By S. Sethuraman
Political turbulence in Maharashtra and ruling BJP’s military-style command to fight to hold power at all levels after 2024 Lok Sabha polls and charging all opposition and anything else on the way as corruption, characterise the national scene amid concerns for survival of Indian Democracy.
The sense of pride that India ought to have for a Constitutional Democracy has been eroding steadily with autonomous institutions tight-regulated followed by plans to make laws compatible for a majoritarian Hindu nation and rule of law ..
Pathetic has been the way every one in positions of power, institutions, not excluding academic, and Government as a whole strictly adhering to defending whatever happens across the nation. Apart from inherent discipline that a majoritarian, no less authoritarian, regime would imply, a permissible liberal sense of order or democratic exercise has also been lacking.
Manipur has become a classic example, more of indifference at the highest levels even as ethnic fights have cost scores of lives in a strategic North-East State. That was the most typical situation when the Prime Minister could have taken the initiative for consultations on a wider scale, if need be an all party commitment too, on preserving the integrity of a region culturally rich and its more harmonious future. But that would have meant Mr Modi conceding some ground for the Congress and other parties.
Also, on the other side, one cannot miss the more destabilizing developments among political parties trying to array themselves for a combined opposition onslaught on the 10-year rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, come 2024. Indeed, Prime Minister’s style of campaigning at present is not overlooking the invisible anti incumbency factor that brought to end the BJP rule in Karnataka in the recent assembly polls.
Thus, electorally and morally, the Prime Minister wants BJP to continue to reign supreme. So, corruption slapped on all non-BJP parties which are attempting to unite against his party, PM Modi has forcefully declared in electoral language that for the Congress “corruption is the biggest ideology” whatever it may mean.
The Prime Minister has much to show by way of accomplishments in sectors like infrastructure (with high speed Vande Bharat rails), even if his Government’s Minister of Railways has seen to it that staff held responsible by CBI gets punished for the Balasore triple train disaster in Orissa (June 2, claiming 294 lives – record in rail wreckage and human lives).
Apart from some troublesome developments on India’s Ladakh border and China’s moves toward Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, the Prime Minister has managed to hold his G-20 chairmanship but his tact has not lessened the brutalities in the Ukraine war, started by India’s close Russian friend V Putin. The disastrous impact of the Ukraine war on global economy leading to recession and monetary regulations to contain inflation (India not excluded) would take a few years to overcome, even if some truce takes place in the coming months.
Now, back to the national scene, the Modi Government is greatly encouraged by the break-up in parties like Shiv Sena and Mr Sharad Pawar’s NCP, part of which led by Mr Ajit Pawar is in dalliance with both divided Shiv Sena and BJP running the Maharashtra Government. The Assembly Speaker has so far not acted to ascertain the strength of the ruling dispensation in terms of the Apex Court judgement on Maharashtra matter.
The assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan this year, two of them under the Congress, have become the immediate focus for the BJP leaders in their efforts to regain their hold with a determining influence on the outcome of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
For the Congress, the acclaimed national party, is no longer in shambles but it cannot fight to win power, given its relative weaknesses across regions, unless it develops an accommodative stance toward regional parties. More importantly, there has to be a political, economic and social narrative commonly evolved by the Congress and regional parties that agree to go together at this early stage, later the more difficult seat-sharing phase.
Hopefully, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge would judiciously guide the inter-party discussions, first at Bengaluru by the middle of this month probably to work out apolitical and electoral narrative. Some welcome steps for the Congress to get the party well united to go through and retain present hold in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan while striving for recapturing power in Madhya Pradesh. (IPA Service)