Is it the Modi wave or the Opposition weakness ..?
Congress lacks cadre, status of regional parties is akin to private limited company!
There is no hesitation in saying that Narendra Modi is the most powerful Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Both at national and international levels. But there is a big difference too. At the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Congress had dominated the whole country and the Opposition was not strong but many leaders of the party and the Opposition were strong enough to shake the government in Parliament. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was not the only great resistance to Nehru but the stature of his opponents, right from Shyamaprasad Mukherjee to Hiren Mukherjee, AK Gopalan, JB Kripalani, Ram Manohar Lohia, C. Rajagopalachari, Gopinath Bardolai to Firoz Gandhi were so great that Nehru took them seriously. The absence of Opposition was never felt. At the time of Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee of Jan Sangh and P. Ramamurthy and Jyotirmoy Basu of CPI (M) were very influential in Parliament. There was a group of stalwarts like Morarji Desai, Madhu Limaye, George Fernandes, Jaiprakash Narayan, Madhu Dandavate, Mohan Dhariya, Krishnakant, Sharad Yadav. It can be said that though numerically the Opposition was not superior, however, in terms of moral strength the Opposition was very strong.
The circumstances around the third strongest Prime Minister Narendra Modi are quite the opposite. The Opposition may have big guns to boast, but the reality is that in today's situation, none of them is able to challenge Narendra Modi at any level. If any party can challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi, then it is Congress. The Congress is a secular party. It is the party that has the interests of the poor, farmers, labourers, tribals at heart. It has got deep understanding of this country. It has the widespread experience of power management, but unfortunately Congress has become a party where there are plenty of leaders, but has an abysmal shortage of workers! Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should think over what the umpteen leaders, the party are doing? What is their usefulness? The entire Congress party has become the victim of five star culture. Lakhs of people used to throng the public meetings of Nehruji and Indiraji, today crowds have to be brought in even for the big leaders. A contract is given for gathering the crowd. It should be a matter of serious concern for the Congress leadership that the party has come to such a sorry pass. I remember that earlier the Congress elections would be held in full faith. From the ward and the panchayat level to block, the district and then to the state level, the party activists were visibly active. The problem started after 1980 when the big leaders gradually turned the election into a form of appointments and factionalism started spreading in the party.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party has prepared its full base. A network of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which operated from behind the scenes, was already present and the BJP got the benefit. Earlier there used to be the ‘shakhas’ of Seva Dal which slowly ended. The Congress leaders did not understand that the people have fascination and love for Nehru-Gandhi family but what will remain when the workers leave the party? I am probably getting a bit outspoken but the reality is that the Congress has not been destroyed by someone else but the Congressmen themselves. When Indira Gandhi had lost the election in 1977, she had bounced back on the strength of her party workers and had come to power again. Today, Rahul Gandhi is working hard but how many leaders are there who are in the field? It is very easy to issue statements in newspapers and give bites to TV channels, but it is difficult to get into the field. Is the Congress leadership thinking about for how long it has not been in power in Bihar, UP, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Odisha? Congress had a strong presence in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh but lost it too. Only leaders are responsible for this because power was handed over in the hands of wrong people! One more thing is that when the party was in power in Delhi and Mumbai, none cared for loyal workers and competent leaders. Even today, the leaders are not easily available. One has to wait for months for appointments. This question always keeps popping in my mind why despite our leader Rahul Gandhi being the youngest leader, the youth of this country is with Modi? If the Modi wave is to be stalled, then the whole party should focus on this question.
None of the other parties has the power to stop the Modi wave. The condition of regional parties is akin to that of the private limited company. The parties run in the name of the families. There is no democratic structure there too. The interests of such parties are limited to their families and relatives. They have nothing to do with the state and the country. Communist Party, considered to be the benefactor of the poor, has survived somewhat in West Bengal and Kerala. Their existence from the rest of the states is almost gone.
All the world's political scientists have been saying that in a country where Opposition becomes weak, there is a big threat to democracy. So has this situation come about in India? At the moment, it will be premature to say so because our democracy is so strong that no wave can shake it! Yes, it is of course that if the Opposition remains weak for a long time then condition will definitely be weak. Cursing the Bharatiya Janata Party, Sangh or Modi and Shah will not fetch you any dividends. Nor will lifting finger on the functionality of EVM machine will do! The only need is that political parties should rise above their self-interest and join hands with one other, strengthen the Opposition. The Congress should play this role, but the question is unless the Congress itself becomes strong, who will come with it and how will the people trust? At present, there are more than 1700 registered political parties in the country but among them the status of the national party is only with the Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Indian Communist Party (Marxist), Indian Communist Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Nationalist Congress Party. Lalu, Nitish, Mulayam, Akhilesh, Mamta's parties are part of the state-level 49 parties. None of them can provide leadership.
So will the wave continue like this? It seems to me that the opposition of this country is subscribing to the theory of eminent sociologist Ashish Nandy, that it does not take more than one and a half years for the people to get disenchanted with government? But it seems that this theory is not working at the moment. Unless the opposition itself will be strong, the wave will continue!
