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BW Businessworld

Reform Politics, Post-General Elections

If Modi wins a second term..., many of his followers say that he can once and for all refashion the BJP-RSS ties

Photo Credit : PTI


Results of the forthcoming general elections will have profound implications for India — the economy, the politics, and the society.

As our  cover story in the last issue showed, Corporate India feels that there’s not much to choose from the economic policies of the BJP-led alliance and the Congress-led Opposition. They are much the same. Statist, and at best cautious reformers.

As many corporate leaders said in their interactions with BW Businessworld, they do fear the social implications of, say, corruption or polarisation.

It’s therefore useful to evaluate how a BJP-led win or a Congress-led win will change India.
The biggest charge against the Congress is that it’s a dynasty-driven party. Nothing moves here without the approval of the family. As if the duo of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi was not enough, now we have the third member of the family, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in politics, and her stature in the coming days is only going to get bigger. We got a hint of what lies in future when Priyanka, her husband, and her two children were present in full force when Rahul filed his nomination papers from Amethi.

The charge against the BJP, especially by the liberal elites, has been that it’s an RSS-controlled entity. Its past has been replete with instances where the RSS foisted party presidents on the BJP, even though the former calls itself a nationalist cultural organisation. In the Modi era, however, there has been a delicate equilibrium in the BJP-RSS ties, primarily because of the larger-than-life stature of Modi, and the Sangh has not really been able to force its choices down the BJP throat.

What are the possibilities for the future?

Let’s take the Congress.

Do you remember the “democratisation project” that Rahul Gandhi initiated in the Indian Youth Congress and the NSUI? When Rahul started his career, he would often say that yes, he indeed owed his position to the family, and things should change. The “democratisation process” in the Congress’s frontal organisations was more like US primaries — where the party members would elect office bearers, presidents, and help decide who their public representative would be.

Many thought Rahul would have the foresight to take the democratisation process right to the top. For instance, why shouldn’t the top position in the Congress be open to a non-Nehru / non-Gandhi member?

True, there have been non-Gandhi members as Congress presidents but they have been stop-gap arrangements at best.

Why can’t a common Congress worker aspire to occupy the top post? Can the party ever make Amarinder Singh or Sachin Pilot (albeit a dynast) its party president?

The BJP’s story is a bit more complex.

If Modi wins a second term, and is as comfortable with the numbers that he is, many of his followers say that he can once and for all refashion the BJP-RSS ties. Even in his Gujarat days, he used to keep the local units of the RSS and the VHP at an arm’s length and the famed “Moditva” had come to replace “Hindutva”. Can he do it at the central level and make the BJP a modern right-wing party?

On the other hand, if the BJP doesn’t win a majority, then the RSS role in the party will only grow.

The BJP proudly claims that a booth party worker can rise to become the party president. Post-elections, it will be seen if it’s true.

This election calls for an occasion to reform politics — whether it’s the BJP or the Congress (not counting a number of regional parties, which are actually extensions of various dynasties).

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