BJP the Fulcrum of Indian Politics
The election of M Venkaiah Naidu as India’s 13th Vice-President, coupled with the collapse of Bihar’s grand alliance amid electioneering, marks the stabilisation of the third phase of Indian polity. This period of single-party, or BJP, dominance, ushered in with the 2014 Lok Sabha polls while flagging the end of the second episode — the coalition-era — now appears heading for a prot r act e d r un. The e l e c t i on of President Ram Nath Kovind and Naidu, though signalling BJP’s control over the troika of three highest elective constitutional posts, is merely symbolic. BJP’s influence on Indian social and pol i t i c al di s c ourse runs far deeper than almost all previous gover nments and support for it is not just programmatic but increasingly acquiring an ideological character.
The electoral setbacks since 2014 in Delhi and more importantly in Bihar where the last ditch attempt of coalitions to prevent BJP supremacy was enacted, are now in the past. It is now evident that despite possible electoral setbacks in future, BJP has emerged as the fulcrum of Indian politics. The altered equation of its relationship with Nitish Kumar is its most visible indicator. His statement t h a t “Na r e n d r a Modi cannot be defeated” may appear unpleasant to adversaries but rings true if only for the lack of their willingness to pose a serious challenge to Modi. BJP’s march towards political hegemony began in the run-up to the 2014 polls on the back of hope that Modi personified. The party has not just ensured its sustenance, it has built on this by forging a formidable social coalition backed by an emerging class alliance. In between, the party organization has been infused with new energy and displays unabashed quest for power.
BJP’s success lies not merely in conjuring wining strategies and widening partnerships, but in increasingly dictating the agenda of its adversaries. BJP lead Congress into converting the presidential and vice-presidential polls as an ideological battle and not just a tactical round. BJP has also successfully trapped Congress in its nationalistic discourse.
Not just the political class, but civil society too, which has the capacity to pose serious challenge to the state, has been forced on the defensive as its programmes have been delegitimised. BJP’s strategy also worked because of the incapacity of the opposition to give voice to the anxiety of people and articulate a new language expressing their concerns.
It might appear far-fetched at this time, but it would be unwise to be unmindful that Kovind’s and Naidu’s tenure would normally end in 2022, just three years away from the centenary of the formation of RSS. Given that Modi set long timelines after stepping into office, it also cannot be ignored that both he and Mohan Bhagwat will turn 75—self-prescribed age of retirement from political life — thesameyear.None of this, however, figures in any for mal conversation but the home truths have to be borne in mind, especially in the absence of any counter-narrative from Congress or any other opposition party.
Also, Amit Shah’s imminent election to t he Rajya Sabha in a way typifies the emergence of BJP from the t i me when it was grappling with selfdoubts till early 2013 to its present s upreme c o nf i - dence. His domination within BJP is c o mp a r a b l e with its hegemony over other parties.
The fact that BJP has made a clean break with its past and placed significant leaders in key positions with future in mind is in contrast to stagnancy within its adversaries. Unless unforeseen developments reverse their decline, one-time leaders and parties of significance will continue to slide into irrelevance. Parties have been out of power for long years — Congress for eight years from 1996 and BJP for a decade. But neither faced a relentless electoral and organisational machine like today’s BJP. Moreover, in 2004, Congress formed the government not because it won the polls but because BJP lost it. The party under the Modi-Shah duo appears less likely to commit hara-kiri and has to just ensure that the party isn’t consumed by its own pride. The opposition appears intent on doing the rest.
FUTURE IN MIND CONGRESS TRAPPED