As the nation prepares to celebrate another Republic Day, it is time to undertake the usual ritual examination of the gains and losses in the past year. There is no doubt that India is undergoing a process of change, both, politically and economically. The existing political dispensation is so jaded that it burdens the entire nation with inertia and a sense of deep frustration. The economy is deeply mired in a quagmire of indecisiveness, which has also impacted on India’s strategic interests worldwide. The people can no longer abide this feeling of powerlessness and the Republic Day Parade, no matter how magnificent, will provide only a passing feeling of pride.
While there is anger, there is not hopelessness. The problems are known and solutions are available. The time to make the choice will soon be upon us. The choice is not between AAP and the BJP. AAP will only take up the space that the Congress occupied and could never be that of the BJP. The choice will have to be between the BJP and third parties in the Hindi heartland. In the meanwhile, any party in the other states that aligns with Modi before the elections could benefit in a big way.
Conditioned by the past and the seemingly insurmountable bastion of the caste and regional parties, analysts are loath to predict little more than 180 seats for a Modi led BJP. They clearly are overlooking what the AAP phenomenon represented – a willingness in the electorate to look beyond conventional solutions. There is no point in beating down AAP – it is the product of a growing civic consciousness that emerged so powerfully during the Lokpal and Nirbhaya upsurges.
Of course, those in power will collaborate to ensure the electorate remains divided along caste, community, regional and linguistic lines. Money, technology, muscle, influence, deception and dirty tricks will be used to try and draw a veil over this emerging consciousness. Indications of this can already be seen with propaganda being done about how only a particular elite is capable of governance, while those from among the ‘stinking’ masses only capable of messing it up.
If this Republic Day will be historic, it is the time when the Indian people will take another step forward in transforming the country. Indian democracy has been unique in many ways, but mostly because of the extraordinary political maturity of its people as compared to those in other parts of the world. Indian democracy has accelerated through a process that took other nations almost eight hundred to a thousand years. This journey has involved a lot of patchwork and makeshift arrangements. With greater economic and technological power in their hands, the people can now think in terms of more substantial arrangements and better governance. In fact, they now know that nobody can do it better than they themselves.
The big choices will emerge from the small ones. In the case of elections, these are simple. Irrespective of the party, vote for the best candidate! Before that, apply pressure on the parties to choose deserving and capable persons – those who match the changed political environment. It will be an excellent opportunity, once and for all, to show the politicians that there are no guarantees provided by caste, community, dynasty, etc. Only merit will count. The truth of this has already become evident. This Republic Day, think of the nation and drive the truth home.