By Vijay Sanghvi
One step forward two steps backward– the Indian National Congress’s greatest challenge is the leadership issue. It can neither be led by the Gandhi family anymore nor survive without them. The total rout of the Congress in the Delhi Polls is now virtually a history.
The ten million plus Delhi electorate also delivered a similar treatment to the Bharatiya Janata Party. The traumatic shocks to conservative politics in less than a year by the electorate reflects the impatience of voters for delivery of promises of transformation. Narendra Modi promised radical change in governance. Voters, particularly young regardless of their caste and dominion differences voted him to the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. The Congress, which used to hold the fort in Delhi in the last three elections, was stunned.
Photo : Ravi Batra
The electorate waited for the transformation or at least signs of its coming for eight months. All they got was the incessant stream of words and advisories promising heaven in the future. But nothing concrete in grounds. The impatience kept mounting. The generational change in India is catastrophic. Young wants instant delivery of promises. They turn to action on their disappointments or their demands. They delivered a traumatic shock. In eight months, the electorate snatched away all seats from the party and delivered them to AAP, a political organization without structure or ideological commitment. It did not have even expanded vision of the future.
Instead, it adopted an effective method of adirect dialog with voters by reaching them directly to know what their aspirations were and wanted their demands were. Neither of the major parties in the fray gave a thought to what the people wanted. In their offices, they decided what people ought to get. The BJP promised to convert Delhi in a global urban center without thinking about its consequences on the poor eking out a life in poverty and the slums of Delhi. The politicians in the safe havens of their offices were not even aware of their existence of the slums and their problems — except their votes. The Congress was too entangled in its leadership problems.
The Prime Minister had to grapple with internal politics and dissensions because the Sangh leadership had a different design in its mind. It was weary of the NaMo style of functioning since September 2013 when NaMo had forced himself on the Sangh; leaving it no option but to endorse his elevation. He did not consult others in the formulation of the agenda, strategy for the campaign or share dais with others. Every situation remained under his command. NaMo installed Mahatma Gandhi as an icon of his governance with a promise of the grand celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi in 2019 by delivering a clean India. The Sangh responded with an ultimatum for construction of a temple on a controversial site in the same period. NaMo preferred silence even though the controversial conversions aimed to restrain his action plan.
There were signs of growing internal strife within though no one publicly admitted it. The capping decision was to lure the controversial police officer Kiran Bedi to lead the BJP in the state polls. The Sangh resented it, but it did not provide an alternative. It was obvious that NaMo wanted his choice to head the government. However, NaMo’s confidence was shaken by internal assessment that forced him to devote his time, energy and resources to hit out personally at Arvind Kejriwal and his method of fund collections. He chose to address five rallies in the last lap giving away the lack of confidence in the ability to win. The Congress was not even an opponent, and he could not name his real opponent within.
But neither side took cognizance of the rising anger in the youth. They perceived the result of the Lok Sabha election as personal achievement of NaMo in getting 283 of his members on the treasury bench. It was a victory of people an expression of their intense desire to shun conservative politics that hindered their growth. They sought to change and name appeared credible in his promise.
He strived in impressing political leaderships in East and West. He promised predictable policy framework, smoothening of procedural grids. But impressing politicians does not yield results of the flow of investments. Investing capitalists are even more careful in parking their money as they could sense the internal struggle that NaMo was facing and a thin majority he enjoyed. Both sides in the internal struggle may make claims, but they do not become predictable for those who have to risk their money.
There was nothing concrete that the NaMo government could boast. His adversaries sounded pleasant, but no follow-up work was visible like imparting skills to young to make them suitable for works abroad. The impatience ran to the brims and overflowed after they also sensed the tendency to drag politics again towards the old BJP path rather than allow a freeway to NaMo to march ahead. Their anger filled ballot box of unknown factors for they wanted to indicate their anger.
It is a dangerous trend. The vote in the assembly polls is nothing less than a violent expression. Young has preferred ballot to express their anger. But don’t expect them to forgive and forget if even AAP fails in fulfilling its promises to make their life change for better.
The Delhi vote in the not merely rejection of the BJP but also a warning that politicians need to be on their toes to deliver what they promise. They need to behave as representatives and not indulge in a display of arrogance of rulers. Young are no more the meek Praja. There are educated and aware young.