Chandigarh, Monday, June 30, 1970

Syndicate’s Dunkirk

A note of despair seems to run through the sound and fury of Congress (O). At the AICC session in Delhi, Mr. Sanjiva Reddy talked of fighting “back to the wall”. He warned the delegates that they must be prepared for sacrifice and work without any expectation of office and power. “I am telling you we will lose elections. But we should not lose our hearts,” he said. Mr. Reddy was not alone in invoking the Dunkirk spirit. The need for all that rhetoric arose from the indirect admission in the political resolution that the Congress (O) no longer had the hope of capturing power on its own steam. This is in sharp contrast to the tall talk heard earlier of replacing the ruling party by the authentic Congress soon. The Congress (R) certainly appeared to be more confident of its own strength at the AICC session held this month. There was no such talk of an election alliance or like-minded front there, ignoring Mr. C. Subramaniam’s isolated essay. The truth is that the Old Guard know that they have lost the game to the lady and hence the vitriol that marked their references to her. It remains to be seen whether pinning hopes on a “broad democratic front” is all that realistic. The Congress (O) itself is hopelessly confused with regard to ideology. The party wants to be taken as more socialist than the Congress (R) and yet one of the conditions it stipulates for an alliance is “defence of the constitutional liberties of the people.” “Constitutional liberties” is a vague term, unexceptionable to all but the Naxalites, but if it implies also the inviolability of property rights, as it appears to be in the present context, leftist parties like the SSP and PSP may not touch it with a pair of tongs. The Congress (O) concept of a democratic front is virtually an anti-communist front. Except the Jan Sangh and the Swatantra, the other parties are not likely to be enthusiastic on such a programme. 

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