God save the King of Kongress
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns, Top Stories

God save the King of Kongress

February 19, 2024

2024 Parliamentary Election: Whither Opposition and Congress?

The Parliamentary election 2024 is only a couple of months away and the nation is experiencing a new kind of election fever which we have not seen except in 1977, the post-Emergency Parliamentary election. Then, as expected, the newly cobbled up Opposition parties, under the dynamic and well-accepted leadership of Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan (JP)  called Janata Party, took on the Congress party and won.

The present BJP in its older avatar at that time known as Bharatiya Jana Sangh was almost an apology of a political party compared to its other partners namely Congress (O), Socialist Party of India (of Raj Narain and George Fernandes), Bharatiya Lok Dal (of Charan Singh, who was posthumously given Bharat Ratna this year) and Swatantra Party (of C. Rajagopalachari and ‎Minoo Masani). Together, these parties, which were a part of Janata Morcha, a political movement known as ‘Total Revolution’ led by Jayaprakash Narayan, became  Janata Party.

During the election campaign, Indira Gandhi called this Janata Party as a ‘strange animal’ and a ‘khichdi’ party without any political or moral principles. She called the Janata Party as an ‘opportunistic party.’ Indira Gandhi was prophetic in her utterances and tirade against the Janata Party. The Janata Party which won the election and formed the government soon came apart as its Central leadership could not hold those disparate parties together with each party asserting its own political and economic ideology. Naturally, things fall apart when Centre cannot hold.

Leaders of these coalition political parties were too ambitious to become Prime Ministers and looking for an excuse, no matter how frivolous it was. A replay of a similar political acrobatics was seen when Rajiv Gandhi was defeated in 1989 and V.P. Singh became the Prime Minister poisoning the nation with Mandal Commission. Its pernicious effect on our country’s earlier healthy reservation policy is impacting on our society even now.

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Before Mandal Commission,  the evil of caste system was just an undercurrent in electoral politics. But thereafter it brazenly surfaced in the elections throwing up many caste-based satraps in States like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. No wonder we are hearing the hoarse voices for caste census which will surely perpetuate caste system for all time to come as long as there is electoral politics in our country.

If anyone is to be blamed for this anti-social development, it is our politicians who strut around calling for the abolition of the caste system, but doing nothing about it. We are marching towards an age of reason and societal enlightenment where socially every citizen is of equal status, mutually respected and treated with dignity. But see, what our politicians have done. Their greed for power has seared the souls of the socially discriminated and deprived sections of our citizens. Therefore, we need no more political leaders now. There are enough of them. The need of the hour is for social reformers like Mahatma Gandhi, Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, Subramania Bharati, Swami Vivekananda, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dayananda Saraswati, Narayana Guru and others.

However, unless the caste factor with its identities is erased from electoral politics, we will never have a fair and free election. Therefore, we need tall social reformers who will reform our politicians  to eschew caste factor in elections completely. Is it an utopian idea?

Be that as it may, let us take a peek into the election that is at our doors. As I mentioned, the Opposition coalition in the past, in 1977 and 1989, won the election. To that extent at least it was a successful political strategy, though it committed harakiri soon after forming the government.

But see what is happening to  a similar coalition launched to face the BJP (rather Modi!) in the 2024 election. The I.N.D.I. Alliance is a still-born baby. Look at the way I.N.D.I. Alliance is coming apart, exploding. It is said that the strength of a chain depends on its weakest link. But here it seems all its links are weak except the one —Congress! And Congress itself seems to be at large, its Prime Ministerial candidate walking the Indian Roads in all directions on a journey to nowhere.

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An angry young man, who had the audacity to tear to smithereens his own UPA government’s notification at a press conference in Delhi, he is going to take on Modi in 2024 Parliamentary elections alone, like a One-Man Army without foot soldiers. And worse that his high-ranking officers are deserting him one after the other. Yesterday’s Deccan Herald had given a list of them by name with an apt sub-heading “Never-ending list” and at the last count there were 34 and still counting.

Well, but “Who is afraid of Virginia Wolf?” Or “Who is afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” Not Rahul Gandhi, of course. Among those who deserted the sinking Congress Boat are many honourable, loyal Congressmen like for example Supreme Court Advocate Kapil Sibal, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Amarinder Singh,  Jyotiraditya Scindia and Milind Deora. Yes, others might have left to save their skin from ED.

However, should Congress High Command lose these senior honchos at a critical time of Parliamentary election? No. Rahul Gandhi’s great-grandfather Nehru or his grandmother Indira Gandhi and even his father Rajiv Gandhi (who spoke in a public meeting in Mumbai about ending the evil of power-brokers in Congress and then compromised) would not have allowed these stalwarts to leave the party? Didn’t Nehru stop Gen. K.S. Thimayya from resigning despite V.K. Krishna Menon? But Rahul has guts. He simply shunned these people with a ‘Couldn’t care for you’ attitude saying “People who are leaving tomorrow, should go today itself.”

Now over to the 2024 Parliamentary election.

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