Whatever the Congress speaks, it sounds like an evangelist’s outpouring. The party was no different a few days ago at its meeting of some 100 delegates, comprising Working Committee members and state presidents. The party again acted like a preacher who wanted to stir up feelings of revival. It cannot be done by merely attacking the opponents. There has to be answers to the questions on the ever-rising prices and the never-ending scams.
The delegates and other supporters who return to their field have to tell the people among whom they live or work what are the replies they have brought back. There have been scams costing the exchequer billions of rupees and inordinate delays in taking steps to stop the down sliding economy. Still, there is no official explanation.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s slogan, ‘we will overcome’ or the Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s attack for levelling baseless charges will not do. The party men are not gullible as they have been in the past. They want proofs and measure them against their living conditions.
The over confidence, rather arrogance, that the Congress leaders effuse, particularly the seemingly humble Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, has not gone down well. People have not been taken in by the promises. The government’s performance is pretty poor. True, the general elections are still two years away. Yet this period is not long enough for the government to take pertinent steps which would perk the economy and the life of the voters.
Somehow, I was expecting drastic changes in the cabinet, a bigger role for Rahul Gandhi, and innovative economic policies to give the message of a new resolve and new measures to reflect a better way of governance. The hedging because of impending Presidential election is understandable. Yet the delegates and others cannot say that the paralysis of government is because the party wants first to install its own person at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Congress has missed a great opportunity if it had anything up its sleeve. I am confirmed in my view that the party is bereft of ideas and does not know how to control prices or to facilitate more production in factories and fields. It seems to have lost its way.
The seemingly alternative Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is neither here nor there. The criticism of the ruling party, with a pinch of parochialism, completes the BJP’s story from A to Z. Lately, it has smelt power. It believes that the people’s alienation with the Congress will divert them to the BJP. But when its own house is not in order, how can it expect to net the catch it wants ?
That the RSS will continue to dominate it is not something the party can wish away even if the bulk of it wants to have a different image. One, it cannot deny the parenthood because the RSS gave birth to the Jana Sangh, later renamed as the BJP, to be the organisation’s political arm. Two, the party does not have the cadre of its own. The leadership, drawn from the middle class, does not like the smell of sweat of the pracharaks (the RSS preachers). But they are their main strength.
The BJP has never been a party in the real sense. It was a reaction to the ousting of old Jana Sangh members by the Janata Party which wanted them to make their promise to cut off links with the RSS good. And the RSS on its part has kept the BJP under its control. Even a tall person like Atal Behari Vajpayee had to wear khaki knickers and stand at attention in the RSS organized drills to show who was the boss. That is the reason why the RSS leaders chip-chop the party in a way they want and whenever they want. BJP chief Nitin Gadkari is the RSS choice and even when he was not to the liking of veteran L.K. Avani or the opposition leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Gadkari was reappointed.
Such an imposition is may be disliked by some members who feel that by this time they have won recognition on their own. Yet they never challenge the RSS because they have seen that a few who did went out unsung and unwept. Since their differences are never over the ideology, they continue to be a part of the big family.
The RSS knows whom to project and when. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has started behaving as if he would be the prime minister when the BJP forms the government after the 2014 general elections. The RSS has criticized the party for having too many persons harboring the ambition of becoming prime minister. Maybe, it feels that it is too early to project Modi. Maybe, it believes that his name will daunt many liberals sitting on the fence thinking to vote for the BJP.
But what the RSS doesn’t seem to realize is that Modi’s candidature will divide the nation which does not accept him in any shape after what he did to the Muslims in Gujarat. He is yet to clear himself from the various cases filed against him. That the Supreme Court misjudged the credentials of former IB chief R.K. Raghavan when it appointed him as head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) which has exonerated Modi does not mean that the mistake cannot be rectified. His report is anything but unbiased. The RSS should wait till Modi is exonerated.
The unhappiness of Adavni is understandable because he led the oustees from the Janata Party to assemble them under the umbrella of the BJP. He finds the RSS, which he served as a loyal soldier, has not allowed him to become the opposition leader of the house, the Lok Sabha. In fact, he owes it to the BJP parliament members who rehabilitated him by creating the position of parliamentary party’s chiarmanship.
People’s dilemma is that both national parties, the Congress and the BJP, riven as they are with groupism and ambitions, do not qualify to lead the nation. How I wish if there were some party, even though small, had the vision to retrieve the country and take it forward. EOM