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Rally at Ramlila Maidan reflects Opposition’s poverty of ideas

Rally at Ramlila Maidan reflects Opposition’s poverty of ideas

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(Guru Prakash)
More than a rally of the Opposition, Sunday’s meeting at the Ramlila ground reminded the people of India of a weekend lunch get-together of the sons and daughters of the political elite at the Delhi Gymkhana Club. There is a growing realisation of the widespread poverty of intelligence in the unstructured speeches and incoherent ideas of entitled leaders who treat the political office as their fiefdom.

Rahul Gandhi sharing the stage with Sunita Kejriwal betrays conventional political wisdom. The AAP and Congress will be at loggerheads in Punjab but will fight together in Delhi. The Communists will oppose the Congress party in Kerala but will display a symbolic unity on the national stage. The Congress is constantly being snubbed in Bihar by Lalu Prasad — there is an ongoing confrontation on seats such as Purnea. He did not even consult the Congress leadership at the Centre and state before declaring candidates for the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections. Stalwarts like the former governor Nikhil Kumar are not getting recognition in the Congress. Similarly, the feud between Akhilesh Yadav and the grand old party is an open secret.

The perversion of political vocabulary acquired a new dimension with the exchange of words between the Samajwadi Party and Congress. B R Ambedkar’s grandson, Prakash Ambedkar, recently went to town with his displeasure about the MVA in Maharashtra. Leaders with some level of grassroots support are deserting the Congress almost every day. Ravneet Singh Bittu, the sitting MP from Ludhiana in Punjab, has joined the bandwagon and more are likely to follow in his footsteps, considering the party’s state of affairs.

There is a genre of political commentary that harkens to an era when politics was conducted from elite addresses such as 10 Janpath. The country has moved on. With civilian honours like the Bharat Ratna and Padma Shree getting democratised, the Congress party is gradually realising the true potential of the idea of democracy. Recently, the nation witnessed the reception in which Bharat Ratna was finally given to the family members of Chaudhary Charan Singh and Karpoori Thakur. Ambedkar, for that matter, was acknowledged four decades after he died for the topmost civilian honour.

To expect the Congress to lead the Opposition camp is a bit rich. The eventual devolution of power to the masses has been realised by Nitish Kumar and Jayant Chaudhary, among others, who until recently were considered the pillars of opposition unity.

In her book How Prime Ministers Decide, senior journalist Neerja Chowdhury observed how former Haryana CM Bhajan Lal suggested discontinuing elections and making Indira Gandhi prime minister for life. Her grandson Rahul Gandhi is now on a mission to save democracy in the country. Can anything be more hypocritical?

Indian politics has long suffered from the cancers of dynastic rule and corruption. The people have decided to launch a surgical strike on these forces in 2024. Arvind Kejriwal has been the face of AAP since the party’s inception. The Ramlila Maidan rally was nothing more than a failed attempt to legitimise corruption. Kejriwal has never shied away from demonstrating his dictatorial tendencies. Today, he seems an amalgamation of Lalu Prasad and Mohammed Shahabuddin. Lalu passed the baton to Rabri Devi when he went to jail and Shahabuddin wanted to run Siwan from jail. Arvind Kejriwal represents what is rotten in Indian politics today. Leaders from the Opposition mobilising support in favour of a person in jail shows their lack of sense of purpose.

The Time magazine has called 2024 the year of elections. The opposition parties, instead of building a positive campaign, are busy diluting the essence of our democratic traditions. The public is cognisant of the differences between the ruling and opposition parties. PM Modi has a stellar report card of achievements from the last 10 years. He also has a forward-looking vision of Viksit Bharat for the next 25 years. The Opposition, instead of wasting energies legitimising dynasty and institutional corruption, would do well in offering an alternate vision of development if they have any. It is a big if.

The writer is assistant professor at Patna University and adviser to the Dalit Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry


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