BJP the Ful­crum of In­dian Pol­i­tics

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Ni­lan­jan Mukhopad­hyay

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.


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