Beyond the Virtual Conclave

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who secured a 66% popularity rating in August 2020, has seen this plummet to 24% this August.

Had it not been the case that their mesmerised lurch to communal identity politics over the last seven years especially is taking a back-seat to the urgency of real issues, Modi’s fall may not have happened as steeply as it has.

That the charm lasted so long is no unique occurrence in the history either of Independent India or of the world at large.

Concomitantly, the discrete “compulsions” of India’s non-BJP parties severally are never as gaping as were those between a democratic US and the Socialist Soviet Union.

They did come together, as must those parties in India who share a common allegiance to democracy and the Constitutional republic.

That such an awareness is taking firm hold among them is testified to by the proceedings at the virtual conclave organised by Sonia Gandhi, the interim president of the Congress, in which some 19 opposition parties registered both their participation and their unequivocal concern that it may be now or never to salvage the pluralist, democratic, and constitu-tional legacy of the freedom movement.

That this was no proforma or hollow coming together is evidenced by the litany of concretely formulated concerns voiced by all participating parties and forthrightly inscribed in a “joint statement.”

That not even the clubbing of Mandal and Kamandal has prevented Modi’s fall to a rather ignominious 24%–just a few percentage points above a much-derided Arvind Kejriwal–is a telling affirmation of the people’s alertness to the objective status of the Union and of their stakes within it.

As at the hour of the erstwhile “India Shining” episode under the then A.B. Vajpayee regime (2004), the false imperative of declaring a leader to the gathering movement has been wisely set aside as ephemeral to the macro-historical need of the life of the residual republic, most eloquently by the redoubtable Mamata Bannerjee herself.

It is the long list of issues that must lead.

That Sonia Gandhi has clearly said, the movement must be consolidated outside parliament on the street, and a programme of action has already been chalked out for the ten days between September 20 and 30, to begin with, is a concrete augury.

After all, this notion of the inevitability of the Modi leadership has come into question now from within the BJP itself. A man no less than a cabinet minister, namely Nitin Gadkari, has now spoken of Nehru and Vajpayee as ideal leaders for a democracy.

This surely should give some food for thought both to Modi and the opposition.

That the new combined opposition is seized of these eventualities is now clearly in articulate evidence, enhancing the prospect of meeting them with effect.

Pegasus, the flying harbinger of truth, may indeed have precipitated a moment of historical reckoning long overdue.

It may have brought home to the opposition that the time has come to defeat the primary antagonism of the day rather than remain embroiled in lesser internecine skirmishes. ooo


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Vol. 54, No. 10, Sep 5 - 11, 2021