The allegation of BJP’s “horse-trading” by the chorus of Rahul Gandhi, Siddaramaiah, HD Kumaraswamy and other opposition leaders and ruling party president Amit Shah’s equally trenchant attack on the opposition led by the INC have nothing in store for the people. Rather than crying over the spilt milk of invitation from the governor, the INC and JD(S) should worry about something fundamental: What does it offer to the people, which the competition does not offer? With both secularism and socialism turning ideologies that fail to distinguish between one party and another — thanks to Narendra Modi’s ‘course correction’ after the loss of Bihar — the thinking heads of the oldest party must draw down a strategy that would reverse the exodus of voters from its camp. Lifting almost the entire Nehru-Indira ideology, the AAP had wiped it out from the face of Delhi three years ago. If freeloading is what the majority of electorates want, the Congress must thank Modi that he is not emulating Kejriwal wholly; or else, the fate of the socialist, populist, communal opposition would have been worse. More importantly, the ruling party must mull over the question as to whether the desire of the poor is really beneficial to the poor. If subsidy raj could extricate people from poverty, it would have in the last 70 years of near-uninterrupted socialist rule. But given that the proletariat lacks the basic understanding that the amount offered for subsistence on getting exhausted leaves a temporarily better off individual poor again, this economics must be drilled into their minds. This is why neither the minimum support price nor loan waivers could uplift a majority of farmers of the country.
Assuming that the politician couldn’t care for the country less and that electoral gains are his sole concern, the absence of differences in ideologies of parties is poor vote-banking, too. For, an election is a kind of a market where the voters are buyers and the parties sellers. Without a unique selling proposition, a product would sell at best by chance. By claiming that, while the product with every vendor is the same, one offers a better after-sales service than another, one at best gets a cyclical change in the buyer preference, as witnessed in several States of the country where governments change every five years. Soon, it will be the BJP’s turn to realise the folly of being a me-too product when the people of different States have experienced its governments long enough. Modi stands in better stead for the unique package he is: he is ‘secular’ without the plank of secularism; he is a socialist who had pushed projects like Make in India hard but failed, and he is the only charmer who can attract fence-sitters as well as members of the rival camp. That is the sales pitch. Given that no desperate allegation of corruption against the current Union government has impressed the people, Modi will play a longer inning. That is after-sales service, which enhances the sales figure when new stocks arrive. The lacuna in this marketing model is that it has no frills and, worse, the product sold is sterile — unable to yield by-products. “No frills” implies that few citizens realise their lives have changed. “No by-product” refers to the jobless GDP growth.
Of course, if the Rahul camp could not come up with a new ideology, it does not mean it had no new ploy. But that ploy of division did not benefit the INC in elections; it just created more bad blood in society. Gujaratis were, for the first time, told they were Patidars, Dalits and OBCs. In Karnataka, the Lingayats were told they were no longer Hindus. And in between the 2014 general election and Karnataka Assembly poll, the leaders of the opposition lost no opportunity to choreograph or support every disruptive activity from standing alongside seditious communist students to demeaning the judiciary to encouraging vandalism during a Bharat Bandh. If the oldest party believes that is not the public perception about it, there is nothing spectacular that the current government has done that is making an opposition comeback a Herculean task. With such a lacklustre opposition, the only enemy of the BJP would be voter fatigue in the foreseeable future — of the kind the CPM-led Left Front had witnessed in West Bengal in 2011. If that makes Modi wary, the first thing he must do if he gets re-elected in 2019 is approaching the Election Commission as well as the Supreme Court to challenge the party registration guidelines that make it compulsory for all political parties in the country registered with the EC to be secular and socialist. It will perhaps be too much to expect from the prime minister that he would dare to expunge the words surreptitiously inserted by the Indira Gandhi regime in the Preamble of the Constitution.