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Read the following passage and answer the questions below:

“Patel, the organisational man of the Congress, wanted to purge the Congress of other political groups and sought to make of it a cohesive and disciplined political party. He …. sought to take the Congress away from its all-embracing character and turn it into a close-knit party of disciplined cadres. Being a ‘realist’ he looked more for discipline than for comprehension. While Gandhi took too romantic a view of “carrying on the movement,” Patel’s idea of transforming the Congress into strictly political party with a single ideology and tight discipline showed an equal lack of understanding of the eclectic role that the Congress, as a government, was to be called upon to perform in the decades to follow.” — Rajni Kothari

(a) Why does the author think that Congress should not have been a cohesive and disciplined party?

(b) Give some examples of the eclectic role of the Congress party in the early years.

(c) Why does the author say that Gandhi’s view about Congress’ future was romantic?

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Solution

a. The author basically contests Patel’s idea of making Congress a more closed-knit and a cohesive party as the author believes that would have had impacted the very existence and essence of the Congress party, which was seen synonymous with the movement and with the country. Congress should retain its original character of being a mass-based political party in order to reach out to people of the country. That adds its vibrancy and strength.

b. Congress played an eclectic role ever since its formation in spearheading the freedom struggle against the colonial yoke to dominating constituent assembly tasked with framing the Constitution of India. It was the Congress that, after independence, was involved in the nation building process, laying the foundation of a democratic system, bringing integration of princely states, reorganising states on linguistic basis and also framing economic policies so as to tread India on the path of economic development.

c. The author argues that Patel represented a more realistic view of making Congress more disciplined as it would have avoided uncalled differences and personal rivalries that also characterised the party. Gandhi’s view, instead, was more romantic who believed that the Congress must carry its legacy of being a movement, retaining its all- inclusive character by being a broad-based social and ideological coalition, which no doubt had its own flaws leading to conflict of interest.


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