The famous Italian social scientist Vilfredo Pareto talks about the idea of the “circulation of elites” in his theory of ‘regime change’. In this, Pareto argues that changes in the regime occur not when rulers/government are overthrown from below, but when one elite replaces another. What we have been witnessing in our country, since 1967, is the same.
The Jharkhand Assembly results also proved Pareto’s idea of “circulation of elites”. The results from Jharkhand again establishes the fact that the status quo would be maintained in Indian politics, and it is not possible for the Modi-Shah combine to replace the status quo in such a diverse and pluralist India. Since the first general election, Congress remained in power absolutely till 1967, about which Rajni Kothari coined the term “Congress System“.
But, with Rammanohar Lohia’s idea of the anti-‘Congressism’ alliance, the ‘Congress System‘ got its first major setback in the 1967 Assembly elections in which non-Congress governments were formed in seven states. Again, the ‘Congress System’ came back in 1971.
The 1977 elections were an ‘abnormal’ election. But again, the ‘Congress System’ continued from 1980 till 1989. The second major change in Indian politics occurred in 1989 when Congress was replaced by the Janta Alliance and led to the start of the Mandal era which completely changed the political dynamics of the Hindi heartland states with the rise of Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh, Sibu Soren in the then-South Bihar (now Jharkhand), etc.
These people and their parties were the ‘new elites‘ and have been responsible for the tectonic shift in Indian politics. This was the period when the Other Backward Castes took the center stage in Indian politics. The ‘Congress System’ suffered big losses due to Mandal politics. The rise of BJP or the Kamandal (a metaphor for Hindutva politics) politics was the interchange of parties for the old Congress loyalists castes like the Brahmins in UP and Bihar, and the Thakurs in Uttar Pradesh.
The first serious challenge to these new elites, or the regional chatrap, in the Hindi heartland, was in 2014 when Narendra Modi decimated the regional parties, and BJP won 73 out of 80 seats in UP, 31 out of 40 seats in Bihar, and 12 out of 14 seats in Jharkhand.
The assembly election results of Jharkhand in 2014, Uttar Pradesh in 2017, and the parliamentary election results of 2019 was somehow proving that the change in Indian politics which happened in 1989-90 and remained constant till 2014 was changing and the status quo is being replaced by the BJP system which is nothing but the replica of the Congress system of the 1960s to 1970s during Indira Gandhi’s period.
But, after the 2019 General elections, the three assembly elections results proved to us that the status quo and the regional parties, which gained ground during the 1990s, would remain the major power centres in their own states, and the Congress would be the fulcrum of opposition unity against the BJP.
The victory of Jharkhand for JMM-Congress, the opposition alliance in Maharashtra and the resurgent Congress in Haryana shows that the idea of Congress-mukth Bharat (Congress-free India) or the idea of decimation or non-existence of regional parties is a eutopia.
With the results of Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Haryana what is clearly illustrated is that the parliamentary elections of 2019 was possibly just an ‘abnormal’ election due to the ‘Balakot effect,’ like the 1984 election, which happened just after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
The 2014 election can be considered a ‘normal election’ because the BJP won mainly because of anti-incumbency against the ten-year Congress rule. The graph of the BJP has decreased significantly, state-wise, since December 2017 when it was controlling 71% of the votes of the Indian population.
Now, it is hardly controlling 34%, or 13 states, including alliances. What we are witnessing is a situation like in 1999, when the BJP, under Vajpayee, was in power at the centre and in major states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Chattisgarh, etc., the opposition was in command.
The #JMM legislature party will meet today in #Ranchi to elect its leader. This meeting will be held under the chairmanship of the party President Shibu Soren. JMM Executive President #HemantSoren is likely to be elected as its legislature party leader. pic.twitter.com/yFxvTfbEXc
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) December 24, 2019
The results of Jharkhand clearly signals that the absolute rule of BJP is just a eutopia, and the idea of “circulation of elites” would remain strong in Indian politics. As Vilfredo Pareto argued ‘‘the role of common masses in these changes are only of supporters and followers of elites.“