Strange Bedfellows in Indian Politics

Yatindra Bhatnagar

India’s politics, by and large, has been a curious mix of strange bed-fellows coming together for grabbing a chunk of votes and lucrative power even if they cannot hope to get a majority. The Congress Party of towering leaders is no more; it is in the hands of novice, rabble-rousers and unscrupulous new leadership that doesn’t have the large picture of making a great, prosperous and safe India.

These people, and the so-called leaders, want power, by any means, even if to get it they have to cobble up some kind of hodge-podge of an arrangement with parties who have been bitter enemies. The larger party thinks that by getting some others will give them a majority. The smaller and regional satraps think that making a sort of coalition may give them some pieces of the bigger pie. Maybe they can act as king-makers.

That is the reason they come together – no ideological convergence, no common program for the good of the people, no solid projects for development and also no past record of any substantial achievement.

The dying Congress Party under the new and restless leader Rahul Gandhi (who can change into a Hindu, a Muslim a Christian and all the above whenever it suits him and his new platform) has got some big  boost recently. With victory in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the recent mini-elections, Rahul has started seeing the Prime Minister’s post coming near.

He is ambitious – no harm in that – but his tactics leave much room for criticism. In politics there is ample room for arriving at a minimum common program to contest elections with the support of like-minded parties. There is no need to change colors , principles, and stooping to the low level of dividing the country on the basis of caste, sub castes and more sub castes, slogans and uncivil gestures and campaigning. It’s absolutely wrong to be rowdy and becoming rabble-rouser to depend on reckless slogans and actions to influence the voters and mislead them.

Strangely, this is also happening in the United States where the country, its security, prosperity and economy is forgotten in the senseless tirade against the president for whatever he does to make America great again.

The same is happening in India where all the development, security steps and economic progress is forgotten in the move to raise slogans, create confusion, prop-up known corrupt and anti-social narrow-minded ‘leaders’ to make a conglomerate of politicians to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

The political rise of Rahul Gandhi is based on slogans and reckless actions such as large scale waiver of farmers’ loans, and supporting the demands of small communities for favored treatment. There is a demand for ‘reservation’ for Patidars, Thakurs, Jats, and so many others without any consideration for their economic status. In such a situation Modi government recently took an admirable step in assuring a 10 percent quota for really poor among those who could not be covered under the already privileged classes for decades.

Reservations for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and later for Other Backward Classes had deprived the poor among the so-called Upper Class of opportunities. Now Modi government corrected that anomaly with a 10% reservation. This should be the first step towards the abolition of reservation on the bases of caste, and to make it on economic condition.

The absurd situation prevails where rich SC, ST and OBC families still enjoy all the quotas and privileges and the poor among the Upper Classes languish. This has been now corrected.

On this move the opposition had no option but to support the Government.

This is a solid step for the common people not based on caste. So caste-based parties and their supporters lost and a level field is being created. This is a fitting reply to those who want more sub-castes to get the benefit.

Coming back to the larger collaboration among the opposition parties suffice it to say that divergent groups coming together could never give a stable government, anywhere, anytime. There is nothing common between Congress and Lalu Prasad’s RJD, or between Samajwadi Party and Manavati’s BSP. Andhra’s Naidu wants special status for his state.  

The Communist Party and ultra- Muslim groups also joining such a hodge-podge of politicians with the aim to oppose – and hope to form a government - is totally wrong and opportunist. With the churning of the political pot some attempts might result in more confusion. Some of the moves might be non-starters.

However, the political scene in India has become more interesting, and of course, more intense. The general elections are just a couple months away and the interesting development will be eagerly watched - more so with Rahul Gandhi’s political vacation in the Middle East where he is continuing his tirade against Modi-led government of India. Watch out!