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In The Karnataka Election, The Congress Lost Ground – And So Did Democracy

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is only 38 years old in comparison to the grand old Indian National Congress, which is 132 years old. However, the latest blow to the 132-year-old party in taking forward its prospects came in the form of the Assembly elections in Karnataka, where it is likely to lose ground. At least, the latest developments say this.

The Congress has been losing several assembly elections – except for Punjab, where it rode on anti- incumbency and other factors, and there too, it was not in a direct contest with the BJP. Other than that, the party seems to have lost the ground everywhere.

In Manipur and Goa, they were in a position to form governments, but they could not. Why could it not manage to form the government? Has the party leadership at the state level vanished? Is the national leadership unable to feel the pulse on the ground? Or is there any other reason?

The grand-old party has a rich history of having been the most powerful political organisation in the country in the country. It governed the country for several decades, boasting of leaders like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi – and of course, the first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru.

On the other hand, the BJP is a relatively-new party, but it would seem that it has been able to consolidate itself in a much lesser time. Today, it controls the majority of the states, through elected governments. It is governing the country with a government that has the absolute majority at the Centre – which, in itself, was historic for the party and the nation.

The leader of the current government is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the undisputed leader of the BJP. But, at the same time, it also needs to be understood that the BJP has a fine state-level leadership in line. The organisational leader is Amit Shah, the president of the saffron brigade. He seems to be ready always, and he channelises the party’s resources in a streamlined way. Touring different states, attending religious and cultural occasions are all part of his strategy.

The leadership section of the Congress’ website seems to have only one name – Rahul Gandhi. On the other hand, the BJP’s website mentions the names of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi.

The point here is that, going by their website, it would seem that Congress’ leadership stops right at Rahul Gandhi. This may not be a wrong strategy, considering the fact that he is a Gandhi, but he also seems to be lacking advisors who can suggest and guide him on issues related to the realities of ground-level politics – a politics which is deeply rooted in the villages, and concerns the women and the poor, underprivileged sections. Certainly, Rahul Gandhi is no less of a politician – he is absolutely capable, provided the right strategies and tactics. However, he also needs to tour while also understanding the demands of time.

In the Karnataka election, even the former CM Siddaramaiah lost one of his seats, despite using a powerful socio-cultural tactic – ensuring the minority status to the Lingayat community. Although it has opted for a coalition with the Janata Dal (Secular), there’s no denying the fact that it has lost ground. One of the more obvious reasons for this would be the anti-incumbency factor. Yet, looking at the past performances of the party, it would be difficult to pinpoint anti-incumbency as the only reason for its losses.

What changes the Congress needs to bring about is perhaps best known to its own members. For the BJP, however, it is a win-win situation. Still, at the end of the day, it’s all about the people’s support – and till the time it can ensure such support, they can govern the nation. At the same time, since India is a democracy, it needs a strong opposition for its healthy functioning.

Furthermore, whether it is the BJP or the Congress that’s in power, and irrespective of whether left-wing or right-wing ideologies are on the rise, the Constitution is supreme. This supremacy should be upheld so that the people’s rights are protected and lawfully enforced without discrimination. Whenever a government does not function according to the procedures established by the Constitution, it is the duty of the opposition to counter it and ensure that everything happens in accordance with the law.

The survival of democracy truly relies on the trust of the people on democratic institutions. (Representative image. Photo by Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

It is the people of this country who decide whether to trust any political party or not. The developments in Karnataka speak much about the the nature of politics being practised by our ‘leaders’. To win state elections,the political parties are doing whatever they can. The ‘vacuum’ in the law is being used by the people in power, skilfully. Ultimately, it’s democracy that’s defeated.

The parties must understand that today’s India is not the India of the past. People understand things well now and the way politics is ‘being played’ by parties, common people may perhaps not tolerate this for long. A democracy is constituted of the people, by the people and for the people. Until and unless democratic institutions are not protected and cherished, no one can develop the spirit of true nationalism. Projecting illusions won’t help much.

The views expressed are purely personal. In the article, the author does not endorse or support any political party.

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