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Understanding Change

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The BJP managed on Tuesday to overcome the Congress in Himachal Pradesh and the SP in UP by getting ‘rebel’ MLAs to vote for its Rajya Sabha candidates. The immediate allegation has been that of the BJP bribing or intimidating these MLAs. This is a simplistic response as the facts on the ground are different. It must be recalled that Chanakya had identified ‘saam, daam, dand, bhed’ as the means to counter political rivals. The opposition parties must understand that they have not been victims of ‘daam’ or ‘dand’, but rather ‘saam’ and ‘bhed’. The BJP has exploited their inner weaknesses, be it the sense of neglect being felt by Congress MLAs in Himachal, or the long simmering differences among SP’s legislators.

This is politics and it is not just about winning elections. It also has to do with the judicious use of power. Party leaders must never forget that, even if they have inherited power, it is the citizens’ vote that is ultimately required. In a democracy, power flows upwards and is not inherent in some dynastic structure. A more representative political organisation will ultimately prevail over those drawing power from a limited base like some family or caste.

Come the Lok Sabha elections, more such surprises and upsets are in the offing. The complacency of ‘politicians’ like Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi, based on the belief that the support of a category of voters is a certainty, very likely will lead them into further such traps. The first requirement is to get a grasp of the reality. They must ask if the issues they continue to raise in their political campaigns are really relevant to the people. Is India’s populace actually suffering the impact of ‘inflation’ and ‘unemployment’? Do they have an idea of the social transformation taking place in a rapidly changing India? Are all the surveys, reports and statistics being released by various (Indian) institutions fake? Is caste a determining factor in a rapidly urbanising society, or are new identities emerging that have greater relevance? Does make-believe trump the fundamental principles of economics? So much of the political jargon being used is completely outdated in the present context but there is little realisation of this. These warning signs need to be read in the proper context by the opposition, particularly in north India, if it wishes not to become extinct like the dinosaurs that failed to evolve.