Monorityism is now a game of diminishing returns
Article first published in @abplive.in click here to read
As per a report in the Economic Times, an introspection exercise within the Congress has pinned the responsibility for its drubbing in Uttar Pradesh on its alliance with the Samajwadi Party. The party elders feel the SP association made the Congress appear like a “Muslim Party”. It is interesting that the leader presiding over the deliberations, Ghulam Nabi Azad, is a Muslim.
Just a few days ago, another Congress stalwart, Veerappa Moily, warned the party of getting too closely identified with “one community”. No prizes for guessing, which community he had in mind. Around the same time, the West Bengal Chief Minister sent out Hanuman Jayanti greetings over Twitter and her party cadre actively participated in Ram Navami celebrations in the state.
Is this, therefore, the dawn of a realisation of “minority-ism” having turned into a game of diminishing returns? Are BJP’s rivals beginning to concede the obvious that, mainstream Hindus cannot be taken for granted any longer?
As opposition parties scramble to cobble together an understanding to choose a consensus candidate for the upcoming Presidential Elections, it poses an existentialist dilemma for them. So far they have tried to cover the union of strange bedfellows with the fig leaf of secularism. Now they will have to shed the veil and admit that it is just a survival strategy to stop BJP at any cost. Otherwise, how does one explain the coming together of archenemies like the Marxists and Trinamool?
This is likely to set in motion a new political chemistry that can have interesting ramifications in the coming months, of which the Rashtrapati Bhavan will only be the first testing laboratory. Though at present everyone seems to be talking to each other, the dynamics of the dialogue will determine the going forward strategy of the parties with an eye on the big draw of 2019.
The under-currents of tension between Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar in Bihar are neither a secret nor without substance. In fact, there are strong rumours of an imminent break-up. If that is really on the cards, Nitish Kumar can hardly be expected to align against BJP on its choice of President. Similarly, the fault lines in the Samajwadi Party are showing. It will also not be easy for the feisty Yadavs to swallow the blame for Congress’ abysmal show in UP.
But, most significantly, the Congress itself is under stress.With the list of defectors increasing how sure it can be of delivering the required number count to its allies?
They cannot also count on either DMK or the new AIADMK to burn their bridges with the BJP.
The defining quality of the present leadership of BJP is its ability to maintain secrets and keep the opposition guessing. This is an art so far only the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty was known to posses. Therefore, they can spring a surprise in the end that could scuttle all the careful calculations of the Marxist mathematicians. After all, the BJP had chosen Dr Abdul Kalam and what prevents them from stumping the Opposition with a tribal candidate this time around?
Modi can also pull out an ace by requesting Pranab Mukherjee, with whom he has enjoyed an excellent working relationship, to stay on for a second term.
Strategy cannot be either rigid or static.
Narendra Modi and Amit Shah understand this better than most of their contemporaries. So, if the opposition is beginning to feel the pushback of Hindu voter mobilisation, the BJP is not sitting complacently. This is visible in its Dalit outreach and soft overtures to the ‘nationalist’ Muslims (distinct from secessionists, Jihadis, terror sympathisers and illegal immigrants). If the Yogi administration is able to make the ethnic, India-loving Muslim community feel more secure and reach them the fruits of development, BJP would win the hearts, if not also the votes, of a large section of their community most certainly weaning them away from the Congress.
This once again brings home the point that mere “anti BJP-ism” cannot be a lasting agenda. Mere ganging up without a common ideology and conflicting ambitions cannot be a strategy. The Opposition has to reinvent itself, like the BJP has. But, none of the present crop of Opposition leaders seems capable of doing that at this point of time. The older generation seem well past their sell-by date. The younger ones have belied their early promise. It can be a long and frustrating wait before the phoenix rises again.