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The Games They Play

The Games They Play

How justified is expelled VHP leader Pravin Togadia’s embitterment at the ennui shown by the Saffron regime to build the Ram Temple at Ayodhya! 

Hardliners in the Saffron brigade continue to bemoan the fact that in spite of the party having succeeded in making ‘electoral’ conquests and unfurling its flag across the country, almost that is, the BJP is yet to take the ‘temple politics’ that has all along been the main plank on which it has fought elections to a ‘logical conclusion’. As a project pursued in religious idiom by the BJP and its front organizations for political ends, the Mandir-agitation accounted for a rather spectacular change in its fortunes.

The nexus between religion and politics did indeed prove to be extremely rewarding to the BJP.  However, with the ‘Ayodhya mission’ refusing to take off even after so many years of its dramatic debut, it does appear that the temple campaign was religious only in form but political in content.

The disputed site at Ayodhya has since then been a potential place of religious confrontation. The simmering Ram Janmabhoomi issue is that bogey of Hindu radicalism that is raised whenever the Sangh Parivaar envisions an electoral battle, either in the states or at the centre.

Keeping its sights on the general elections in 2019, the BJP, in its quest for political power once again, would effectively exploit the matter that is perceived to be sacrilegious for a particular community, while another gloats in the expectations of a grand religious accomplishment.

However, it does come as a surprise that for a well-informed electorate that believes in giving its mandate to a political dispensation solely on the promises of the ‘Achche Din’ ahead by putting the nation on the path to progress and development, the manner in which it gets swayed by the politics of religion played out by divisive forces is equally alarming.

As the nation continues to be rocked by violent sagas of communal hatred brought about by the machinations of vested interests, there are many who feel that better governance and development should be the barometer of performance of any dispensation in power which eventually ought to decide the response of the electorate to future elections.

Unfortunately, ill-perceived notions of their religion still guide Indians in all such matters. Besides, with the Modi-Shah juggernaut virtually on an unstoppable roll, the BJP has only gone from strength to strength. Moreover, the lack of a strong opposition has allowed the Modi-ensemble to function at will. In a democracy, the main role of the Opposition is to question the government of the day and hold them accountable to the public.

As so rightly said, a vibrant Opposition represents an alternative government and is responsible for challenging the government policies and expected to be brilliant enough to present different ones where appropriate. As and when needed, it should be pulling up the ruling for the various inconsistencies and irregularities observed.

But with the current emphasis in Indian politics being more towards decimating all opposition to have an overwhelming hold on the government, meek and subdued Oppositions have become the order of the day. Ever more so since the BJP-led NDA has assumed power at the centre!

Over a period of four years, with massive electoral wins and alliances, BJP has wrested control of almost all the states too. With Opposition in these states, as well as at the centre, reduced to exhibitions of anti-Modi and Amit Shah invectives that hardly have any substance, it is apparent that the duo’s dream of a ‘vipaksh mukt Bharat’ will soon be a reality.

Occasionally, Oppositions in some states did show some momentary signs of revival, but they remained confined to remonstrations against the authoritarian rule of Modi & Co. Willing itself to come out of the rut that it has virtually pushed itself into, occasional wins in some bye-elections does have the opposition showing glimpses of its old self. But after the initial euphoria over the ‘shocking’ win, it is as if the Opposition has lost steam and once again becomes a caricature of its old bumbling self.

For the Opposition, the spectre of the general elections in 2019 is more scaring than the BJP. With uncertain electoral prospects greeting them, it becomes imperative that the initial concentration is on re-structuring their respective organizations. Forsaking activism that has become the hallmark of opposition to government policies in the country today, it is time the Opposition re-grouped to take on the ruling dispensation with concerning issues that are closer to the hearts of the common man.

Soaring prices of essential commodities, unemployment and such other relevant matters that require the urgent attention of the government is given a cosmetic treatment and ‘playing politics’ takes precedence over everything else. The verbal duels between RAGA and NAMO that at times scales impossible pitch may sound amusing, but does that in any way help alleviate the hardships of the aam aadmi!

The country will not stand to benefit from such showy face-offs. The Opposition should have been adamant on its refusal to be meek spectators to the empty rhetoric being played out, instead insisting that the ruling front concentrate on fulfilling its promises of ushering in the achche din.

But the political gimmickry that goes on in the name of disagreement fails to inspire the populace to the seriousness of the Opposition depriving itself of a chance to bid for a comeback in the coming elections.

It is in the absence of a strong opposition that the ruling front is able to indulge in furthering its own agendas without any check whatsoever. Moreover, it will be the common man who will feel the brunt of the idiotic indulgences that characterize the tussle between of the ruling and the Opposition in the present political scenario.

The electorate could well be wooed by a slew of measures that spell reforms and development without concentrating on upsetting the communal harmony that exists in various regions across the country to win votes. The divide-and-rule policy was envisaged by the British to establish their colonial might over the country. Public sentiments and emotions are being trampled upon. As a throwback to the colonial era, it could well be claimed that the nation’s political vision is on a reverse gear!

(Published on 09th July 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 28)