Strange things keep happening in Indian politics, but this time a novel, extraordinary scene is being witnessed. Two big parties with claimants to the post of Prime Minister are fighting the Lok Sabha elections without any issues. By issues I mean without any specially identified programmes. When they talk of issues, the Bharatiya Janata Party talks of the five T’s ( talent, tradition, toursim, trade, technology); Rahul Gandhi talks of giving the youth a standing. But nobody explains specifically what this means. They do not tell that if they come to power, what are the various things they will do in the first one year.
The meaning of issues is not the couplet from Tulsidas’s Ram Charit Manas, Hari Anant Hari Katha Ananta (Lord Rama (Hari) is infinite (Ananta), and so are the stories (Katha) about his glory). Problems are infinite, when we will come to power, we will solve them. But first, send us to power. What should be is that ‘what is your programme to bring inflation under control? What is your programme to control corruption? What is your programme to control unemployment? The infrastructure of education and health in the country which has been shattered within sixty years, what is your programme for re-building it? Can any time frame be given — one year, two years, three years, five years or ten years – when these issues will get attention from Governments?’ Both parties are silent over these questions.
Another novel and extraordinary thing that has come before one is that from the Bharatiya Janata Party side, only Narendra Modi is touring the country and giving policy related statements. From the side of the Congress, only Rahul Gandhi is touring
the country and giving policy related statements. There is no meaning in either of them giving policy statements. Together, both of them are enmeshing the people of the country in a street magician’s show.
Elections are a medium for sending to power parties which can solve the problems in the country. But all the parties want to come to power, but give no guarantee of solving the problems. The Bharatiya Janata Party, in the style of a narrator or story teller, is holding meeting after meeting, and its chief story teller is telling people through his party that this is their philosophy of change. On the other side the Congress Party is dependent only on their star campaigner Rahul Gandhi and he has made his image that of an angry young man.
Both are passing sarcastic remarks on each others language. It is obvious that the way we turn to means of entertainment to forget our pains and sorrows, in the same way in these elections we are beginning to relish and enjoy such language and such expressions which have nothing to do with our lives. Elections are a medium for sending to power parties which can solve the problems in the country. But all the parties want to come to power, but give no guarantee of solving the problems. The Bharatiya Janata Party, in the style of a narrator or story teller, is holding meeting after meeting, and its chief story teller is telling people through his party that this is their philosophy of change. On the other side the Congress Party is dependent only on their star campaigner Rahul Gandhi and he has made his image that of an angry young man. Everywhere, he shouts and presents to the people a garland of words that do not connect with each other. In any case Rahul Gandhi started his campaign very late, but even now he is not campaigning. He is still holding only some meetings.
Rahul Gandhi’s first big-publicity interview was seen on the TV channel Times Now. Arnab Goswami asked Rahul Gandhi questions which were largely generalised questions. He did not ask about his views about the country, the prevailing contradictions in the country, questions related to development and the roots of corruption. But even in those easy questions that he was asked, Rahul Gandhi got so tangled that people in the country felt that he did not have it in him to hold any viewpoint on problems. Narendra Modi is smart in this matter. He does not face journalists. He ignores the questions of journalists by just glaring at them and tries at any cost not to open his mouth about questions related to the country and the problems that are likely to appear before it, and in doing this he has been successful so far.
Apart from these two large parties even the small parties are not keeping before the people even a ‘half-plan’ related to the country’s problems. The Marxist party is still talking about the
programme it talked about years ago, is still going by it. A new Front is in the process of being formed, with the chief architects being Sitaram Yechury and Nitish Kumar. In the Communist Party of India (Marxists), Sitaram Yechury has emerged as the cleverest leader and for his party, he has tried to make place in the two States where he could find place. Till today nobody had thought this way. Jayalalitha has made an announcement of leaving seats for the CPI(M) and she has also sent a Marxist party leader to the Rajya Sabha with her support. In Odisha too Sitaram Yechury has persuaded Naveen Patnaik to be with him. In West Bengal, there is uncertainty about how many seats the CPI(M) will get, it
is doubtful whether it will even cross the figure of ten seats, because even with the lapse of time the anger which had erupted against the Communist Party rule of 35 years does not seem to have abated.
