Amnesia and ambition have a strange love-hate relationship. When loyalty to the boss is the only yardstick for success, facts can wait. M.J. Akbar’s piece in The Indian Express (May 21) reflects the helplessness of a long wait.
In a selective analysis of the recent assembly elections, Akbar attacks the Congress-Left alliance and the debilitating impact such an alliance has on those allying with the Congress. He forgets the impact the Mahagathbandhan made on Modi and his mirror and alter ego, Amit Shah. It will take 10 victories for the BJP to recover from the near-fatal blow it received in Bihar.
The BJP has been following a simple strategy. Polarise the voter, confuse the Muslim and consolidate Hindus. It is the same strategy that was in play in Maharashtra, Assam, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. Badruddin Ajmal in Assam, Asaduddin Owaisi in Maharashtra or the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh only helped the BJP to confuse the Muslim voter. The Congress-Left alliance came as a shock to this strategy. After the assembly results were announced, Shah himself conceded that the Congress-Left alliance hurt the BJP in West Bengal. The BJP tried to transfer its vote to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) as a last ditch effort to save face in the state. Incidentally, the increase in Mamta Banerjee’s vote share is directly proportional to the fall in BJP’s share. For a party that cries hoarse that it is a victim of political violence in Kerala (where of the 31 political murders in last five years, only nine were of BJP-RSS workers), its complete silence on the violence unleashed by the TMC is interesting. The defeat of the Congress-Left alliance is not a reversal. It is the coming together of non-cult forces that will eventually voice peoples’ aspirations.
I can understand Akbar’s nervousness. The Congress had always been the broadest possible people-centered movement that effectively represented every corner of India. Currently, the party is going through a rough electoral patch. In its worst times, the Congress has been alive to its historical responsibility of saving the country from charlatans with messianic overtones. The anti-RSS alliances of political and non-political forces are different from “make-me-PM-get-togethers” of disparate elements.
The CPM politburo can argue with the party’s Bengal unit, but the cadres on the ground, who according to Akbar rejected this “compromise”, were the ones who sought this alliance. Akbar must wait for the response from the West Bengal leaders to the CPM politburo’s criticism of the alliance. The Left, I must admit, is the only political formation in the country that truly follows internal democracy. Some research assistance must also be provided to help writers who are also busy pursuing their political ambitions. Manik Sarkar, according to Akbar, refused to campaign in West Bengal for this alliance. The truth is, Sarkar not only campaigned vigorously in several districts of West Bengal, every time he addressed rallies, he passionately defended the alliance.
Akbar, who is now a student of the Subramanian Swamy nursery of thought, continues to dream aloud about involvement of the Congress leadership in corruption. In some other pieces too, he has spoken about the word “fam” in the Agusta papers as referring to the Gandhi family. Even the blindest opponent of the Congress knows that the “fam” in those unsubstantiated papers stands for the Tyagi family. “Proven corruption has stained the reputation of its top leaders beyond recognition,” he says. Is there a single piece of evidence to prove the involvement of a single Congress leader? If Akbar had only gone through the newspaper articles he himself wrote a few years ago, there is more evidence linking the then Modi government in Ahmedabad to the Gujarat riots and several fake encounter killings. I am not even talking about the KG Basin scam here.
The BJP is worried and for valid reason. No amount of fanfare on the Raj path can hide the economic reality of the Jan path. Exports are down. So are imports. There are no jobs. The data regarding the registration of new companies in the last two years tells a story different from the six hours of self-congratulatory public event. Polarisation can only bring you this far. To cover the rest of the distance, you must deliver.