India can’t belittle itself, focus needs to be on issues

Forget charisma or the ‘tyaag and tapasya’ trope, the trio have a unique genius to swallow any silver lining that may touch their periphery.
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express Illustrations)
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express Illustrations)

By the time these lines appear in print, the pointless game of KBCM would be over. Celebrations for BJP-NDA ‘hattrick’ would have subsided, but the ‘mourning’ for the ‘now-not-so-Grand Old Party’ will certainly continue for a while. Mourning isn’t perhaps the right word, as there are not many—bar the retainers, hangers-on and dynasty loyalists—who care about the comatose patient on ventilator for a long time. The more vocal among them continue to hope against hope that a miracle will happen and the party will rise like a Phoenix from its ashes. Alas, the mythical bird has been extinct, and no one can be made to believe that all the spin about Congress retaining its vote share is the sign that the tide may yet turn in 2024. Who cares about what happens to the Congress now or in the foreseeable future?

Decades ago, a book sparked speculation about democracy and development in India. It was titled After Nehru Who? No writer is likely to waste time and energy inviting readers to debate ‘After RaGa Who?’ Not only the well-meaning and forever-floundering heir apparent but also his sister and mother, have demonstrated their utter incompetence to win elections. Forget charisma or the ‘tyaag and tapasya’ trope, the trio have a unique genius to swallow any silver lining that may touch their periphery.

What is transparent to the average Indian and voters where it matters is that ignorance, arrogance and unshakeable sense of entitlement are all they possess and bring to the table. Why blame Kamal Nath or Ashok Gehlot for the electoral disaster, when it’s the so-called High Command that has scored all the self-goals? Although, Nath deserves dishonourable mention in the despatches from the battlefront. He hounded out Jyotiraditya Scindia and grossly insulted Akhilesh Yadav, delivering his state to BJP not once, but twice. He is, undoubtedly, a great survivor from Sanjay Gandhi’s inglorious days to the present.

Let’s not waste any breath on the prospects of the INC. Many political analysts have opined, and not without reason, that it’s the BJP that is keeping alive this patient with multiple morbidities on life support systems to prop-up an opponent who can be demolished again and again displaying the invincibility of Superman NaMo and organisational brilliance of Amit Bhai. 

What we the people should be thinking and talking about is what is going to happen under the BJP. Not only in the states ruled by it but also in the impact of the majoritarian narrative all over the land. Majoritarian, once again, isn’t perhaps the right word. In a democracy, numbers matter most and whether critics like it or not, the majority in the land seem to have no problem with either Hindutva or the tolerance of hate speech that has undeniably spread toxic communalism. 

In this case, can one single out the Modi government for blame? Haven’t the courts failed to protect the citizen? The learned judges keep thundering about the imperative of providing space for dissent as a robust Opposition is essential in a robust democracy. Sad to say, with all due respect, when the time comes to practise what is preached, the majesty of law appears to be a legal fiction. The concept of Separation of Powers is contested by the executive enjoying the support of brute majority. With impunity it violates the concept of equality before law and rides roughshod the principles of natural justice. Mahua Moitra’s expulsion illustrates this in a shocking manner. The lady may well have been guilty of all she is accused of, but scant respect was shown to due process and well-established parliamentary practice to hasten her departure. Other leaders of opposition have faced the blazing double-barrel fury of CBI and ED. 

All this action distracts us from debating real issues that concern us. The actual state of the economy—behind the veil of the GDP numbers—inflation, unemployment and despair among the youth. One can add to this distressing list the crimes again women and resurgence of terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. Continued ethnic violence has shown no signs of abating. The self-imposed code of conduct by the media has ensured that no bad news is reported. Nothing should be allowed to spoil the feel-good mood. 

In recent months, the international milieu has changed dramatically. Most of the developments are adverse to our national interest. The prime minister and his able EAM have valiantly confronted the hostile headwinds. But, how long can the duo steer the ship in stormy waters?

Very soon the campaign for election in other states and for the Lok Sabha will begin. The least we can do is to focus on issues rather than individuals. India, a great pluralistic civilisation, can’t belittle itself with closed minds and mouths shut tight.

Pushpesh Pant

Former professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

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