On 30 January, 2014, Mamata Banerjee’s rally was held at the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata and that rally was such which had never before been seen in the political history of India. There were about 20 lakh people within the Parade Ground, 5 lakh people were near and around the Parade Ground, and crowds of around 5 lakh people were on the roads, heading towards the Parade Ground, but milling around because they couldn’t find a way to move ahead. People had come from every corner of West Bengal, from village to village. Mamata Banerjee does not have any cadres, whereas the Leftist parties, who ruled for 20-30 years, are cadre based parties. People came on their own to her rally. Peacefully, in a disciplined manner, they participated in the rally and then returned to their homes. After the Panchayat elections, this is the second indicator that West Bengal is still standing by Mamata Banerjee like a rock.
Now, when the CPI(M) is not getting seats in West Bengal, the other place from where it can get seats is from Kerala. This means all the Leftist Parties together appear to be limited to twenty to twenty two seats. If in the entire country the Communist parties are likely to get twenty to twenty two seats, how both the Chief Ministers in Tamil Nadu and Odisha have allied with them is a mystery. It is also a mystery because the formula to bring together Jayalalitha and the CPI (M) cannot be seen even in the far
distance, not even in a blurred fashion. But without any formula or thread to join them, an agreement came into existence and
precisely the same thing happened in the case of Naveen Patnaik as well.
An alliance of fourteen parties has been formed, in which no one will be able to help anyone anywhere. Nobody will be able to get another even one vote in any State. Nitish Kumar, H. D. Deve Gowda, Naveen Patnaik, Jayalalitha, Sitaram Yechury and Babulal Marandi, these are the prominent names from their respective areas. But if they have to win the elections, they will have to win on their own. Yes, they will be leaders in their own areas, but neither do they have any common joint Declaration nor do they have a joint programme. Similarly, Sharad Pawar is also included in this alliance, but what is the formula linking Sharad Pawar’s party and the Communist Party, that too cannot be understood. Actually, this is also an attempt to create a farce similar to the farcical show the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress are placing
in the form of an entertainment
programme before the people of this country.
One more force is preparing itself for the seat of power in Delhi. Mamata Banerjee is the first such leader who is from the very first day keeping an economic programme before the people. And she has not only accepted the programme of the person with the greatest moral standing in the country, Anna Hazare, but has also sent an acceptance letter to Anna Hazare. A seventeen point programme has been prepared by Anna Hazare against the current economic policies. Apart from Mamata Banerjee, all the political parties I have mentioned are fostering the present economic system and they are interested in running just one economy, that is, a market based economy.
All these political parties want to implement an economic programme which has increased prices, corruption and unemployment in this country, which has compelled farmers to commit suicide, which has broken the backbone of our economy and which has closed the path of possibilities. And they are telling the people of the country that if any of them comes to power in the country, neither will inflation end, nor will corruption be eliminated, and nor will unemployment end. Villages will continue to be looted in the same way. In this situation, by accepting Anna Hazare’s programme Mamata Banerjee has at least indicated that she will remove the market based economy and will implement a village based economy.
She will use technology for development, not for exploitation. In this programme where there are farmers, youths, small industries, village-based industries, the possibility of a new economy; alongside, in towns and cities things like water and electricity will be given top priority. In Mamata Banerjee’s economic programme a promise has been made to provide electricity to every village, in every village building a power plant has been promised. In the last days of his rule Manmohan Singh made hectic agreements with America related to gas. In fact, how all the resources of our country can be of use of America and how we can support the American economy, a plan for this has not only been made by the present Government, and is also being fostered by the Congress Party, but even Narendra Modi is saying that the plan is not being made correctly. We should make in a much better manner a plan to nurture the American economy. And the people with whom the responsibility lay to fight this, like Jayalalitha, Nitish Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Navin Patnaik and the Leftist parties, those people are tangled in an unholy alliance or an alliance of convenience on questions such as forming a political alliance.
There is a challenge before the country and the people are standing in front of Mamata Banerjee with one voice, because they feel that after all, why is Mamata Banerjee alone talking of fighting the elections based on issues? She too should be keeping those questions before one which the others are keeping before the country in the form of farcical entertainment. Therefore, apart from
Mamata Banerjee, the coming Lok Sabha elections are an opportunity for all parties to put up a farcical show. Mamata Banerjee has given a glimpse, shown a slight possibility that by keeping issues before the people of the country she is trying to clear the picture. Now the responsibility is also that of the people whether they can understand this or whether they will allow the ‘tamasha’, the farcical show which has been running for the last sixty years to continue.