India’s changing political landscape

Flag of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a na...

Flag of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a national political party in India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Sonia Gandhi, Indian politician, pres...

English: Sonia Gandhi, Indian politician, president of the Indian National Congress and the widow of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. Français : Sonia Gandhi, une femme politique indienne, présidente du parti du congrès indien, et veuve de Rajiv Gandhi, ancien premier ministre de l’Inde. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Kuldip Nayar

The Bhartiya Janata Party seems to have a tryst with doom. In the wake of scams and scandals in the Congress-run government, the BJP was gaining ground. Its performance in Parliament was comparatively better and its younger leadership assertive and more meaningful. But once again, the RSS men have been riding the party that has brought it back to square one.

First Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi joined issued with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the concept of secularism and then RSS played the Hindutava card. Both have scotched even the remotest chance of BJP returning to power. A person who has his hands tainted with the blood of Muslims cannot be projected as India’s next PM. Nor can the false clothes of culture hide the real face of adherents to Hindu Rashtriya concept.

The BJP has, by and large, remained quiet. One if its leaders has spoken out of turn and questioned the very concept of secularism. But he was hushed up quickly. It seems that the party did delude itself with the idea that the Hindu voters were beginning to own the RSS philosophy. The BJP should have learnt the lesson in 2009 when it was all set to win but lost to the Congress.

Political parties, including the Congress, do not understand the new electorate, mostly young. It is liberal in outlook and hates to mix religion with politics. This was the ethos which the nation adopted during the independence struggle and after freedom as a pole star under the leadership of Mahatama Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

True, regional chauvinism, which is co-terminus with caste and community in certain states, is rearing its ugly head. This is because the centre looks confused and equivocal when it comes to enunciate policies which demand secular credentials. Having little feedback from the field, New Delhi continues to monopolise power and fails to appreciate that the de-centralisation would infuse life among the people in a state. Regional aspirations have got a new edge in the past years and the locals are fired with confidence that they can sort out their problems themselves and find a consensus quicker than the remote New Delhi does.

This is the reason why Trinamul Congress won in West Bengal and Samajwadi Party in UP. The voters found the parties closer to them and more sympathetic to their problems. Even if these regional parties do not give them a better administration the people are not likely to go back to all India parties which they have found failing them again and again. They may try another party within the region because they are getting convinced that all India parties are not an answer to their problems of appalling living conditions.

The idea of India may be pushed further into the background. There may be insurgents and separatists in certain areas to assert the identity of their caste or community, believing that in the affairs of all India politics they may get lost. Much would depend on how New Delhi handles the situation. The Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State relations has become outdated. Had its recommendations been implemented when the report came out more than two decades ago, the demand by the states to have more powers might not have arisen. The Centre has to curtail the subjects it has, either voluntarily or through a Constitutional amendment. Apart from Defence, Foreign Affairs, Currency and overall financial planning, New Delhi should not have more subjects. Once it decentralises its power it should ensure that the decentralisation goes all the way, from the state capital to the district and then to the Panchayat so that people themselves participate in governance.

The two main parties, Congress, the BJP and the Left would have problems. The Left does not seem to bother because it is dictatorial in its working. The CPM ousted a member from the party even though he had resigned after supporting Pranab Mukherjee, the Congress Party’s presidential candidate. Yet both the Congress and the BJP need to handle their members carefully. Both parties would have great difficulty for 2014 election, first in choosing the top person and then tackling him or her. Take for example the BJP, it is already wooing Vasundheraraje Sindhia, former Chief Minister, who thumbed the party and stayed in the wilderness because she was sure that the Central BJP would one day come to her and accept her authoritarian leadership.

Problems of the Congress on this count are negligible. Sonia Gandhi has all the authority. That Rahul Gandhi, her son, should be nominated as number two has already been done. There is no dissidence and she alone, more so after the departure of Pranab Mukherjee, has the confidence of allies in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) she chairs.

English: Varun Gandhi at Saharanpur

English: Varun Gandhi at Saharanpur (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The BJP would need more and more assistance of RSS to sort out difficulties with the state leaders. Realising this, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat has announced that Modi has all the qualifications to become India’s new PM. However, this has naturally infuriated the BJP’s main ally, Janata Dal (United). Its President Sharad Pawar has said that if Modi is the Prime Minister candidate, the JD (UP) would quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

What is wrong with having a Hindutava prime minister, questions Bhagwat? This question itself shows how RSS lives in a world of it own and does not face the reality of secular India. For the BJP, already a divided house, the confusion is more confounded. It realises that the country can never be ruled through a communal agenda. Even the former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee realised this and always put his liberal foot forward. He refused to oust his Principal Secretary Brijesh Mishra despite the pressure of RSS. But then the BJP’s problem is that it does not have a tall person like Vajpayee to withstand the pressure of RSS.

The writer is a senior Indian journalist

This writing first appeared In Pakistan Today on July 6, 2012

Views expressed by experts in the Opinion section are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect editorial policy of MyGlobalCommunityToday.



Categories: Democracy, Opinion

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