64 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
Why is Morris Jones enthusiastic about the revival of Congress dominance? The question can perhaps be answered by examining his argument about the Congress system of one party dominance. "The Congress," observes Morris Jones, "is an open-political society in which dissent is freely expressed and in which a high degree of open competition between factions is a leading feature of the party." The openness of the party was of three kinds: the movement in and out of the organization is free, it is open to other parties to compete for power; and although the opposition parties do not alternate with the Congress in the exercise of power, they interact with like-minded political sections in. the Congress.
The Congress was open both in its composition as well as in its style of functioning. The style, in particular, endeared the party to a variety of people. Moreover, its capacity to accommodate helped political integration and stability. Thus, consensual style is the key to the successful performance of the Congress in the three decades after independence.
It is undeniable that in the Nehru period, specially in the early years, the Congress functioned on the basis of "consensus.^ But the supposed consensus within the party was confined to what Michael Brecher described as "the inner group of the Congress". Leaders at the State and local levels acquiesced because it suited them to do so. Indeed, cohesion and consensus was based on calculations of power and survival of different groups. In effect, it was a system of mutual trade-offs and alliances between different classes to establish their hegemony. It was sustained through the preeminence of all-India leaders like Gandhi, Nehru and Indira Gandhi. During the Nehru era, various factions were united because capitalist development needed a stable political system which acted as a bargaining counter of various groups jockeying for power and benefits. In fact, the major function of "consensual" democracy was to ensure that the dominant groups were accommodated, without allowing any group to become too strong. But tlie expansion of the elite base incieased tensions and rivalries within the Congress, manifested in intense factionalism within tlie ruling classes.
In his analysis, Morris Jones takes into account the social base of the Congress. In his opinion, the Congress represented a variety of interests "in a society not sharply polarised in terms of class". Many other analysts of the post-independence Congress have equally uncritically accepted this view, influenced by the