Whatever be India’s political fate in 2019, one is compelled to deliberate on claims being made till 2069.
Legally, socially and politically, each individual has the right to dream about living for as long as s/he desires to. After all, the traditional blessings bestowed by elder ones on younger ones lay stress on the latter being blessed with a long, happy and healthy life. Even Indian filmy birthday songs focus on the birthday girl/boy’s life being of more than thousand years. But such dreams’ relevance is known to be limited only to the dreamland. At least, in the present period. Who knows, the future may witness discovery/invention of some miraculous medicine, exercise and/or some other means by which death may be avoided. Or one may choose to live a healthy life for as long as one desires to.
Ah, imagine, having the secret to a long and healthy life in one’s own hand. At present, the contrary is true. Yes, this refers to ailing, almost dead persons being put on ventilators to be made to live for as long as possible. Of course, this isn’t living life. And decision of allowing ailing ones to be put on ventilators rests on their immediate relatives with the hope that they may regain normal health sooner or later. The ailing ones seem to remain oblivious of medical activities that their bodies are subject to. Well, in present circumstances, an extremely long life, that too on ventilators is not every person’s desire, choice or dream.
So, when one hears of 50+ gentlemen spelling out loudly their aim to remain in power for the next 50 years, one is naturally taken by a surprise. Of course, one wishes all a very long and healthy life. But in the present circumstances, living beyond 100 or even 90 does not seem possible. Also, even if some do, prospects of their remaining healthy and active enough — as they are now — 50 years from now seems a little too unrealistic to be really acceptable. Death of a few senior politicians in the recent past is just a minor indicator of this reality. These include former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Tamil leader M. Karunanidhi. They passed away before they touched 100 and after being ill for quite some time.
Maybe, BJP leader Amit Shah’s actual intention is to express that his party is strong enough to remain in power for at least half a century. The timing of this statement clearly suggests that it is a part of his electoral campaign for coming parliamentary elections. Yet, it is difficult to fully comprehend this gentleman’s political message. Of course, various interpretations can be drawn from this. Of these, the most obvious is the apparent meaning that the BJP will win not just coming parliamentary elections, but each one till 2069. The deeper interpretation suggests that the BJP will repeat history and remain in power for as long time as was the Congress after India gained Independence in 1947.
It is difficult to imagine repetition of this historical phase again. True, the Congress remained in power as a single largest party for a considerable stretch of time. But that was a different era. It was possible for the Congress as that phase was not a witness to existence as many regional parties and leaders as the present phase is. Also, the Congress was headed by fairly strong leaders. What was perhaps more important was that phase was not witness to as many communication devices as the present one is. Even television services were not initially available. This only implies that the voters were then easily convinced by what was spelled out to them by the then Congress leaders. Rival leaders were hardly visible to counter them. Nor were television services, Internet and mobile phones to spread messages against what the Congress leaders said.
This only suggests that maybe the BJP leader is extremely confident of a few facts. Or even if he isn’t, his intention is to make voters think along those lines. One is nature of BJP’s parliamentary victory. His agenda is not simply ensuring BJP’s victory but also elimination of presence of rival parties, particularly regional, in Parliament. Is this possible? Well, if for a second one assumes that division in anti-BJP votes spells BJP’s return to power with a thumping majority in 2019, this certainly does not spell repeated success for it in successive parliamentary polls.
In fact, considering economic grievances being on rise for common people, the decline in what was once projected as Modi hype, increase in awareness about the BJP, its leaders and its agenda; prospects of voters being swept by its claims hardly prevail now. True, in 2014 the people chose to give the BJP and Narendra Modi a chance. In 2019, however, BJP’s victory is likely to be decided by politically, strategic miscalculations of its rival parties.
Whatever be India’s political fate in 2019, one is compelled to deliberate on claims being made till 2069. Even if senior BJP leaders remain politically active, a considerable number of voters are least likely to remain around for next 50 years. Also, a significant number have either not been born yet and/or are still not eligible to cast votes. So, which direction is Mr Shah’s “50-year” electoral bid directed at? A political dreamland?
The writer is a senior journalist. She has come out with two books Ayodhya Without the Communal Stamp and Image and Substance: Modi’s First Year in Office