How real is BJP Downslide

Anser Kidwai

The wave peaked with an incredible victory for the BJP in UP but only to head menacingly towards a speedy nadir within a bare period of three months. Indeed, unpredictable are the ways of political fortunes and uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. The wide scale Kisan unrest in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh was a calamity that was waiting to happen but in present-day terms it has to be seen as a logical corollary of the simmering popular discontent countrywide. Ironically, the turn of events has syncronised with the celebrations being organized on the completion of three years of the BJP rule. The embers of rural unrest have started spreading out to other states, notably Rajasthan and Haryana as of now.

The present ruling dispensation has to blame itself for things coming to such a pass. The party score a massive mandate on its development card, and Mr Modi was widely seen as a promised messiah at a critical juncture of nation’s destiny. He never tired of promising equity and justice to India’s “125 crores without prejudice and discrimination. But all the talk of development dissolved into a dream when irrelevant issues came to dominate the public discourse–ghar wapsi followed by food diktats of the gau rakshak tribe, interference in the academics and campuses et al–“development” tending to be reduced into jumla. The worst part of it all was the Prime Minister’s silence in the situation. No word of condemnation came from him as such except for a generalized disapprobation. What followed was a free-for-all by such elements.

Mr Modi rode to power as a savior when everything seemed to be lost thanks to the sins of omission and commission during the UPA-II regime though the Congress as such was more sinned against than sinning. For the real fault in its mode of governance lay in the schema of dual control at the top. In the then prevailing situation Narendra Modi’s pattern of governance provided a ray of hope to the people at large. Notwithstanding the fact of the ghost of 2002 Gujarat still haunting his footsteps, the people seemed to forgive and forget all of it for the hope of development and corruption-free administration. Certainly no voter in India had voted for the politico-social conflict of the present variety.

Things went further awry in an atmosphere of negative job growth, zero sum progress in the manufacturing sector and the GDP downtrend. The demonetization scheme came a cropper even if initially its progenitors and promoters compared with such a revolutionary step as bank nationalization of the Indira Gandhi era. Many other schemes announced by the ruling dispensation tuned out to be a reboot of the programs which had been already operational. The swacch Bharat, for instance, was only a redo of the old nirmal scheme.
This situation is certainly, far from edifying, and somebody must step in to stem further downslide be it the ruling dispensation or a unified opposition. Even if of late the Congress and other opposition groupings have woken to the imperative of cohesive alliance, it is nobody’s case that it has become irredeemable. There has been no erosion in the clout of the Prime Minster; he still draws awe and is listened to. Thus an initiative from his side will mend the matters in the party’s favor. How far his reticence has been deliberate and how far is it part of a policy matter is difficult to say. For those spewing venom cannot be simply dismiss as “fringe” because many of them have been loyal members of the largest Sangh pariwar.

The opposition on its part too has left much to be desired. The issue is linked with the near decimation of the Congress party in the last general election followed by the streak of its reverses in the state polls and by polls. The answer to the situation lies in forging a broad-based unity of non-BJP groupings. How they work it out for the coming Presidential election will be watched with interest. The Government’s talks with the opposition so far have not yielded any positive result, but therein lies and opportunity for the ruling party to push for an acceptable candidate (of the ilk of Speaker Sumitra (Tai) Mahajan) or Sushma Swaraj Yet, hoping for a unanimous choice seems to be more of a wishful thinking than a possibility.

All said and done, there is nothing to suggest any grave doubts in Mr Modi’s return to power once again in 2019 even if with a reduced majority but at the same time those in opposition must also realies the real implications of another unbridled term for the BJP-RSS and what it would mean for the idea of India envisaged by Gandhiji and hundreds of thousands of freedom fighters who rallied behind him to win freedom.

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