No victory is final, no defeat is fatal

SS DhawanUpdated: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 04:19 AM IST
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The message emanating from Gujarat is emphatic but which the BJP may not hear in the saffron din. That such is the fickle nature of politics that no party can take its support for granted; no victory is complete and no defeat is final. It is a continuing contest that need not be won every time. The BJP needed this grim reminder because like the Congress of yesteryear, it is beginning to suffer from the delusion that it has the inalienable right to rule the country and it alone is the harbinger of good governance.

This can become a malady: Because once the nation sleep walks into into this “good governance” trap, the masses are also lulled into believing that a single party’s political domination is a must to fix our myriad problems. No wonder the BJP loses no opportunity to drum it into its captive TV audience that the Congress can now be written off as a political party, which will self-destruct sooner or later.The entire ‘Cong-mukt Bharat’ hypothesis of the saffron party hangs by this highly toxic thread of political hegemony that it is seeking to establish.

For the Congress, which, it seemed, had mastered the art of dodging political conflict — having handed over Arunachal, Uttarakhand , Goa and UP to the BJP on a platter — the Rajya Sabha outcome in Gujarat is a brief haitus in what has been a litany of losses since 2014, the win in Punjab notwithstanding. But this was not just another Rajya Sabha poll which got messy because of the atmospherics, the cross voting and because the secrecy of the ballot had been compromised.

It was rather a game of blind man’s bluff in which both the mainstream parties were feeling equally spooked. Largely because it was a showdown between BJP party president Amit Shah and Sonia Gandhi’s lieutenant Ahmed Patel; incidentally, both men have a chequered history of shadow boxing and behind-the-scene shenanigans — a throwback to the heady times when PM Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat.

What came as a pleasant surprise in the political cliffhanger was the daring with which Congress stalwarts like P Chidambaram and Ghulam Nabi Azad closed ranks and scrambled to redeem their lost political space, which they have over the years ceded to the Rahul brigade. Mr Gandhi, of course, was missing from the proceedings — the import of which was not lost on observers who have seen a much diminished and marginalised Ahmed Patel operating in the lengthening shadows of the Congress heir apparent.

Sadly, Rahul was invisible even when the republic had voted for a new President — an election that had also witnessed a new political alignment and extensive cross voting. That, in turn, gives BJP flamethrowers a not so flimsy pretext to point out that the ‘Yuvraj’ has not only rendered his party politically redundant but also eminently unelectable in what might be its twilight years. Understandably, well wishers dread the political vacuum that may arise post Sonia, given the political naivety of Rahul and the absence of a second-rung leadership; all this does not augur well for our bipolar polity either. However, there is still magic in the name Gandhi; as long as it remains the core and the kernel of the Congress, he will continue to be relevant and pose a formidable challenge to the BJP.

There was another takeaway from the election that will surely resonate with the masses but which the BJP may not have the courage to accept — that the ruling party may have overweening control over the levers of public opinion but the Election Commission cannot not be intimidated by political rhetoric. In a classic case of electoral overreach and political overkill, the BJP spokespersons came up with shifting  and disingenuous explanations to counter the Congress objections. But sometimes when politicians overstate their case, they destroy the argument.

Apparently, PM Modi and his man Friday are following in the footsteps of the Congress in their attempt to keep a tenacious hold on the power structure but should the BJP do so without bothering to imbibe the attendant lessons?

Such is its delusion of grandeur that the BJP would like to consign the Congress to the archives with the likes of Amit Shah even rubbishing it recently as a fragment of the freedom struggle that should have been mothballed after Independence.

Yet, there is a lurking irony here: because the entire BJP political construct is also built around its spiteful chant against the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty! Most of the political baggage that the BJP lugs around with such chivalrous enthusiasm carries the imprint of the Congress. To that extent, the BJP cannot be Congress Mukt.

The author is a former editor of The Free Press Journal.

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