Since that historic speech in 1947 on the 15th of August India has come a long way. Right from the honeymoon period of 1950’s, to the turbulent 1960’s, to the angry 1970’s, to the tumultuous 80’s leading in to the aspirational 90’s and early 2000’s, India has been through a series of highs and lows. More than 80% of the 66 years since independence, India has been ruled by one party, the Indian National Congress.
The Congress has had an interesting history. Established in 1893- it has seen the independence struggle, development of infrastructure and numerous wars. After the extended run at the center, some of its lows came in the 1970’s when it was split by one leader in the 70’s who imposed the emergency after which it went to a one family dynastic rule till the early 90’s. After Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi took over whose reign saw the highs of technological development but saw extreme lows of accusations of being part in Sikh genocide in 1984 as well as the Bofors scam. Riding the wave of unpopularity in the late 80’s it saw the emergence of the first Indian prime minister from the South of Vindhyas, P V Narsmiha Rao. But in the late 90’s it went back being to in a single family rule led by the controversial leader, Sonia Gandhi.
Meanwhile another party, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) was rising as an alternative to the Congress nationally. After being through two third front governments in 1996 and 1997, the BJP won the elections in 1998 and 1999 and ran what was a pretty successful government in the center. In 2004 however, the unexpected happened. The BJP which was widely expected to sweep the elections was ousted in a surprise election victory by the Congress. The Congress came back in power after 8 years to form a large alliance called the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and had the mandate till 2009. In spite of taking some controversial decisions in 2008 it came back in 2009 with 206 seats and a huge mandate owing to spike in the popularity after the prime minister’s stance on the nuclear deal and some smart electoral strategy in the key swing states. It was expected that the Congress had cemented its place at the center and only a huge mistake could have dislodged it from there, since for the first time in the last 20 years the middle class had come back to the Congress. Many in the party had already started dreaming about 2014 and Rahul Gandhi as their Prime minister, hereby appropriating the dynastic succession and had planned their future accordingly. Just as they were smarting on the electoral victory, the House of Cards that had so carefully been built came crumbling down. First it was only a tremor but then a political earthquake shook the nation.
Ever since the 2G auctions took place in 2008-09 there were always doubts raised by concerned citizens on the way the 2G spectrums were being auctioned off and the murky last minute dealings where the dates had been advanced and mysteriously only certain industrial groups were favored. Initial investigations by journalist J Gopikrishnan found some serious irregularities which were further exposed in the PIL filed in the Supreme Court by Dr. Subramanian Swamy. This led to the arrest of the then minister A Raja and the family members of the DMK which was in alliance with the Congress. In spite of there being sufficient evidence the government stood by the ally and the Prime minister chose to disregard the findings of the Supreme Court. After this a series of scams were came out to the fore which included the Augusta Westland scam, Coal Gate (which happened under the P.m.’s watch as the Coal minister), Commonwealth Games scam and many more. It was widely perceived that this government was the most government in the history of country. But the disenchantment doesn’t end here. From the misgovernance as far as food prices were concerned to mismanagement in defense equipment and various fields the government has scored a blank. The arrogance at responding to these allegations as well as the incompetence in dealings with issues that affect the nation has cost India badly. The reluctance of the Prime minister, the nonchalance of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and the cluelessness of Rahul Gandhi has put India in a state of despair. From being the toast of the world in 2008, it stands now with a fledgling economy, deplorable defense, corrupt ministry and an establishment that doesn’t give a damn about the situation.
India is standing at a dangerous precipice today. Its oldest party stands distraught unwilling to change with the times and still sticking to the old world order. The political class stands disengaged as ever and is threatened to be usurped by anarchists having no clue of governance and just banking on one agenda. The deepening divide created by the Congress party based on religion, language and class is coming back to haunt India. An issue such as a creation of a new state was handled so badly by the Congress that they had to black out the proceedings. An issue that had been promised 10 years ago was prolonged keeping everyone on the tenterhooks and exploited in the last leg of the government for cynical political gains. The deterioration of Indian political ethos was complete after the drama in the Lok Sabha of the pepper spray which culminated in the bill being forcefully passed in both the houses. The conduct of the government in various issues ranging from civic, national security, social and developmental issues has been appalling. Stalling industrial projects because of the whims of the leader and pushing legislations which burden the economy further shows that the calculations of the Congress party begin and end with the elections.
What led to the edifice crumbling so fast? Is it the attitude, the actions (inaction in most cases) or a strong opposition? A mixture of all the three was true till the early part of 2013. Now that the opposition has a strong face the disheveling of the congress has been hastened. The nightmare that started with the 2G scam is finally ending for India. For the first time in Indian history do Indian voters have a chance to completely shut out the party that has cynically exploited the poverty, lack of education and the media discourse that has tilted one way since the independence. The Indian voter has a chance to change his own destiny and make sure that he leaves the country in the right hands. All sorts of games will be played before May 2014 including using government institutions to target certain people, using motivated outlets to rake up issues and also raising the favorite Congress bogey of secularism. The Indian voter can change it all for the good and ensure a better political discourse for the country. The elections have been announced and the campaigning has begun. Will the people approaching the EVM in April/May put in the last nail in the coffin of the Congress remains to be seen? An interesting battle is on the cards about who and what ideology gets to shape the future of India. Will be the old school socialist ideology of the 60’s and a party based on a single family dynastic rule or an ideology that is based on aspiration, performance and delivery. We shall find out soon, the die has been cast!
(Profile of the author: Political aficionado, news junkie, Writer. Twitter id : @ask0704)