The impact of Covid-19 on the lives of the people in all parts of India, including the economic and social spheres, has encouraged non-BJP parties to look more optimistically on their future. They believe that the ‘Hindu’ consolidation achieved under PM Modi is coming apart and look at the West Bengal election as an example. However, their optimism is constrained by two factors – first, some of the parties have governments in the states and face similar voter disillusionment and, second, they do not have a clearly articulated ideology at the national level. Hence, many continue to depend on the old regional, casteist, even communal alignments to attract votes.
In ideological terms, almost all the opposition parties except, to some extent, the communists, have little to show beyond the dynasties that control them. The dynasties are relevant, too, for as long as they represent certain vested interests. As seen in the case of the Congress, for instance, party workers look up to the Gandhis and expect them to act on the basis of an objective approach. In reality, they are captive to cliques and factions that influence decisions. So, while they may make a show of it, the Gandhis know it is only the old game they can play.
Akhilesh Yadav, another dynast who leads a coalition of caste and community, has suddenly awakened to the possibility that the Yogi Government is vulnerable in UP with elections less than a year away. Having asked zero questions as an MP in the Lok Sabha and attended little more than a third of its sittings, he is targeting the UP CM’s performance. So confident is he of the caste and minority support that he is refusing to ally with the BSP or Congress. He expects to be the biggest gainer in a fractured mandate, so will negotiate post the elections.
The YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh is suddenly witnessing a resurgent TDP. The Congress is hit by infighting in Punjab, thereby encouraging the Shiromani Akali Dal to join hands with the BSP for a larger social compact. AAP’s political interventions in other states are somewhat dampened by its failures in Delhi that even an aggressive advertisement blitz has not been able to cover up. The only certainty is that none of the small players is on stable enough ground to go beyond traditional boundaries. Chirag Paswan would vouch for that.