By Amulya Ganguli
The enforcement directorate’s relentless pursuit of the Congress and other opposition parties can prove to be counter-productive in the long run.
For a start, the impression can grow that the supposedly autonomous agency is being less than professional in its targeting of the non- BJP parties. The narcotic bureau’s botched inquiries into the drug-related charges against Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan, can substantiate this belief.
Besides, the Congress’s determined resistance to the probes against it can have two effects. One is to rev up the party’s generally moribund organizational structure, and the other is to spread the message of the government’s “misuse” of the so-called caged parrots against the BJP’s political opponents. It is a charge which will not be disbelieved by sizeable sections of the population.
That the BJP is uneasy about the perception of playing hooky with the rule book is evident from its irate response to the Congress’s comments on the arrests being courted by the party’s senior leaders as well as the rank and file.
Otherwise, the BJP would not have wheeled out a senior leader like Ravi Shankar Prasad to argue that the Congress’s references to inflation and unemployment were nothing but “bahana” or excuses to take to the streets to protect the Nehru-Gandhi family from the accusation of wrong-doing.
The BJP also has a ready answer to the charge against it of undermining democracy, as levelled by Rahul Gandhi. It is to recall the Emergency of 1975-77 which remains an albatross round the Congress’s neck.
However, since two wrongs do not make a right, it is doubtful for how long the BJP can depend on the references to the Congress’s misdeeds of nearly half a century ago to deflect attention from the allegations of questionable policies today.
The Congress may derive some satisfaction from its capability to mobilize fairly large number of supporters in Delhi and other towns to protest against the enforcement directorate’s action against the party’s first family.
But what is bound to bother it nevertheless is how the BJP can manage to ride the choppy waters of inflation and unemployment despite the Congress’s strenuous efforts.
None of the latter’s diatribes on the Rafael aircraft deal and the Pegasus snooping device have succeeded in unsettling the “chowkidar” (guard) who is supposed to be a “chor” (thief). Evidently, either the people pay no heed to such allegations against the BJP or the ruling party’s credibility is too solid for the charges to breach it. On both counts, the failure is the Congress’s, for it has been unable to earn the people’s trust or undermine the BJP’s reputation.
The Congress’s present tactics are, of course, defensive in nature. It is seen to be battling against heavy odds since the party has been unable to rally any other opposition party to come to its aid. A probable reason for the Congress’s loneliness is the Nehru-Gandhi family’s stranglehold on the party.
It is no secret that many of those who have drifted away from the Congress like Sharad Pawar or Mamata Banerjee or Amrinder Singh have done so because of the family’s unwillingness to accommodate them.
This is also true of Himanta Biswa Sarma and Jagan Mohan Reddy, both of whom are today chief ministers of their respective states. If the Congress had been openminded enough to give them enough political space, they might have remained in the party and made it much stronger than it is today.
As long as the family monopolises its grip on the Congress, making it impossible for anyone in the organization to rise to the top, the party will not be able to hold the BJP to account on its many faults, including the worldwide belief that its reign is eroding India’s democratic standing. It is for this reason that it is said that the family is the BJP’s greatest asset.
However, there are curious similarities between the BJP and the Congress in this respect. Just as the Congress is sorely dependent on the Nehru-Gandhis to stay afloat, the BJP cannot do without Narendra Modi. It is patent enough that the party will enter a rocky, uncertain phase in Modi’s absence.
True, virtually all Indian parties revolve round one person – whether it is the Trinamool Congress or the DMK or the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Ravi Shankar Prasad has mocked the Congress for the lack of internal democracy. But this is true of all parties.
Unless the parties develop robust organizational structures based on an ideological base – not the BJP’s polarising communalism or the Trinamool’s vacuous “ma, mati, manush” chant (the Congress’s ideology remains unclear) – they will be afraid of falling apart in the absence of a dominant figure. This fear also makes some of them susceptible to the “misuse” of investigative agencies by a ruthless adversary.(IPA Service)