Musings on 2024 Parliamentary election
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns, Top Stories

Musings on 2024 Parliamentary election

July 19, 2023

I.N.D.I.A Vs BHARAT, Howzat?

Indian Democracy seems like a paradox. The first paradox is that we got it in darkness of the midnight. Pandit Nehru in his first Independence Day speech, in great flourish and rhetoric, declared that ‘when the whole world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.’  I had read that Napoleon Bonaparte, when he had lost the war with Russia in order to avoid the infamy and the humiliation of defeat, entered Paris in the night. Whatever it be, in case of India the reason could be to get the calendar of Independence in terms of days correct. Only rounded figures and no fraction, one must suppose.

Another paradox was compromising on the pride of Independence by allowing the incumbent Colonial British Governor General Lord Louis Mountbatten as the first Governor General of Independent India. Now, in contrast, we have Muhammad Ali Jinnah refusing to yield to the suggestion that Lord Louis Mountbatten be also made simultaneously the Governor General of Pakistan and Jinnah be the Prime Minister. Jinnah did not compromise the dignity and pride of the newly won freedom.

This paradox of Indian Democracy seems to persist to this day when we look at the political happenings of this country in the past 75 years of Independence. Leaving behind the past chequered successful passage of Indian Democracy, we have arrived at another Parliamentary election next year in 2024 to affirm the unbroken 75 years of Democracy. That calls for a celebration and it is also a testimony to the faith of 80 percent of Hindu majority of India in Democracy and Secularism.

In order to prepare for the 2024 Parliamentary elections, an affirmative action on the part of 140 crore Indians to protect, preserve and pursue the Democratic way of life, all the political parties numbering 64 (38 NDA and 26 UPA) had held their separate meetings in Delhi and Bengaluru respectively on Tuesday (July 18, 2023). Here too we find a paradox that seems to follow our Democracy like a shadow — sometimes evil, sometimes blessed. This time one of the paradoxes is the vanishing of the Congress-led coalition known as United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and in its place rising of the same alliance, may be with new additions, with a new name I.N.D.I.A, which is an acronym of Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance. Great!

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This is the idea of the Opposition political parties about a United India which would fight for saving the Democracy (as if it is dying or in death bed) and Federalism. To challenge this Opposition coalition, the incumbent BJP-led NDA is all set to pick up the gauntlet thrown at it by this Opposition coalition I.N.D.I.A. It is not yet known if NDA has any plans to have a new nomenclature. If it has not thought of such name-changing like UPA did, I have one name — BHARAT. After all, in our Constitution, our country is called in Part 1, Article 1, which describes the name and territory of the Union, as ‘India, that is Bharat.’ Therefore, let the electoral battle begin between I.N.D.I.A. and BHARAT in the ensuing election!

Recently, I met an old friend from Delhi who had come to Mysuru on business and spent some time with him over a cup of tea. He mentioned that in his flight from Delhi to Bengaluru, a Congress honcho, close to Rahul Gandhi, was sitting next to him. In a casual conversation, after getting to know each other and their purpose of visit to Bengaluru, my friend asked the Congress leader, who would be the Prime Minister in case the Opposition coalition wins the Parliamentary election? Pat came the reply without batting an eyelid, “Why? It is Rahul Gandhi.”

My friend asked about there being other contenders for the Prime Minister’s Office like Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar. For this, the answer was that Congress party being an All-India Party and already having its Governments in Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, Congress will get more number of seats than any other party of the coalition. Naturally, the Prime Ministerial candidate will be from the party which has maximum number of MPs. Since the Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge has declared that he will not be the aspirant, it is going to be Rahul Gandhi.

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As I was listening to my friend, my thoughts went back to 1969 Congress split that took place in its Bengaluru session. Bengaluru seems to be very lucky for Congress. It was after this split, Indira Gandhi never looked back though later, after Rajiv Gandhi, Congress party came under eclipse.

I also recall my discussion with a senior journalist from Bengaluru and friends who evinced interest in politics at a birthday party. Naturally, the 2024 election dominated our conversation. I am personally more or less a devil’s advocate in such discussions, more to make it lively than with any purpose or to win an argument. The general opinion was Modi should go. My response was that no one can predict the future but, it is a very big BUT, that should Modi lose and the Opposition form the Government, it is possible that history may repeat itself. What history?, asked one Left liberal among my friends.

I told, after the 1975 Emergency, in the 1977 Parliamentary elections, a coalition of various Opposition parties known as Janata Party led by Jayaprakash Narayan (JP), which Indira Gandhi called as ‘Khichdi Party,’ challenged Indira Gandhi and won the election. However, Janata Party soon disintegrated and in 1980 another Parliamentary election was held and Indira Gandhi triumphantly romped back to power as empress of India. Will this history repeat itself if the new coalition of Opposition parties I.N.D.I.A comes to power by defeating NDA, is a billion-rupee question. I.N.D.I.A may re-play JP of 1980 and make way for another election. Then… Modi may romp back to power like Indira Gandhi did. There was a stunned silence.

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