Advantage : BJP

The measured and strategic positions that the BJP has taken on various issues lately and for some time on some issues have now come full circle and as recent developments have shown, the BJP is looking more and more like the party you can trust to govern at the centre.

Three developments in quick succession over the past few months and weeks have had a marked effect on the political mood in the country and it is perhaps for the first time since the Kargil intrusion by Pakistan in 1999 that a whiff of the consonance of public opinion can be sensed in the air. The denouement, so to say, which began with the historic judgment on Ayodhya and which routed itself through the gritty fight for a JPC has rounded off, for the while, with the Godhra verdict. Importantly, in all the three matters under review here, the BJP’s line has held sway.

The larger import of these developments has to do not only with the moral aspects of governance under the UPA and its political miscalculations, but also with the state of the nation, the psychological imprint of these developments on the mind of the populace and our view of ourselves as a people, for at no time in recent memory have we seen such emaciation of the national spirit as we have encountered over the last few months. But lest we look at these issues myopically and without a thread of continuity, it may be pertinent to point out that the unraveling of the present government began really and truly almost towards the end of its last term which only got worse as the Congress slipped into a self induced stupor of invincibility after the 2009 election win.

In the Ayodhya matter, we rose mature as a people to the occasion even as the BJP and right-aligned parties maintained their composure and exhorted everybody to not view the judgment as any referendum on polarities, rather as a logical outcome. The RSS stood out for its sagacious position on the issue, appealing to the Hindus to not see the verdict as a win and to the Muslims to see it as a solution. Subsequent attempts by a section of the Congress and the SP to rake up the issue became effectively null and void in the similarly sane response from the Muslim community which saw the judgment as fair even as another section was inspired to brand it fait accompli. The appeals by the BJP and other right-wing groups to try and avoid another legal confrontation at the Supreme Court since no new evidence is expected to be presented has once again rung true with the rational among the Muslim community who don’t want to be seen as spoiling for a fight with no weapons except bluster and egotistic communalism. In this episode too, the public at large has lauded the manner in which the BJP has handled this contentious issue raising its profile as a responsible party in which more people are expressing confidence each passing day.

In the demand for a JPC on the telecom imbroglio, the party remained steadfast from the initial stages even while other opposition parties jockeyed before settling into their final position on the issue. It was not lost on anyone that the media-inspired castigation of the BJP for the loss of an entire session of parliament which was being thrust at their door all through the run up to the budget session, was turned on its head with the churlish capitulation of the Congress. Now they are asking the PM, if your government was going to agree to the JPC, why did you waste the entire winter session? The PM’s weak and injured explanation is not only uncharitable, it is specious too. The real reason for his agreeing to the JPC is not just the opposition’s force of integrity, but his exasperation with his own situation within the government and the internecine relationships that emanate out of the special conditions of prime ministership that he accepted on his anointment as a proxy for the Gandhis.

On Godhra, an entire episode in the chapter of Gujarat found perspective. The edifice of untruth, half truths and stilted commissions crumbled, which had been put together by the UPA in a negotiated agreement within detractors of the Gujarat government and the BJP, to remix the episode to obfuscate and divert attention form the original sin. Nobody defends what followed, as nobody can, but there is always the historical starting point for everything that must eventually end and without which all we have is lingering doubts and continuing pain. The BJP’s stated position that the Gujarat riots had a clear and definable starting point and which stood up to the machinations of the centre all through this time, today stands vindicated. The closure that this judgment brings to the kin of those who died innocently in that horrific night of burning alive, heals many hearts even as it may not change much about their lives – and which goes for both sides of the divide.

The key to the unraveling of the Congress’ fortunes as far as public opinion and discourse goes has its roots deeper than the Raja-Radia episode would have us believe. The progressive hardening of the Congress’ organizational arteries goes to the heart of the problem, for it has exposed the thin crust pizza base that the party was building itself on. Not for nothing has it been said that fiscal consolidation in Congress parlance has a different set of meanings and has mostly to do with private accumulation of wealth at the cost of the treasury. This is no empty charge. More Congressmen have been indicted on corruption charges that any other party in the history of the country. You could put that on the numbers of years they have been in power but that wouldn’t change the character of the charge, or the culture that has allowed this to prosper. 

The turn of events of the past few months, the general dereliction of governance, the decidedly pusillanimous leadership, the ungraceful aplomb in defending of the indefensible has cost the country its self confidence and self esteem. That it has also been at the cost of historical highs in prices of essential commodities and every day use of the common man, falling industrial production and serious shortcomings on the development index have exposed the brittleness of the UPA command structure and laid bare the deficits that are now dimensionally visible to all sections of the public, the nation and the world.

Having achieved the nadir of public faith in the institution of government, what we now need as a nation is a realignment of our self image with the tenets of high idealism, because it remains an unalterable fact of history, as of life, that truth needs a throne of ethics to preside. It must now fall upon the leading opposition to show the way, as it has recently on a series of issues that have ranged from Ayodhya and Godhra to inflation and corruption to telecom and Telangana.

The people of India are witnessing the outlines of a new dispensation that waits in the wings with the right alchemy of maturity, integrity, vision, strategic insight and self less leadership. Aberrations aside, the BJP is poised appropriately to take centre stage on all counts, as the past few months seem to have shown – and this is said with all humility, suppressing the urge to gloat, and say, we told you so.

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This post has also appeared in The Pioneer of Saturday, 26th February, 2011 under a different headline.

Picture credit: http://blogs.reuters.com/

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