Excerpts: Rahul’s brilliant interaction - with Professor Ashutosh Varshney, faculty, and students...
Part 3 - Topic: electoral autocracy.

Here I am presenting the gist or essence of this conversation without diluting the spirit and beauty of its contents.
Two of the leading non-governmental agencies that rate or assess democratic health in the world the Freedom House and the V-Dem Institute in Sweden, both have downgraded Indian democracy. Freedom House calls India now ‘partly free’; V-Dem terms it as ‘Electoral autocracy’.
V-dem Institute following political science & its own research says that when democratic polities start attacking civil liberties, then civil society Institutions and then independent Institutions then the next step is typically an attack on the integrity of elections itself.
1. Do you agree with their assessments?
2. Are you concerned that integrity of elections might also be attacked before long?

These foreign institutions, of course, have their view. Frankly, we don't need a stamp from them but the direction they are saying is correct.
I would say they are much behind the curve.
Firstly, I think the situation is actually much worse than they mention.
Secondly, you cannot separate electoral democracy from institutional frameworks. An election is not simply people going and pressing a button on voting machine.
An election is about narrative; it is about institutions that make sure that the framework in the country is operating properly; it is about a judiciary that is being fair; it is about a debate that is taking place in Parliament. So you need those things for the vote to count.
Saddam Hussein and Gadaffi used to have elections. It is to win them. They were actually voting. It was not that they were not voting but there was no Institutional Framework to protect that vote.
India will find that it is actually much further down the curve than all think.
I see, so if anything you are saying Freedom House and V- Dem institute are behind the curve, the situation is much worse.

Yeah and I am saying this sequence that you first attack this then attack the vote; I am saying you don't need to attack the vote.
With modern technology, if you control WhatsApp and you control Facebook, you do not need to attack the vote. Why would you do something like that? Leave that alone. You control the narrative anyway.
The head of Facebook in India everybody knows is a BJP person.
One girl recently left the Congress party, went to Facebook. They found that out; she had a job contract; (said) ‘Sorry, you can't come’. She is crying at my door; so you know this is it.

So, you don't need to attack the vote. But they might actually say dispense with it.
But you can destroy an electoral democracy in the 21st century if you have got Facebook, WhatsApp, financial dominance & if you control the institutions.

Why would not you let people just go & vote?
Why would not you just keep that pretence?
Why does it harm you?
No problem.
The contents like the above that Rahul now more often speaks about and provides in the public platform is full of truth, logic and sense.

This should help Congress workers, supporters, and even leaders.

Your comments, opinion are welcome.

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More from @ganesan312

25 Mar
This thread is another brief extract of Rahul’s online interactions with Professor Ashutosh Varshney, faculty, and students...

The contents are very valuable, important to reproduce and record in text format.
Such contents will help to educate people and perhaps many INCians.
Q: Assault on institutions -
Are you, in particular, referring to the Judiciary or some other independent institutions?


I am telling you every single institution. There is not a single institution that is not under this type of assault.
To give you some nuance, my mic is switched off in parliament. In the middle, while I am giving a speech it is switched off. So the essence of parliament is that I am allowed to speak, the essence of parliament is that when I am speaking the country can see what I am saying.
Read 10 tweets
24 Mar
This thread is a brief extract of Rahul’s online interactions with Professor Ashutosh Varshney, faculty, and students...

Rarely one comes across an impromptu, spontaneous interaction that contains such a brilliant, concise, unadulterated truth, full of sense and nothing else.
You argued ‘politics in India have become a fight for India not just a fight for power’.
Biden before elections in 2020 argued ‘it was not about a change in power in Washington it was about soul of America’.
Is your claim similar to Biden’s claim or substantially different?

To me, India is many different diverse viewpoints, many different languages, different cultures, different histories, different ideas. Modern India to me is essentially an ongoing negotiation between those ideas, those cultures.
Read 12 tweets
22 Mar
Rahul now draws his power not as a member of the ‘dynasty’ but from the family of Congress cadres, supporters and most of its leaders.

He is strong-willed; shouldering the cross and hope of all. He is taking the bull by its horns with emphatic, forceful, forthright views.
Rahul undertakes Townhall type interactions with diverse sections of people, Congress youth wing, apart from open intellectual discussions with eminent personalities, educationists, experts.

It is possible for him to elevate it to include party cadres, leaders. It is needed.
The direct channels for interactions, discussions with people and party cadres, leaders, supporters in an appropriate format including Townhall type will set the change in Congress.
His down to earth messages of truth earns respect of all.
Not many in politics can match Rahul.
Read 10 tweets
21 Mar
If one believes in Congress principles, policies and become its member then they should know that everyone is equal before the organisation to voice opinions, ideas and make contributions for its growth.
It does not become a right to demand power, position for their growth.
The basic human failings of egos, importance, aspirations, parity in power/ position do exist. But it raises to an ugly pitch due to organisational weaknesses, absence of active, failproof, impartial mechanisms for making decisions, solving disputes, enforcing disciplines.
The sad truth is that most of the Congress leaders are suffering from these failings. We cannot send everyone to a ‘correctional course’.
Congress is also to share the blame for not correcting its course when the deviations went unnoticed, uncorrected and nearly unmanageable.
Read 6 tweets
20 Mar
Groups within Congress get active only when organisational structure is weak as its principles, system got eroded overtime. Congress should revive, restructure, reinforce its strengths but not due to the demands, threats of groups but to fight, overcome their destructive ways.
The advent of a new strain of power politics five decades back introduced the tool of polarisation of people on every visible crack.

This changed political dynamics and priorities before the nation. It has to be corrected for the survival of our democracy and also Congress.
Congress is not just a political party but it is a movement which many of the present generations may not be aware of.

Congress still represents basic ethos, culture, aspirations of people democratically within the constitutional structure and spirit it created.
Read 5 tweets
17 Mar
This narration is not a chart of measures for the consideration of the new President of INC. It is only a brief outlook about issues involved and the need for its leaders, cadres to extend support to their President to uphold the supremacy of their organisation and its system.
A gist or bullet points for measures to be initiated may not carry the weight when presented by an outsider. Brevity will not convey its need, impact. The details, justifications should form part of the suggestions. It will not be complete without interactions in a platform.
We have unlimited talents, vision to contribute to such a platform. The ideas, the spark may be small or big but how it is developed, evolved, consolidated to near perfection with free interactions, discussions are more pertinent, essential. A team with total focus is needed.
Read 8 tweets

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