No More About Surnames

The Bhartiya Janata Party has registered an emphatic and resounding victory in the recently concluded elections to the Indian Parliament. Having won 284 seats on their own and 339 seats as NDA, they have decimated the Congress party which is the oldest political party in India. The magnitude of defeat is so huge that Congress, being the second largest party in terms of number of seats won cannot choose a leader of opposition in Lok Sabha since they haven’t got 10% of the total seats. In a few States like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan, Congress party didn’t even open its account. In the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, BJP made a clean sweep and in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK won 37 of the 39 seats. In Uttar Pradesh, BJP won 71 of the 80 seats, with the Samajwadi Party, getting a mere five seats. Mayawati’s BSP didn’t even get one seat.

This result has been monumental not only in the sense that it gave the BJP an unprecedented 284 seats, the first time since 1984 that a single political party in India has got a majority on its own, but it has perhaps transformed the political topography of India. Even the exit polls, which were predicting a BJP win and a Congress defeat hadn’t predicted such a massive victory for BJP and a complete drubbing for Congress.

Many regional parties like DMK, BSP, National Party and Samajwadi Party have seen their worst performance in these elections. Infact DMK, National Conference and BSP failed to win even one seat. But some other regional parties like TM, AIADMK and BJD have registered their best ever election performance in these elections. The drubbing that especially Congress, DMK and National Conference faced has another message in it that your family name is no longer a guarantee for electoral success. Far from it. Infact this time family run and dynastic political parties like Congress, DMK and NC have been meted out special punishment. The voting public has shown their displeasure with politics of entitlement. It is no secret that such political parties encourage a culture of sycophancy and inefficiency. Such coterie system leads to a culture of non accountability.

Congress party should have understood the public mood long back. In the lat few years Congress party has been handed out serious electoral defeats in politically most important states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and even Delhi. Every time, Congress faced a rout in the assembly elections in these states, the coterie surrounding Rahul and Sonia Gandhi gave certificates of exoneration to the Gandhi family and shielded them from criticism. In the age of 24 TV news and social media, people watched this drama unfold time and again, and finally punished Congress at the hustings. A neutral observer would have seen a Congress defeat coming long before it came, but the coterie around the Gandhi family never really wanted to democratize Congress party, since it would be detrimental to their own benefit and entitlement.

Now that Congress and other dynastic parties have been routed in the elections, one would like to see some democratic norms being displayed in the running of these parties. But knowing the culture of these parties, especially Congress, one needs to be extremely optimistic about such radical changes in the party. It is fine to have a stable Govt at the centre, but equally important is a credible and strong opposition. Congress party owes it to the Indian public to take some radical decisions to and come back as a strong and credible political party.

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