Whither ‘INDIA’?

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is basically a north India party with its original social base among banias—the trading community. Now it is the sole selling agent of Indian big business collaborating in myriad ways with foreign corporates, replacing the grand old party—Congress. After humiliating defeat in the recently held assembly elections in three crucial states in the Hindi heartland Congress party’s former president Rahul Gandhi reiterated his resolve to continue ideological struggle against BJP. But he remained vague about the ideology he was supposed to preach. In a sense BJP sets the agenda while Congress and other opposition parties just react. This time they hardly raised the issue of BJP’s dubious design of polarising voters on religious and parochial lines. Instead they competed with BJP to offer freebies to the poor and marginalised as if they are benevolent Landlords---Zamindars of yester years. In truth Congress was not averse to the idea of soft Hindutva to get back its Hindu constituency but the middle roader failed to gain much by way of its delicate balancing act.

After the disappointing election results which many see as the dress rehearsal for the 2024 general election the fate of INDIA—Indian Developmental Inclusive Alliance—hangs in the balance as some regional members of INDIA look sceptical about Congress party’s behaviour and they raise the Gandhi party’s big brotherly attitudes towards them. The Congress refused to accommodate the Samajwadi Party [SP], a major partner in INDIA, in Madhya Pradesh assembly elections and paid the price heavily, notwithstanding a strong anti-incumbency factor.

INDIA is at worst a heterogeneous amalgam having no unified action programme against social and economic injustice. There have been no meetings of the INDIA bloc in a long time. The Congress just avoided any meeting hoping to have better bargaining power after the election results were out. But much to the dismay of their top leadership everything went wrong for the Congress. The only meeting so far of the Coordination Committee of the INDIA was held in New Delhi on September 13, where the leaders agreed upon holding joint meetings in poll-bound states, the first being in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. Ironically enough, the Bhopal meeting was not held after MP state leadership shot down the idea.

It is unlikely that they will learn any lesson from the set-back. No party wants to cede an inch of the fiefdom it manages. Congress party’s plan is to somehow maintain the unity culture in INDIA without losing the claim of primeministership in future. BJP now controls 12 state governments, facing virtually no effective opposition. Many think they could sail through easily in 2024 as the opposition unity is still a mirage despite what they routinely say about united fight against BJP and its mascot—Narendra Modi. Poster boy sells because of poor imitation by Congress party’s Prime Ministerial face—Rahul Gandhi. The formation of INDIA doesn’t mean regional satraps, particularly the casteist parties in the north, will oblige Congress by giving it extra space to manouvre and play the role of a boss.

Poll experts are busy in focusing losses and gains in percentage points of vote sharing and factors that influenced the swing in favour of Modi. India’s major media houses have been tirelessly portraying Modi as the saviour of falling Indian economy ever since his ascent to power in 2014. What is more they would like to project Modi as the only Indian politician who matters in global politics, particularly after the much publicised G20 exercises. TV channels even go to Pakistan and ask Pakistanis, young and old, about Modi’s success as an international statesman. Thus Modi’s election campaign has a wider reach.

‘INDIA’ leaders just casually talk about unemployment, vanishing jobs, discrimination against the weaker sections, plight of migrants and all that without showing any inclination to organise masses in their millions on the burning issues affecting the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people. In the end all their aggrieved voices end up in demanding more doles from the Centre.


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Vol 56, No. 25, Dec 17 - 23, 2023