Indian politics reflects the size of the democracy it operates in. Opinions vary, and so do the way people express them. In India though, apart from the emergencies, president rules and general anarchy, things were very civil. The rivalries were there earlier too. Sonia Gandhi and LK Advani greeting each other graciously on state functions were the norm. The vitriolic attacks were restricted to the rally dais and never entered the personal domain.
The elections which changed the face of the political situation in India
The 16th Lok Sabha had been elected on 16th May, 2014. BJP was widely expected to win this one. The NDA most notably, not the party.
The results were shocking. The parliament was a lot saffron than anyone expected or could digest. And this single event set off a reaction. A reaction that resulted in the end of an era. This was, at par with Republicans disposing off the conservatism in the second half of the nineteenth century in the US.
Narendra Modi- The PM who delivered what he promised the masses?
Narendra Modi, all in all, has been a good prime minister. He has in principle made the country more aggressive and resurgent globally. The military enjoys newfound free hand and confidence. The economy seems stable, for the time being. Despite the prediction of doom, the country survived GST and Demonetisation drives. The deteriorating economic growth has stabilized and inflation has decreased.
The strange thing about this entire saga is how the opposition is behaving.
Major Blow For The Congress
Congress couldn’t even be the principal opposition party in the parliament in 2014. This brought a cataclysmic change in the Indian political landscape, as I have discussed before on this same platform.
This was the first time Congress was not to play any major role in government formation since the first provincial elections of British India. The prestige of a so-called institution had been lost. The Grand Old party of India wasn’t so grand anymore.
The changed political landscape
I am going to analyse these changes from three perspectives. The Centre-Left, The Centre-Right and the Centre. As much as the opposition likes to call them out, far-right parties are still fringe in India.
Far- Left ideology died with Jyoti Basu in 2010, and is festering away in ignominy with bullet holes in the jungles of Chhattisgarh and Lutyens’ Delhi.
Centre Left is mostly represented by the Congress and to a lesser extent by the AIADMK and Trinamool Congress. They used to represent a socialistic view of the Indian politics.
Where did Congress go wrong?
Congress especially represented the very pillar of secular politics. With Modi coming to power and utter humiliation of The Congress, this all abruptly changed. For Congress, now politics became a game of disruption. They opposed the government at any and every level.
This included meeting separatists in Kashmir while they were under house arrest for inciting violence against the country. Suddenly the party which likes to take all the credit for independence became blinded by political defeat. The entire policy manifesto of the party consisted of rambling about the communal undertones of the ruling
The leadership of the party doesn’t help either. Repeated electoral defeats doesn’t seem to shake the party out of its rut. Party supremo, Rahul Gandhi has no road map as to how to either lead the party or to reverse its losing streak.
Some may point out at the recent victory in Punjab. But again that may be attributed to anti-incumbency and inept handling of the drug problem by the SAD.
What’s even more stranger is how the party seems to be handling elements within the party. Anything might go to gain traction and attack the government. Even going against the national interest. P Chidabaram, former Union minister in the UPA government openly called for more autonomy for Jammu & Kashmir indirectly giving tacit support to the separatists. Instead of reining them in, the high command seems to encourage it.
Trinamool and the Left- What’s wrong?
The situation gets worse with regional parties like the Trinamool Congress. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, seems to be blatantly and defiantly favoring minority appeasement. Moreover, she blatantly opposes the center in the most verbose way possible.
From attacking and undermining the center’s credibility in West Bengal to the personal attacks on the Prime Minister, Mamata seems to have no tab on her attacks.
Her direct rivals in the Left don’t seem to fare too well either. The Left seems to be losing its credibility fast, owing to their open support to the Maoist insurgents and to open dissent movements against the government. Disruptive politics, a hallmark of the leftists, doesn’t seem to go down too well with the general public. too well either. It seems, though, they did find mileage in a few places.
Accusations on the BJP
The BJP led NDA came to power with much fanfare. But within a year, it was under incredible fire from all sides. Repeated Vidhan Sabha victories painted the town saffron and allegedly red or so the opposition accused.
Modi was notably called out for his silence on cow vigilantism and rise of extreme right wing fringe groups. His ideology is being accused to this day for fomenting communal tensions. But at the same time, many aren’t buying this. By targeting the insecurities of already depressed minorities, new more vicious attacks are made on the ruling party.
The credentials of the BJP’s ideological bosses and allies don’t help either. Neither does the media blowing stuff out of proportion.
What doesn’t help is BJP’s own general apathy. To elements both within and outside. Loose cannons like Subramaniam Swamy are resorting to attacking their own party members. Even within the party elders, the friction seems palpable.
Advani wasn’t all too keen about Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014. More recently, the Prime Minister seems to be foraying in more electoral vitriol than expected from a head of a state.
Some would point out that it is necessary for BJP’s electoral victories in these states. But it would obviously expose him to attacks. Political attacks which are increasingly turning poisonous.
Kejriwal- The man who promised a change but failed
It all seemed to play well for one man until recently. Arvind Kejriwal let a lot of people down. Not that he is a bad politician or a tactless supremo (looking at you Rahul baba). He is exactly what no one expected AAP or him to be.
The power to offset BJP-Congress nexus on pan-India rule. He did start off well, trouncing BJP in Delhi and registering a national presence in his first ever Lok Sabha election.
That all seems to have gone down the drain. His absolutely tactless twitter attacks on Modi, slapstick gimmicks like alleging EVM machines were hacked. Kejriwal seems to have lost the track.
But AAP seems to have done something that seemed impossible just a decade back. The party and its supremo have completely nullified the infallibility of of the PMO.
The attacks on Modi, especially in UP were so vicious that it raised quite a few eyebrows. Notably, it became really, really, uncomfortably personal.
The petty political games
Politics seems a lot more fragmented now. Are you ready for it? Now the rivalries have gone beyond politics. They have become petty and especially with the opposition, pointless. The political landscape has changed, and along with it, the ammunition used. Dead political carriers and deep blast holes of controversies litter the field.