Narendra Modi continues to draw huge crowds wherever he goes. In Meerut, he was animated, angry, reaching out with what he would like to prioritize if he is elected the prime minister of India. He said he was ashamed of the brutal assault on and death of a young man from Arunachal Pradesh, the son of a Congress MLA, and drew much applause from the crowd.
Manmohan Singh, a Rajya Sabha member from Assam, has not said a word yet on the horror of increasing racist attacks on Indians from the Northeast who are living in Delhi. The PM has, once again, been pipped to the post by Modi, who does not waste a moment to emphasize the pathetic silence, lethargic intervention and seeming lack of concern of the Central government about the gruesome acts that are being perpetrated by goons who manage to escape the law time and again as they attack innocent citizens. Modi is grabbing eyeballs on every issue that comes his way.
A couple of political counterpoints to the Bharatiya Janata Party juggernaut that is rolling through Uttar Pradesh are the ‘federal front’ and, now, the ‘third front’, both of which have brought the focus back on the supreme confusion and contradictions that were a part of such ‘fronts’ in the not-so-distant past. These weaknesses had disabled growth, development and a quick march towards a new, dynamic information age. It is unfortunate that these failed experiments have not led to a change in such old rhetoric or demands. The same politicians, desperate to grab power at the Centre but without the statesmanship that India is yearning for to save it from economic and social slaughter, are vying to revive such discredited political formations.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, Nitish Kumar, J. Jayalalithaa, Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan are trying to garner the support of Naveen Patnaik, Mamata Banerjee, Jaganmohan Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu to help their respective groups achieve a sound set of numbers that would enable them to form larger, diverse coalitions. Prejudices related to vote banks, caste and class would, once again, be used to cook up a politically untenable khichree. Threats and blackmail will raise their ugly faces if such disparate groups were to assume power. The nation will take quite a few steps back in time, and the opportunity to reform education, health, social security and town and city management would be lost. The degradation, in turn, would put India into an economic mire.
The days of messy, opportunistic coalitions are a reality and a consequence of a failed political past. In this context, both the Congress and the BJP, the two national parties, have let the nation down by their inability to reinvent themselves and to bring change to every layer and level. The Congress is unable to speak in a straight and convincing language that the people are straining to hear. It has multiple leaders but lacks a vision for the future. It keeps harping on its past and its near-forgotten strengths that belong to another century. The old and the infirm in the party get Rajya Sabha seats, while the fate of bright young party workers is left hanging in the air. Their performance is seldom judged on the basis of tangible criteria.
A clumsy, corrupt, self-seeking and arrogant leadership always spells the ‘end of empire’. This is a historical fact. A party’s inability to see and hear truths and sounds that surround the outside space, and its stilted self-righteousness, always foreshadow the fall of the curtain. A new play, with fresh characters in search of a new kind of authority and leader, will have to be written for the curtain to be raised again in the years to come.