Dear Mr Rahul Gandhi,
On the day of the UP election results, the general opinion was that a Congress-mukt Bharat would soon be a reality. I disagreed. I argued that the grand old party of our country could not be defined by its electoral performance. It was defined by its ethos -– founded by visionaries who toiled for the nation’s independence
To me, Congress is more than just a political party. It is a thought, an ideology that cannot be measured by the number of seats won in an election. It’s the ideology of non-violence on which this nation was built.
From Mahatma Gandhi to your great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, to your grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and your father, Rajiv Gandhi, they were the leaders who led India down this path of development.
I still believe that the spirit of Congress is alive. Your grandmother had once said:
There are moments in history when brooding tragedy and its dark shadows can be lightened by recalling great moments of the past.
This holds true with the exemplary governance demonstrated by Congress leaders in the matters pertaining to nature and the environment.
It was your great-grandfather, Panditji, who worked with Rukmini Devi Arundale, to bring about the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. At the time, it was one of the world’s most progressive animal protection legislations.
Your grandmother, Indira Gandhi, was an environmentalist. She brought in the Wildlife Protection Act, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act – which created the Pollution Control Boards at the centre and state level – and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. She also made it a fundamental duty to be compassionate to all living creatures. Your father continued the legacy and brought in the Environment (Protection) Act.
UPA 1 and UPA 2 saw a slew of animal welfare reforms, including a chapter on animal welfare in the food safety regulations – which among other things, calls for the humane slaughter of animals for food.
Today, I find myself wondering about the cause of the demise of the Congress party, and I think I have found the answer in Kerala.
When I saw the video of those young men killing a sentient being to make a political point, I realised it wasn’t just the electoral that the party had lost. The Congress had lost its moral fibre – the spirit of compassion, integrity, and nonviolence upon which the party was founded. It’s lost to us, but hopefully not irrevocably.
If you want to redeem the Congress, then instead of focusing on vote banks, work to rebuild the party on the ideology on which your father, your grandmother, your grandfather, and many inspiring Congress leaders built the party.
Make India a nation of compassion once again – a nation that treats everyone equally.
It saddens me that after the Kerala incident, your only response was to condemn the incident and suspend the party worker who was responsible for the deed.
Me and many others like me are looking at you, waiting for you to send out a message of strong leadership, rejecting such brutality and cruelty. We’re waiting for you to act in a manner that will remind us of our glorious past when it comes to compassion and conservation.
The act was illegal and the perpetrators need to be prosecuted. But as a nation, we’re looking to you to set a precedent, like your forefathers did.
Indira Gandhi once said, “Actions today mould our tomorrow.” It is time you take corrective action now. Keep the spirit of Congress alive. For our today and for tomorrow.
(Nuggehalli Jayasimha is a lawyer and an animal welfare advocate. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)