Strategy of Inaction

Congress is likely to lose the status of main opposition party in parliament unless something radical happens in its electoral fortunes the possibility of which seems remote at the moment. The idea of two party—or for that matter two front—system is not taking roots in Indian parliamentary culture though the so-called ‘national parties’, Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are trying their best to make it a replica of western model. In truth both Congress and BJP are hardly national in character, they don’t represent the nation. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is in a shambles while the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is equally in bad shape, particularly after their recent setbacks in a number of by-polls in a number of states. Junior partners in both the alliances are mostly regional outfits lacking national or international outlook. They are mere passengers. They have very little importance in formulating the Alliance policies. They are satisfied with ‘protection money’ they receive from their Alliance bosses.

The farmers’ agitation paved the way for a broader opposition unity against the Modi tyranny but all the opposition parties, including the left parties failed to utilise the situation to their advantage. Farmers have no faith in Congress and its UPA allies as they have done very little in the field other than paying lip service to the protesters. The reason is simple: Congress cannot antagonise the corporate lobby. Nor can they offer any radical programme for agriculture. Both Modi and the Gandhi clan are in the same boat when it is the question of ‘reforms’ and opening up the economy to the multinationals. Punjab’s former Congress chief minister Amrindar Singh recently met Modi with a proposal to create a special fund for financing alternative agriculture in Punjab. In plain language he was actually advocating replacement of rice cultivation with fruits as it won’t involve any minimum support price ( MSP) hazards. In other words he was trying to create fissures in the on-going farmers’ agitation. Congress never vociferously demanded scrapping of farm laws. Modi is basically following the Congress script of economic management or mismanagement.

As for national affairs parties irrespective of their colour set their strategy in terms of electoral calculus. And on international affairs they hardly take trouble to address the problems that affect national interests as well. They have nothing to say on climate crisis or precisely on Cop-26 summit which was held in Glasgow in October. The World Meteorological Organisation has stated that greenhouse gas emissions had set a new, disturbing record and increased at a faster rate than that of annual average of the last decade in spite of industrial activity being adversely affected by the Corona virus pandemic and prolonged lockdown. Political parties, including left parties, take just academic interest in climate crisis. But the situation is so desperate that the world is heading towards the mythical ‘Armageddon’ not in the distant future.

In the yester years despite their poor presence in assemblies and parliament the left used to make their voice heard on almost all controversial issues. It’s no more. These days they spend much of their time and energy in searching for electoral allies. Modi is determined to dismantle whatever remains of welfarism and they finish their duties by issuing harmless statements.

This year November 8—the 5th anniversary of demonetisation—came and went without any big protest rally by the opposition. Rahul Gandhi ,of course, made some road shows to supply staple to the electronic media. Five years back on 8th November the country came to a standstill. At 8 pm Prime Minister Modi announced 500 and 1000 notes to be out of legal tender. The many tall claims made by the Government proved just lies. The weaker sections in society had to bear the brunt of economic devastation that followed. The economic downturn that was triggered by the demonetisation exercise has now been further deepened by the successive moves like the introduction of GST and imposition of prolonged lockdowns against the backdrop of Covid-19 crisis. And Modi’s politics of vaccine has created a nightmare for the poor who were forced to run from pillar to post to get the right dose.

The Modis are going to place a bill in the winter session of parliament to amend the pension law with a view to phasing out the pension scheme altogether. But no awareness campaign by the opposition. They also failed to expose how Modi utilised Covid-19 threat to silence dissenters. Yet they never tried to organise an effective movement against Modi’s misrule. The historic farmers’ movement may be crushed by force if political opponents rely on ‘wait and see’ policy. The strategy of inaction won’t pay.


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Vol. 54, No. 22, Nov 28 - Dec 4, 2021