ayodhya and for directing trolls at them. Sam Pitroda, known as the father of India’s telecommunication revolution, shared this thought with me recently, based on his own experience. For the top leaders of BJP are circulating the view that it is because Sam is a Christian that he said faith and religion are personal matters and politics should not be mixed in the Ram temple issue. Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda, who was born to a Gujarathi family in Odisha, was laughing when he said this. At the same time, some of the Congress leaders too are deliberately trying to distance themselves from the statement of Sam Pitroda - who is also the Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress - saying that his words do not constitute the opinion of the party. However, the positions taken by senior Congress leaders and former presidents of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, Mullapally Ramachandran, VM Sudheeran, and K Muralidharan MP on the Ram Temple issue are clear and precise.

EVM manipulation

During the last Lok Sabha elections, there was a lot of criticism about Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and the credibility of the election process itself was being challenged due to the possibility of EVMs being tampered with. However, there was no effective intervention from the opposition parties, including the Congress. The Citizens Commission on Elections (CCE), which comprised retired judges, former civil servants, university professors, senior journalists and activists, released a report on January 30, 2021, questioning the reliability of EVMs. The committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur, proposed that all VVPATs should be counted along with votes. This report was prepared after discussions with experts in the field, including Alok Chaudhary of Northwestern University, USA, and Purvi L. Vora and Bhagirath Narahari of George Washington University, USA. But for some reason, there was no strong intervention from the opposition on this subject.

The words of Sam Pitroda, who is also one of the world’s leading voices on applied science and technology, have once again reignited the debate over the reliability of EVMs. He says that there is a possibility of tampering with EVM machines and if the related issues are not resolved, BJP can win more than 400 seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Pitroda also asserts that if the Election Commission gives him one of the EVMs for a few weeks, he can prove whether it is rigged or can be rigged. He also demanded that the recommendations put forward by the CCE should be implemented on the issue of EVMs. In the wake of Pitroda’s disclosure, Congress needs to take up this as a serious issue. The party should follow it up based on the responsible suggestion of Pitroda, who pioneered India’s telecom revolution and is a member of the Cyber Security Advisory Committee of the University of Chicago.

The consolidation of INDIA front

The birth of the INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) front raised a lot of hope among the secular Indian community. It is certain that if Congress, which bears the legacy and spirit of India's nationalist movement, can bring the alliance together with singleness of purpose and move forward with that tempo, it will be possible to put an end to the communal fascist rule that is hurting the very soul of the nation. However, the unity of INDIA front got shaken at a point due to the stubbornness of a few leaders in the elections to the North Indian state legislatures. This led to the loss of winnable seats and consequently governance eluded the alliance in those states. If the Congress and the other opposition parties of INDIA front are not ready to fulfill their responsibility, the party and also the country will have to pay a heavy price in the 2024 elections.

(The author is Middle East Convenor of Indian Overseas Congress)

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TAGS:CongressSam PitrodaINDIA allianceArticleRam Temple consecrationEVM manipulation
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