At one level , it is a politics of Bhajan mandali - love vs hate . At another, it is promising social harmony for business community i.e. reassuring corporate capital that Congress will provide a more peaceful and harmonious enviornment for them to prosper !

It proudly talks of Congress having brought India to the 21st century - thereby implicitly glorifying the Manmohan Singh era of neoliberalism.

The 21st century went back on many achievements and ideals of the 20th century. It abandoned three grand projects of the preceding century: the welfare state; creation of some space for developing world emerging out of the process of decolonisation; and recognition of a New International Economic Order. A pro-people change in the balance of power between labour and capital brought about by the two revolutions of the 20th century was undone in the 21st century.

Neoliberalism peaked in the first decade of this century and is ruling the rich world and tying the poor world to its yoke.That is, in essence, what the T21st century has brought us to.

The least that Rahul Gandhi could have done is to recall his great grandfather and Subhash Chandra Bose , the towering youth leadership of the GOP in the 1930’s and the progressive Karachi Congress Resolutions. And the modern content they provided to the Idea of India. And how that very content is under severe challenge under the prevalent neoliberal ethos.

He could have also recalled his grandmother's commitment to non-alignment and to the solidarity of the third world and touched upon an outline of a possible contemporary reformulation of that project.

The fallacy from which the liberals like Rahul Gandhi are suffering is the conviction that their message of social harmony is adequate to counter the innate contradictions and crises facing the people everywhere -in the rich world as well as well as the poor.

Nowhere does Rahul Gandhi show any awareness that neoliberal policies have spawned the current contradictions and crises: the agrarian and unemployment crises staring us in the face and the all- party fetishism of the lifeless statistic of jobless growth ! And it is these crises and contradictions that BJP is adroitly using to push its agenda of hatred. Nay, it is only by pushing the agenda of hatred that the neoliberal policies can be sustained as long as possible in the face of the developing crises and contradictions. BJP realises this better than the wishy-washy leadership of the Opposition.

All Rahul Gandhi has to say is that Congress has the experience, the expertise and the humane approach which is missing in the BJP !

This is the tragedy of a liberal thought process. Its intentions are praiseworthy. But its reasoning is infantile. It stops short of radicalism , dreams of progress and harmony and glosses over the real challenge. It compromises with the real enemy. It creates an image of fighting for peace and harmony while it is too frightened or muddled-headed to see through the appearances and grasp the reality.

(S.P.Shukla is a senior bureaucrat, retired as Union Finance Secretary)