In an earlier Column one had reflected on the state of political vacuum in India where the ruling party, the Congress Party, in the absence of a strong Opposition Party, a demoralized BJP, was free to indulge in India’s unbridled governance without any political scrutiny or checks and balances. The serious implications of this political vacuum on India’s foreign policy, security postures and strategic readiness were highlighted. It now strikes one that India’s political landscape has changed in recent years even more wider in socio-political terms. What is now discernible is that even if a strong and effective political Opposition Party was existent it may not have been able to mobilize the masses politically to turn out on the streets in large numbers to agitate and put pressure on the ruling government on crucial issues like the wild spiraling in price rises of essential commodities. Political agitations except in a few parts of India are no longer visible. One could attribute this both to the ineffectiveness of India’s political opposition parties as a whole and also on the prevailing political mood of disenchantment of India’s common masses with India’s politicians. Politicians and the civil bureaucracy are generally held in contempt as they have failed to deliver.
India’s weak polity has resulted in India’s notoriously corrupt and lethargic civil bureaucracy to slide down even further into abysmal depths.
Undoubtedly, India’s opposition parties are in a mess. The principal opposition party, the BJP, despite a change of guard at the helm shows no promise of regaining its old hold over its natural constituency. There is a visible sulking at the highest levels of its leadership where the traditional fire-breathing and articulate BJP spokespersons like Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj are putting in mere proforma appearances without the earlier conviction which used to hold audiences spell-bound.
The Leftists Parties which had a strong hold and grip on the ruling Congress Party lost that hold after the last General Elections having won just about half the number of seats that they earlier had. In terms of agitational politics the Leftists used to be a force to reckon with for any government in power. In the changed political landscape in West Bengal, their main political base, the political wind is now blowing against them. The ruling Congress Party has tacitly supported the Trinamool Congress led by the fiery Mamta Bannerji to indulge in violent confrontations with the CPI(M) in their strongholds. In Kerala the other strong Leftists held state their internal strife is taking a political toll. Consequently the Leftists have lost their bite in terms of strong and widespread agitational politics to the comfort of the ruling party.
The rest of India’s political opposition parties are regional parties with neither an all-India image, political network nor political leaders with a national image. They have the clout to foment agitational politics but only at the State-level. Hence they are not a force to reckon with by the ruling party at the Center and come into play only for political horse-trading periodically.
With such a political disarray it is natural for the Indian elite to hold politicians in contempt and for the Indian masses to be totally disillusioned in the politicians of the day who despite many promises that they make are unable to transform India socio-economically. Leave aside this the politicians have not been able to keep price-rises in essential commodities in check, an area which vitally affects the daily lives of millions of common Indians.
India’s weak polity has resulted in India’s notoriously corrupt and lethargic civil bureaucracy to slide down even further into abysmal depths. They so thrive, secure in the belief that a weak polity is perforce dependant on them and lacks the political will to demand their accountability or discipline them.
However, India’s politicians and their accomplice civil bureaucracy fail to realize that if they persist in their present trends of functioning, then the day is not far off when the Indian public at large would render them ‘redundant’ to India’s larger scheme of things. The indicators are already there.