In his book Future Shock, Alvin Toffler said that psychologists and politicians alike are puzzled by the seemingly irrational resistance to change exhibited by certain individuals and groups. “By making imaginative use of change to channel change, we can not only spare ourselves the trauma of future shock, we can reach out and humanise distant tomorrows,” posited Toffler.
The CPI(M) and the Congress are in shock and more setbacks may be in store for them in the future as they are displaying stubborn resistance to change. In sharp contrast, the BJP is a party, whose DNA is evolving fast and reaping huge electoral dividends.
The saffron party is no longer rigid or doctrinaire. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is deftly adapting to changing national and global situations. The BJP’s phenomenal growth, from two Lok Sabha MPs in 1984 to 282 now, is due to its ability to be flexible and tweak its ideology to address changing political dynamics.
The tactical move to dilute its ideology by jettisoning three contentious issues — the uniform civil code, Article 370 and Ayodhya temple construction —helped the BJP to attract secular allies in 1998 and 1999. And circa 2014, Modi is emulating Atal Bihari Vajpayee by talking about building an inclusive society and outrunning the Congress on the economic reforms agenda.
Even if the reform initiatives of the party can be debated, the BJP has managed to change the public
perception. Once a political pariah which was derisively viewed as a party of traders, the BJP is now discussing FDI in retail and has become investor friendly. However, the sporadic communal flare-ups are a blot on the party. Sectarian eruptions should now end in line with the party’s new image.
It is ironic that the CPI(M), a party with a bank of intellectual capital, is still debating the correctness of the political-tactical Jalandhar line of 1978 while the Congress is reliving its past glory, erroneously hoping that the BJP’s victory is cyclical which will soon pave the way for the GoP’s return.
The CPI(M) lost West Bengal in 2011 after ruling for 34 years and three years later its Lok Sabha tally shrunk to an incredible two. The party has not been able to expand outside is traditional bastions and yet the Marxist leaders cling to an outdated ideology. Likewise, the Congress never recovered in UP and Bihar where it lost power a quarter century ago. The last Congress government in Tamil Nadu was in 1967. Nearly half a century later it is fighting for survival in the Dravidian state.
The CPI(M) supremo Prakash Karat recently said that there was no question of any electoral alliance with the Congress “at any corner” of the country, while maintaining that his party will cooperate with all secular, democratic forces to mobilise people.
The fear of Modi may spur some understanding among these parties but unless the Congress and the CPM, the only two parties which consistently oppose the BJP, sink their ideological differences and join hands to provide a solid secular, democratic platform, around which other like-minded parties can coalesce, the fight against a resurgent BJP will be tough.
The CPI(M) has been fighting too many demons at the same time such as US imperialism, multinationals, Indian corporates, communal forces and the Congress. It is time the Marxists trimmed its enemy list to make the fight effective and meaningful.
The Chinese communist party has successfully tweaked its ideology, the RSS is backing Modi with his reform agenda and even Pope Francis is trying to effect revolutionary changes in the Catholic Church. Consistency is the virtue of fools and change is something that is constant. History shows that individuals and organisations that resist change wither away.
Kay Benedict is a freelance journalist
The views expressed by the author are personal