The Sudoku of Indian politics
The Sudoku of Indian Politics, Malladi Rama Rao, Politics In India. As of now, in Delhi’s December cold, the sulking Congress leaders and the not so...
As of now, in Delhi’s December cold, the sulking Congress leaders and the not so happy BJP satraps are shivering under the Kejriwal effect. Both had factored in AAP as a force to be reckoned with but did not bargain for the hurricane wind it has become in the end forcing even Narendra Modi to revisit his strategy board.
Now after the results have come in, it is difficult to say who the joker in Delhi’s pack is. Some tended to give that exalted place to Arvind Kejriwal before the ballot. Not any longer. In fact, the Aam Aadmi leader has taken every one by surprise by refusing to stake his claim to be the successor to sulking Sheila Dixit at Delhi Sachivalaya.
Whether he deserves to occupy the high moral ground or not is not the question when he is guided not by idealism but by real politic. He is from Western Uttar Pradesh, and is, therefore, familiar with the story of Charan Singh, the Jat leader, who ended up as a footnote to Durbar politics of Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay. And as a resident of Delhi, he was eyewitness to the way Chandrasekhar and Inder Kumar Gujral were induced to commit self-immolation on the holy banks of Yamuna.
The Janata Dal-United hoped to be the kingmaker but has ended up as a bit player. The party contested 27 seats dominated by Bihari and eastern UP voters. It won just one seat, and the remaining 26 candidates forfeited their deposits. No surprise, therefore, the present day successor to Chanakya in Pataliputra is having second thoughts on aligning with the Congress either directly or indirectly.
Nitish Kumar cannot get back to the BJP having parted the saffron company after finding in Narendra Modi a clear challenger to his ambition of becoming the most accomplished NDA face in 2014. His politics of convenience have made the Congress also to develop cold feet. The party doesn’t have any presence worth the name in Bihar today.
Over the past two decades, the Grand Old Party (GOP) has surrendered its turf in the Gangetic plains to the castiest parties. Probably, things could have been different had Sonia Gandhi, who took over the party reins after a Pranab engineered coup at 24 Akbar Road, followed the PV line of adopting the Indira-MGR alliance model for UP. She did not. Instead, she tried to exploit the relative weaknesses of the regional forces with some help from a caged parrot.
Ten years of this balancing act has taken the party nowhere in the two crucial states of UP and Bihar. What is more both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Nitish Kumar are looking for an option better than the Congress and the BJP. Yes, Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan have not yet lost their hope of bouncing back on the centre-stage believing the good word of neighbourhood Peter Vidals. The Congress doesn’t see them through their eyes though.
As of now, in Delhi’s December cold, the sulking Congress leaders and the not so happy BJP satraps are shivering under the Kejriwal effect. Both had factored in AAP as a force to be reckoned with but did not bargain for the hurricane wind it has become in the end forcing even Narendra Modi to revisit his strategy board. The minorities, the slum dwellers and the lower middle class have deserted the Congress. The BJP has lost a significant section of its traditional Punjabi refugee and middle class vote. Under the pressure of their sons and daughters, the middle classes and the upper classes came out of their drawing rooms to stand before polling booths.
The way Kejriwal phenomenon swayed the youth and made them to look to the future with hope was akin to the NTR wave in Andhra Pradesh that had shaken the Congress from its slumber in 1983. Like the NTR fans, the Kejriwal acolytes took upon themselves the responsibility of campaigning, and made history to repeat. Having seen the 1983 wave and the 2013 winds, I do not think Kejirwal is cut in the NTR mould. The late Telugu thespian’s knowledge of politics was borrowed wisdom. The former tax-man has, however, cut his teeth in the NGO politics, and social media that are drawing like a magnet highly educated and qualified youth, which is looking for surfed Nirvana.
The likes of Sharad Pawar see in this class pseudo-activists who have no connect with ground reality, and blame Sonia Gandhi for investing them with marketability and respectability. They have a point given the way the National Advisory Council became the Shadow Cabinet. And the way the Jan Lokpal campaign was allowed to be trumpeted as the panacea for all the ills facing the country.
Like the trade off for the release of Rubia Sayed during the VP Singh regime, the yielding to Anna Hazare –Kejriwal campaign has set a precedent. Tomorrow any motley crowd can gather at Jantar Mantar and take out processions to India Gate to force their ideas on the government of the day with Barkha Dutts and Arnab Goswamis cornering the ministers on their show to give “your answer now. The nation wants to know”.
All this is not an endorsement of Sharad Pawar’s clamour for a return to the Indira Gandhi days of strong, decisive and result-oriented leadership. People do not want weak rulers, no doubt, but they do not want leaders with authoritarian streak either.
A country as vast as India with long borders and large population needs a government, which remains alive to the needs of the people and keeps in constant touch with the people. The Congress failed this test and is paying the price. What have been aggravating its misery are its organisational weakness, and infighting that refuses to fade out of headlines in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh.
Sheila Dixit, Kiran Kumar Reddy and Digvijay Singh will remain benchmarks of Sonia Gandhi’s version of laissez-faire policy. All the three contributed to the fall of Sonia Congress in no small measure. Why they were allowed a free run will remain the Sudoku of Indian politics. Because their shenanigans have been faithfully reported in the print and dissected in the talk shows. The Kejirwal effect should have served as a wake up call to mount a salvage operation. It has not, surprisingly!