Who would have thought a party that commanded vote share among almost all sections of the society would vanish in such a way! Well, vanish might be a harsh word to the ears of Congress supporters. But, it has relegated to a mere strength of one-tenth of parliamentary strength of Lok Sabha. It is as indigestible as the thought that a party that has merely started with two MPs in the early 1980s would engulf the political scenario of the entire nation.
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Political thinkers of that time must have found it amusing that three men would be able to transform the political party in such away. More so, because of the ideological orientation of the BJP since its early days had no pan Indian appeal. It was more of Hindi, Hindu, Hindutva, appealing more to central Indian Hindi Heartland. In a country like India, it was almost unthinkable on the part of any political thinker that such a rant of Hindutva would gain any real benefit. However, some three decades later it had not only won votes but also won an absolute majority after a long time.
The question is whether the pan-Indian population has accepted this ideology or the BJP has over time molded it in a way to suit the pan-Indian aspiration. To put it in either way would be an oversimplification. Electoral politics depends on a number of things. While cross-examined by Ram Jethmalani in a defamation case against Aravind Kejriwal, Arun Jaitley had subtly explained that winning election depends on a lot of things. A person who is reputed does not mean that he would win the election. There are nuances of electoral politics that go beyond one aspect of a party or person. A number of factors like economy, social corruption, anti-incumbency and malpractices in general administration play their part in deciding the electoral future of a political party.
However, who would say this to the Congress? Congress has an oversimplified behavioral aspect of mega-election. The party has listlessly sat down without brainstorming to regain its political stage. Rather one after another, they keep blaming Modi for everything he does. Mere attacking personally would bring nothing. It would only be regarded as a vendetta by the masses. It must be said that before the 2014 general elections, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer made a mean remark about the birth of Narendra Modi. He said that a tea seller like Modi would never be voted to be the Prime Minister. He suggested that if Modi was interested, he would offer him to serve tea in the Congress Mahasenmelan. This was apparently a derogatory and condescending remark which generated a hysteric response from the middle-class aspiring masses. In fact, the BJP encashed upon it and exploited to the fullest to show Congress’ condescending mentality. It stood exposed in its bare naked, sacked Mani Shankar Aiyer.
However, the party has not been able to learn lessons from the episode. It was not merely an attack on a person as construed by the masses. The middle-class Indians have construed it as an onslaught on ambitions of them, Modi truly representing a middle-class person rising the social ladder through sheer hard work.
Pitted against Rahul Gandhi, he shines like a star. While one is an epitome of hard work, low birth, and middle-class values, Rahul looked like a dumbhead who is here only because of his ascribed status and not achieved one. 2014 election was rather a fight between an astute leader and a dumb politician who lacked merit, at least in the eyes of middle-class Indians who value merit. The shining star had, in his favor, a number of electoral issues. The Congress rule of the last ten years saw a number of large-scale corruption, which generated anti-incumbency. Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption was a blow to the then present dispensation.
However, the 2019 election was a different one. The five years of the BJP government did not deliver gold in the hands of the people. Nor could it solve the problem of corruption. Rather, it was mired in controversy for badly implemented programs, rising intolerance, mob lynching, note ban, and GST implementation. All these put the party in a bad light.
But still, it survived the wave in 2019. It is, for the most part, because of the incompetence of Congress. While it wants to strengthen democracy, on one hand, the party has anointed its President, first Rahul Gandhi and then Sonia Gandhi. After repeated suggestions from party leaders, it has failed to conduct the election for its office bearers. This takes away the fundamental right of the party to talk about democracy. At least, BJP conducts the election for its office bearers. In this sense, it is much more democratic. While Congress is synonymous with dynastic politics, BJP is the only major party that has distributed a very less number of tickets among the kith and kin of political leaders. Moreover, confusion prevails in Congress. There is no clear cut party line on any issue. Even some senior leaders are at loggerheads. If the party does not rectify its ways, then the future is bleak, not only for the political party but also for Indian democracy. Because, without strong opposition, democracy is a hollowed promise. At this crossroad, only internal party elections can pass the baton to the new generation, which can reorganize and rejuvenate the party.