Amit Shah and Narendra Modi with their 22 years of good governance in Gujarat – which is being prescribed as a model of development – had a narrow escape at the State elections in Gujarat. It is quite likely the BJP leadership would have started working on a face-saving strategy and even identified a scapegoat for their defeat when the results started pouring in and Congress was leading for a while. A political ‘write off’ along with some young political up-starts – one of them an underage to even contest elections – gave a run for life to the highest and the mightiest in the BJP.
BJP and their psephologists along with their media lap-dogs had projected a mammoth victory for the party. Immediately after the results were announced they changed their stand and got into the celebratory mode and argued that a victory is a victory and the margin of victory has no meaning. They, also, were of an opinion that anti-incumbency was a factor that worked against the sustainability of the model of development that they were, and still are, so vociferously advocating. If a model of development which has been, supposedly, so successfully implemented generates an anti-incumbency factor, there is reason to challenge the efficacy of the model and its implementation.
BJP wants to have a Congress Mukt Bharat. It is, at the same time, seen as a party that is driven by the Charisma of PM Modi and the political scheming and manipulations of Amit Shah. It is a concern that should bother everyone as to what kind of Bharat would we have evolved into if were to see the saffron colour all through the political map of India and have the pictures of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah at all public offices – there is reason for us to believe that even some private establishments would have their pictures.
The minds of the majority of the Indian electorate has been manipulated to such an extent that we have reached a bizarre state wherein we have democratically elected an autocrat. In this background, the coming together of the group of young leaders, under the tutelage of the slow but ever-improving Rahul, who are raising their voice for the socially and economically deprived brings in a breath of fresh air in the claustrophobic Indian political space.
In the near future we might see a Congress Mukt Bharat but that is the time when the count-down for BJP and its allies would begin. Even if political opponents are reduced to a fringe status at the national level, there would be reason for BJP – with their limited intellectual and professional capabilities – to come up with schemes and models of development that would be ill-conceived and faulty and added to this would be their nauseatingly repulsive whipping up of communal and hate politics and this would provide more than required feed to their opponents to emerge strong. In fact, Congress Mukt Bharat would mark the beginning of the process of ‘political titration’ in the country and we would see the saffron colour in the political map change all of a sudden – just as it happens in a chemical titration.
The desire to operate in an environment where there is no opposition is nothing short of having suicidal tendencies in politics. The job of the ruling party is to improve the quality of political engagement and discourse to a level at which the opposition is not able to – despite their ideological differences – come up with criticism that would find acceptance with people. But, engaging with people sitting on the other side requires the ability to face challenges gracefully and make feedback based amends in the operating principles and strategy. No one should think that it is only him and his party that can make it possible for the “125 crore fellow citizens” to meet their aspirations. The challenges that the diversity and the complexity of the nation offers are continuously being struggled with by the thousands of researchers and policy analyst in the best of the institutions and it time for the party in power and its leadership to realise that the ‘I know it all’ attitude does not work.
Getting votes through the use of personal charisma and demagoguery based divisive politics does not, necessarily, give a person the capability to come up with plans and policies aimed at development and peace. Transfer of ideas happen when the political challenger is respected and treated as an equal and not ridiculed and run down at every possible opportunity. Rahul might be a political non-entity and the Congress party has no grass root level organisation in the state of Gujarat and despite that all the big wigs of the ruling party are parked there for weeks. It is good to take every opponent seriously – there is nothing wrong in doing that – but it is required to, at least, gracefully accept that there was a challenge. The satisfaction and excitement of achieving something is palpable only when there is challenge and when you realise that you won despite some tough challenge. Wonder why PM Modi is denying himself the satisfaction of having won despite a huge challenge. This make-belief of invincibility would make PM Modi and his party vulnerable. There is a political lesson for Mr Modi from the Hollywood actor, Sylvester Stallone. He said “I’m always looking for a new challenge. There are a lot of mountains to climb out there. When I run out of mountains, I’ll build a new one”.