From “Scandalous Nehru” to “Tinpot Shastri”, from “Wicked Indira Gandhi” to her “self-serving” son-Rajiv Gandhi, from “Insignificant Narasimha Rao” to the “Italian-born” Sonia Gandhi and “mute” Manmohan Singh. And now “Pappu” Rahul Gandhi. The Bharatiya Janata Party has branded them all.
Amid an exponential rise in the politics of marketing and branding, a pitiable Congress failed to counter even a single one of these deplorable slanders. The BJP kept shaming its 70 years of governance, and forget about defending themselves with full integrity, they didn’t even point out their remarkable economic and social development data from the last ten years.
Well, understanding the Indian National Congress has always been a challenge, mostly because it has never remained ‘constant’. Be it in terms of ideology or organisational structure, the INC has changed itself time and again. The Congress under Nehru and the early years of Indira saw a socialist approach towards development, which changed drastically under Rajiv and then under Narasimha Rao.
The voters in India have mostly supported the party which is able to present a strong and confident case of its ideology. No matter how deceiving and contradictory their ideology sounds, as long as they have it and present it right, they will win. It is in this sense that the Indian National Congress has had an edge over every other party in India. Whatever their approach might be, they always had an ideology and a vision ready to present to their voters – until Sonia Gandhi happened.
Sonia Gandhi, with her coalition gimmicks, led INC to a path of victory even without a political ideology. It is safe to say that despite several wonderful initiatives like NREGA, RTI, RTE, Food Security Bill and the futuristic Aadhar – she failed to stitch these into a political ideology in sync with Indian ambitions. And it is this ideological void which the BJP countered with their softcore Hindutva, Modinomics and Gujarat Model of Development (at least until late 2016, after which hardcore Hindutva has been dominating). It is essential to note here that it was never BJP’s Hindutva that led them to power, be it in 1998 or 2014. But if the Congress fails to fill the void, I am afraid that the reality is Hindutva might lead BJP to power in 2019.
The BJP very smartly has been setting the ground for the same over the past few years by polarising the nation on the basis of religion, caste, language, and even water, and yet they are successfully painting an image wherein it is the Congress which is responsible for all these deeds (as seen in the Gujarat Elections). They have been altering the conscience of the people of this nation by feeding them extensively dangerous content through social media and WhatsApp. They have been dominating a certain section of media without letting the general public get wary of it. How? By saying its the other half of the media that is being dominated by the Congress, and their half is just the neutral one.
And if not stopped in 2019- when they will be winning an election purely on the basis of Hindutva – defeating them in future will become much more difficult for Congress. The BJP will get enough boost and confidence to fulfil the core agenda of RSS, an agenda which it has been pushing since its inception – that of a Hindu nation. And unfortunately, like caste-based reservation, there won’t be any going back.
Unlike UPA-I, which presented NREGA, RTI and its admirable economic and social agenda as its flagship policies with a generous enough impact on the lives of people, the BJP has nothing to present except Swachh Bharat Abhiyan – which too is limited to just railway stations. Their Jan Dhan Yojna had little impact on lives of account holders and Make in India hasn’t really been able to deliver jobs and revenue (expect to a select few campaign donors- Baba Ramdev included). Demonetisation and GST will certainly demonise them, and the rest are repackaged and rebranded policies – some of the UPA era and some even older. Now, one might argue that these repackaged policies are being implemented more enthusiastically – but the truth is the people have seen it all in UPA-I and early UPA-II years and they won’t vote in the name of these repackaged policies.
So what else is left with Modi? Hindutva. Gujarat was an example of this – when everything else failed, Hindutva saved them. But as always, people showed their resistance to voting just in the name of Hindutva, reducing their tally significantly.
Congress needs to present its own ideology – whatever it might be, people need an ideology to vote for. And they need it immediately, otherwise, the nation will vote for Hindutva. Or, for all the optimistic readers out there, let’s hope together that the BJP changes its path, and presents new and real flagship policies in Budget 2018.