Emboldened by what appears a landslide victory the BJP party and government is gearing up for an early election.Draft electoral rolls are already out in Assam.Strike the iron when it is hot,that seems to be the outlook.In contrast the Congress seems to be still reeling from the defeat.And critics are giving full-throated voice to suppressed feelings of distrust and misgivings about Congress,particularly the leadership.JD(U)’s carpings targeting Rahul have been most vulgar and dismissive.This has redoubled Congress’s woes.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s take would have it that Congress is yet to find the idiom and message to persuade the masses and it is only preaching to the converted. In essence his powerful critique boils down to the familiar myth of ‘Modimagic’,which can reach the masses and cast a spell on them.
I have now formed a different view.Congress must recover quickly from shock and stupor, analyse the factors in play soberly and examine the circumstances with cold reason to take care of them and push forward its alternative vision and ideas about better governance.That may include its guarantees,but balancing their freebies with those of its own won’t be enough to turn defeat into victory.But above all it must bring home to the people the severe disempowerment of the people through soaring taxation on most goods and services,the use of the police and laws to throttle their protests and demands,the injustice of mounting cruelties on the Dalits,pensioners and STs.It is a pity that middle-class leaders tend to think that common people are like slaves and they are not bothered by loss of freedom and their rights.
The plain fact is that for two-three months till polling time reports from the ground on various media had been overwhelmingly in favour of Congress and even the non-partisan exit-polls had shown a decided swing against BJP. No magic can so easily sweep it away.If at all that might trigger the pull-back of one or two percent of the votes,but hardly the massive reversal that has caught everyone by surprise.
Modi’s rhetoric now may include some new elements like the grandeur of Bharat in the international screen,the phenomenal development that the country has purportedly achieved.But the people have sunk deeper into poverty,misery and despair.This is the reading of our times incidentally,that Congress and opposition must constantly harp on with redoubled conviction.This is truth nearer home to the people.The Congress and its allies must reassure the people that it will restore their power and listen to them with respect.
The basic weakness of Congress and particularly its Old Guard that is pulling it back from taking the decisive step to reawaken the people’s interest in it is the lack of faith in the people.For what matters is their positive and free action not their dull passive support.That had been aroused by Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Yatra,and not by the Old Guard and their faith in lollipops.
In stead,afraid that they might lose their grip on the party they seem to have stopped Rahul from continuing with his initiative and made him rest content with ridiculous tokenism of posing for photographs of sharing lives of working people.
Be that as it may it is obvious that Rahul is hardly to blame for the disaster in the three states.There the entrenched leaders struck their feet down and and did not allow Rahul to play any decisive role.Thus they remained vulnerable to the old inner-party strife,old scandals and other problems of which the well-oiled BJP election machine could take advantage through Modi’s rhetoric and the cacophony of the vocal bad-mothers of the BJP and the disgruntled members out for blood.Kamal Nath’s lack of tact born out of overconfidence had also had its mite of undesirable influence. While the claims of the opposition have little weight the Congress ought certainly to have been more tactful and gracious in responding to them.
The two parties in opposition,Samajbadi Dal and AAP have also not covered themselves with glory.They have not won a single seat in these states.Rather,they had attracted a pitiful share of the votes,but must have helped dent Congress’s image with their fulminations. They could have aired their grievances within the INDIA bloc on its proper forum.
This appears to me a picture closer to reality than the drumbeats on the Modimagic. Time is short.But if the truth is faced squarely it will be easier to prepare for the hurdles of parliamentary elections.
Buoyed up by these election results BJP is baring its teeth and claws by rampaging over long-established norms and conventions of quasi-judicial powers of institutions.The hounding out of Mohua Maitra is a shameful example.The proceedings of the Ethics Committee of Parliament were those of a Kangaroo Court.The opposition members were not allowed to intervene.Ms Moitra was denied any chance of self-defence.Yet the Speaker of the Loksabha took the precipitate decision to expel her.
In the ensuing toxic atmosphere BJP is mounting a renewed attack on its favourite bug bear,Nehru.They now attack him for not taking early action on the Pakistani army which followed the tribal raiders into Jammu and Kashmir,and not allowing the Indian army to pursue its advantage after routing the Pakistan army and occupying POK.They forget that there has not till then any accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India.Nor had there been a formal request for help.Once king Hari Singh acceded to India,Indian army moved in and repelled the invaders.The second charge was refraining from occupation of POK.There too it would have led to an unending war between the two countries,once again putting the newly Independent country at risk of returning to bondage of imperialism.
Hiren Gohain is a political commentator