The politics of mobilisation has always been an essential and integral part of the Indian democracy. However, this time the only difference is that instead of talking about substantive issues facing the country, some leaders have debased the standard of political attacks. This deterioration of debate has intensified further after the nomination of Narendra Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
It is not relevant whether it is Modi or the media that have projected the current political context just as one of rivalry between him and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Modi in his speeches, especially those delivered in October and November, has continuously referred to Gandhi as shahzada (prince). The allegation that the Congress is a ‘dynastic’ institution is not relevant to the understanding of the policies and programmes of the party. A party’s politics has to be either supported or exposed. The substantive issues are centered around the politics pursued by the Congress and Gandhi. Modi, further, accused the Congress of dividing the country, starting from Partition (1947) to Telangana.
All these remarks along with some of Gandhi’s forced the Election Commission of India (ECI) to observe on November 28 that “the gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that the ECI has seized petitions from two national parties seeking each other’s derecognition for repeated violations of the model code.”
Therefore, it becomes clear that Modi, for his highly personalised attacks and emotive public speeches, at the helm of public affairs is not a change for the better.
On November 28, Congress president Sonia Gandhi enumerated various social welfare programmes, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Food Security Act, etc, that the UPA government has introduced.
She claimed that these schemes have benefited the whole of India. Now, the performance of the government has to be scrutinised, debated, contested and countered by political opponents. But instead of having a meaningful debate on issues of performance, the political class is busy indulging in the Modi vs Rahul debate.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh claimed that the state’s food law is better than the Centre’s. A national political party like the BJP should not forget that the 28 states and seven Union Territories of India are categorised as highly developed, relatively developed, least developed and backward. And it is for the Centre to pull the least developed and backward states out of misery.
The Centre versus state argument raised by Singh reveals not only complete ignorance of the uneven growth of the regions and sub-regions of the country, it also shows that an all-India party has to have a capacity to think for the whole of India.
CP Bhambhri taught politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University
The views expressed by the author are personal