The Indian General Election next year in 2019 will not just be an election to choose a particular party but would have deeper and far reaching consequences on the nation and its policies. Although there are a total of seven national parties but the government will be formed either with Indian National Congress (INC) or Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) dominating the coalition, if it will be a coalition government. There is nothing new with this, as it has been the case for past few decades. The point to ponder is the health and stature of India’s two big National parties: Congress and BJP.
The political landscape in India is looking much like the one which prevailed for few decades just after independence; a weak spineless opposition with no clear ideology or modus of operandie. Any individual or party who is against BJP should join hands with Congress is neither an ideology nor a framework.
Congress, India’s oldest party has relied heavily on three major pillars; the name “Gandhi”, the freedom struggle and the vote banks (polarization politics in the name of castes and religion). They have done a lot of interior designing during the course of time to their old building but have lingered to redesign the building itself. The establishment needs a new architecture and not just a new facade. Just once in Indian politics, a person with a different narrative (Gujarat Model) came and all of a sudden “Gandhi” Ji vanished substantially from both the “pockets” and the “politics”. Regardless of the veracity of the model, it does portray a different mindset with which the election was approached. The success of the narrative certainly proves that two out of the three pillars have weakened considerably.
There are a lot of things changed in past few decades which lead to the weakening of those two pillars. First and the foremost, before 1980s Congress was winning a race in which it was the only qualified strong runner, rest others had no clue about what they were doing. In other words, they were behaving like today’s Congress. A Second truly national party started taking shape in the 1980s and since then barring the 1984 election Congress lost its supremacy. Second, people by now know that Congress was not the sole participant in the freedom struggle. There were other people as well who made sacrifices and fought for the country. Thirdly, Just after independence, the villain was the British, people were terrified by what they had gone through during and prior to independence struggle. There are not many voters today who were born before independence who still have sour memories of that period. Britain is not the villain for today’s generation, on the contrary, an indecisive, incompetent and corrupt government is.
BJP, on the other hand, has restructured itself several times and had even faced a lot of humiliating election results, but none the less the party improved and has a firm ideology and a framework to work on. Merit is taking precedence in the party. They learned a few tricks from Congress as well, one of them being, snatching more number of seats with the same vote share. This was the trick Congress party used in 2004 to form the government, the vote share was almost the same as in 1999 but the number of seats won was more.
Evolution is the rule of nature, anything that cannot adapt or evolve dies. King Kong, The giant ape (Gigantopithecus) got extinct due to its inability to adapt. It is high time and the best possible time(the party is already in poor condition) that the party changes and adapts to the new normal. Otherwise, Mr. Modi’s statement “Congress Mukt Bharat” is going to become a harsh reality. The party’s current status is not endangered or vulnerable, it is critically endangered. It is not far when the status would change to Extinct in the Wild (EW) or Extinct.
Congress should either fight the election on its own, face the humiliation and then change its operating principles or let go of this one general election and invest all the time, energy and resource for creating a new, better and a functional party. Maybe Congress gets to a respectable place before the general elections in 2024. They need to get some sort of system in place, the sooner they do it the better it is for them. They could take a leaf from BJP’s Mr. Modi’s booklet, make a model bigger and brighter than Gujarat Model. It seems a better way to improve the image of the party. The party getting obsolete from Indian Politics would be bad not only for them but also for the nation and BJP, because there would be no check whatsoever. A successful democracy needs at least two fundamentally strong national parties.
As of today, it is conspicuous that the Congress is using its third pillar (divisive vote bank politics) along with borrowed pillars in the form of regional parties to survive. The regional parties like SP, BSP, TMC etc. wish for a dominant position in the government but have completely failed to establish themselves in states other than the states they have their solid vote banks. These parties become part of the coalition government, paralyze the government with their demands and needs and at the end country pays the price because of the indecisive government which is not able to take difficult but mandatory steps. The party might in best case scenario survive like this, but to what end? The government that would be formed would be like the UPA or UPA2, even with some smart individuals in the government the fate of the nation would perish again. Sooner or later, the weak structure will fall. India cannot afford another stint of a government with shackles of a coalition. The country needs a number of socio-economic reforms. Only a government which has clear mandate would be in a position of making the required effort.
If a group of people or a political party has become so power hungry that they cannot see the impact of their actions on the nation, Indian voters should at least understand the significance and true potential of their voting rights.