New Paradigms in National Politics

When Siddarth Varadarajan, not BJP’s best friend by any stretch of imagination, grudgingly accepts the party as the ‘only national party’, it better be true.

Naysayers would like to point out that, apart from the stupendous success in Assam, BJP virtually drew a blank in Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. These states were never the traditional bastions of the saffron party, so any incremental gains, however miniscule, is still a step in the right direction.

Apart from the decline and relegation of Congress, the recently concluded State Elections have started a new paradigm for national politics. Though the next general election are a good 3 years away, it is important to understand the shift in the political discourse of the country.

BJP vs All

It is now very clear for all the opponents of BJP that ‘consolidation of anti-BJP votes’ is the key to success. The ‘Bihar model’ showed that parties and personalities have to swallow their ego and pride, to come together, as the only way to defeat BJP at the electoral hustings.

This grand alliance of opposition, may very well be a blessing in disguise for BJP. It will certainly impact the vote arithmetic but it will also expose the opposition’s chinks in their armor. In this age of a well informed electorate, it is impossible to hide the differences within an alliance, especially between parties who have been traditional rivals like SP and BSP.

BJP has to approach 2019 with a clear strategy that it is going to be pitted against most parties in India. It is as is important for the party to hold on to it’s existing vote bank as it is to make new inroads. Especially BJP will do well to focus on South and not just be a UP-centric party.

BJP would like to believe itself as a ‘party with a difference’. In many ways, it is true as there’s virtually very little dynasty in it’s leadership structure. It is far easier for BJP to propel someone like Sarbanda as Chief Minister – a young and almost a ‘leader-next-door’.  For 2019, BJP must ensure that more newer, younger faces are offered the opportunity to take the party forward.

The future of the country is irretrievably linked to the fortunes of BJP.  BJP must lead the country till 2024 with an absolute majority, it is the only way to pull the country from the abyss of poverty and infrastructure gap caused by several decades of Nehruvian policies.

Catch 22 for Regional Satraps

Most powerful regional parties like the TDP, DMK, ADMK, SP came into existence as ‘alternative to congress’.  Only BSP and TMC were in response to non-congress political opposition.

The regional parties have now trained their guns on BJP, the common ‘communal’ enemy.  The bi-polarities of ‘Secularism vs Communalism’ is a much weakened debate in India, however it is still relevant. The recent hype on beef or intolerance showed us that despite being a weakened force, the ‘communal vs secular’ debate still has the potency to occupy the minds of people.

The regional parties are past masters of using such divisions to their advantage especially the likes of SP, TMC and DMK who have self-anointed themselves as ‘Secular’.  But to challenge BJP outside their own State, it is important for the regional satraps to develop a national perspective.

The need for this ‘makeover’ represents a ‘catch 22’ situation for the regional parties – To be sufficiently ‘nationalistic’ in their outlook without losing their ‘regional’ identity.  As a case in point, JD(U) would have to balance it’s ‘bihar victimization’ plank with celebrating growth elsewhere in the country.

The regional parties must realize that ‘arithmetical aggregation’ would catapult one of them to the top post but the challenge is not to reach the top, but to stay there. Without a national perspective, the higher they reach, the harder they will fall.

The last rites

Surgery. This is the latest buzzword in congress circles, though given the party’s predicament, it may not mean much in terms of action. And the nation isn’t complaining one bit.

Congress as a political force has, hopefully, ceased to exist. Apart from BJP scoring a massive self-goal, the chances of Congress returning to power on it’s own seem very remote. Stripped of it’s political power, congress is now down to using it’s only other arsenal – so called secular media – to take on the BJP. The likes of Rajdeep Sardesai and his ‘bitter’ half Sagarika for example have taken the ‘congress supari’ in 2014 to do everything to discredit and destabilize the Modi establishment.

The obstructionist approach of congress in legislative business is also wearing out. The nation isn’t in a mood to wait for key legislative changes and will move forward, with or without them.

For nation’s sake, let’s hope that Congress is in a perpetual decline and is only awaiting it’s epitaph. More than anything, if congress is allowed to revive, it may be the biggest failure of the Modi Government.

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