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A dangerous development: Oxfam India CEO invites Congress to form an ‘alliance’ with civil society

The Congress party is suffering a huge crisis as a consequence of its great defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. At such a critical juncture for the party, the CEO of Oxfam India appears to be inviting the Congress party to engage in a quid pro quo deal with civil society.

Amitabh Behar, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Oxfam India, recently wrote a fawning article on the Congress party. In the article, Behar offers numerous sermons to the Congress party and eulogizes its idea of India.

It’s extremely troubling as Oxfam is an international organization with interests that do not appear to align with the national interests of our country. That an international organization that claims to be an ordinary Non-Government Organization is directly interfering with the politics of the country should ring alarm bells at the highest echelons of power.

Behar’s article displays blatant political partisanship as he eulogizes the Congress party while demonizing the current ruling dispensation. It’s also a foreign-funded NGO registered under the FCRA Act with registration number 231661035. That the CEO of Oxfam India is directly attempting to influence the politics in the country sets a dangerous precedent as international organizations and hostile countries could use FCRA NGOs to influence the outcomes of Indian elections. It is a threat to the sovereignty of the country and has profound implications for our national interests as well.

Behar says of the Congress, “The Congress has been a banyan tree of ideas under which a broad range of multiple and even diverse ideas have been nurtured and nourished as long as they have a common core ethos—which is in line with the fundamentals of the ideological frame of the Congress and the idea of India.”

The CEO of Oxfam also argues that the Congress party should work closely with “civil society”, a euphemism for foreign-funded NGOs and others that have close ties with ‘Urban Naxals’. He argues that Congress should enter an “alliance” with civil society and reach out to such organizations with “due humility” to ensure the revival of the party.

He writes, “It is evident that a robust civil society needs an enabling environment in which their primary right to exist and civic right of association or function is not stifled. With this backdrop, the Congress would benefit significantly by working in close or loose coordination (or alliance) with civil society, which can strongly help in amplifying the issues of the common and marginalized people. This could revive the movement space of the Congress by foregrounding people’s issues and also help in mass action. On the other hand, the Congress must with due humility reach out to civil society and adopt/imbibe the people’s agenda and build traction for the core issues of poverty, exclusion and development.”

It is important to remember that the Congress party has allied with foreign-funded organizations inimical to Indian national interests in the past. For instance, people associated with foreign-funded organizations were part of the National Advisory Council committee that drafted the anti-Hindu Communal Violence Bill.

The Congress party is suffering a huge crisis as a consequence of its great defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. At such a critical juncture for the party, the CEO of Oxfam India appears to be inviting the Congress party to engage in a quid pro quo deal with civil society.

In its desperation, if the Congress party does decide to ally with such organizations, it will provide an opportunity for international institutions to interfere with the democratic process of India. It could have grave consequences for our country and it ought to concern every citizen of this country regardless of their political orientation. The Government of India, too, ought to follow the matter closely and take steps to ensure that the sovereignty of our country isn’t compromised by international organizations.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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