Before I conclude
Demand for such devices has suddenly increased in Japan, which can save the man in the event of nuclear attack. One tool is the Atomic Shelter which can be hidden and the other is the air purifier which prevents radiation. Last year only 10 shelters were sold, while this year in April alone 8 shelters and over 50 air purifiers have been sold. Indeed, as the tension between North Korea and the US is heading towards the extreme, Japan is worried because it is the world's only nation which has suffered the dire consequences of the nuclear warhead.
We Worship Bapu but why Don’t We Follow his Path?
The date of April 16 is very significant in the history of India. On April 16, 1917, Mahatma Gandhi sowed the first seeds of satyagraha against the oppression of farmers in Champaran, Bihar. On that day, Bapu had left Motihari for Jaslalpatti village when the British District Magistrate of Champaran gave him the order to leave the district. The order said that Gandhi can create turmoil. Bapu refused to obey this order and he was arrested.
The next day in court, when the judge asked Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who is your lawyer, he said no one! His answer was: "I have sent a reply to the notice of the Collector!" When the judge said that the reply did not reach the court, Gandhiji took out a paper and started reading. Written therein was: "I will not accept any restrictions on the freedom to work or go anywhere in my country. Yes, I accept the crime of not accepting the order of the District Magistrate and also demand punishment for that." The judge wondered what it was! The judge asked Gandhiji to obtain bail. Gandhiji said, "I do not have the money to obtain bail!' The judge advised him to leave the district and promise not to come again. The case will be closed then, the judge said. Gandhiji said, "How can this happen! After you release me from jail, I will make my permanent house here in Champaran." In the meantime, the direction came from Delhi not to fight with this man.
Indeed, Gandhiji came to Champaran very thoughtfully. An anonymous farmer, Rajkumar Shukla had complained in 1916 during the Congress convention that the British were cultivating indigo. The British had made rules that farmers should cultivate indigo in some part of their farm land. At that time, synthetic indigo had not hit the market and the demand for indigo was very much there in Europe's markets. Farmers did not have any special benefit from this farming, but the British were definitely getting rich. Farmers' land was also becoming barren due to the cultivation of indigo. Apart from this, 46 types of taxes were being collected from farmers. Shukla had requested Gandhiji to lead the movement on this issue. Gandhiji first understood the problems of the indigo cultivators and felt that since this is a cash crop, the farmers will be ready to join him in satyagraha. His assessment was right.
On account of the legal acumen he displayed in the court, Gandhiji's fame spread throughout the area. The then deputy governor of Bihar Edward Gate called Gandhiji for a discussion and 'Champaran Agrarian Committee' was formed to solve the problems of the farmers. The government also made Gandhiji a member of this committee. Based on the recommendations of the committee, there was reduction in the taxes of the farmers and they also received compensation.
Perhaps no one at that time could have even realised that the initiative by Gandhiji to solve the problems of farmers would become the cause of the British departure. This satyagraha of Gandhiji became the weapon of freedom movement. Thousands and thousands of people got ready to go to jail on his call. Personally, I feel proud that my father freedom fighter Jawaharlal Darda alias Babuji was among those who went to jail on the call of Gandhiji.
I have heard a lot of stories from Babuji about Gandhiji. It seems that today the countrymen though remember Gandhiji, they do not follow his path. Gandhiji knew that to change the fate of this country, it will have to start with the farmers only. Maybe that is why he went to Champaran. What is the condition of our farmers today?
In my article last week I had put this fact in black and white. Thousands of farmers commit suicide each year because they take loans for farming but the crop yield is not such that they could repay the loan and also eat two square meals a day! It is a dream for them to give good education to their children and live a life of little comfort. As a result, the distressed farmers commit suicide. I think that if we want the farmers to stop committing suicide and create better conditions, then Gandhiji and his Champaran satyagraha can show a new direction.
But the point here is that we need to try honestly to find a way to improve the conditions of the farmers. When Gandhiji was included in the committee, Edward had not even realised that Gandhiji would present before him such facts that it would not be possible for him to refute.Then, Gandhiji had called a lot of workers from all over the country and prepared a complete data of injustices sufferred by the farmers.
Are we preparing such data which can show us a real picture of our farmers? The truth is that neither the government nor the society, regardless of the problems of the farmers, is worried. I am sad to see that Gandhiji's name is used by all the parties. All are seen bowing down before him in reverence in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, but no one remembers the path he had shown. Bapu's path of secularism seems to have gone missing somewhere in the darkness. On the completion of hundred years of the Satyagraha of Champaran, will we follow the path of Bapu?
Before I conclude
It is a worrisome news that over two-third of the Great Barrier Reef located in Australia, the world's largest coral system, has been damaged. Before the news of the scientists arrived, the length of this wall was approximately 2300 kilometres. Most of it is under water but some part is also visible outside. Its specialty is that it is the only living thing on Earth that can also be seen from space. Scientists have said that due to the bad effects of climate change, there are lesser chances for survival of the Great Barrier Reef, and there is a possibility that the reef will be completely destroyed by 2050. Nature has given us many unusual gifts but we don’t care. All creatures are creatures of nature, then why is man destroying nature?