NEW YORK – Social media has been rife with sarcasm and irony at Nitish Kumar’s volte-face in Bihar, which apart from adding an extra layer of invincibility to NDA’s now iron-clad grip on power of India’s political arena – which may stretch to more terms in national elections – has also knocked out cold the opposition parties, or what was left of them. The opposition, as it is, was in tatters this past week with the departure of Shankersinh Vaghela to the ranks of the BJP, with three more MLAs following suit, in Gujarat.
What’s left of India’s top opposition parties is nothing to take comfort in, at least for those who believe in a healthy democracy, vibrant Parliament.
The choice of disparate personalities like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mayawati and Rahul Gandhi, say, joining hands in a ‘galathgathbandhan’ bring to the surface ugly, tainted shadows from the past, of their own and their party’s legacy, which hover like wailing ghosts and screeching banshees. It would make a generation of voters squirm at the possibility of any one of them moving into 7, Lok Kalyan Marg.
The issues of massive corruption, mafia raj, nepotism, a million statues in every slum and transfers apart (don’t be surprised if Mayawati were to become Prime Minister, both Rana Daggubati and Mohanlal are banished to work in only Haryanvi films, apart from all IAS officers shuffled bi-weekly), there’s also the uncomfortable possibility of Rahul Gandhi taking off for vacation whenever he gets a little bored making fervent appeals of farmers from prepared speeches, handing over India’s future to a close relative.
Last week, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman appointed his son, Mohammed bin Salman, to take charge as he went off to enjoy a vacation, in a secret location. Who would Gandhi entrust the future of India to, as he goes off on his numerous jaunts to Italy, the UK and the US? Robert Vadra, perhaps.
Ouch! The NDA just secured another four years in office.
With exception of Mamata Banerjee and Chandrababu Naidu, there are no proven politicians in the opposition ranks, in India. Arvind Kejriwal has not quite turned out to be the messiah of the poor, expanded his base, as was expected of him. With more defections and disgruntlement in AAP than stones pelted at the Indian Army in Kashmir, the molded steel melted some time ago.
While India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s task has become harder on the borders, with an unpredictable China ratcheting up war sirens, crazy Pakistan in fresh throes of political instability with the stepping down of Nawaz Sharif – and surely foment more unrest in Kashmir through insidious terrorism, his work within confines of India is becoming a consummately easy process. Lay down rules and policies. Billion plus populace, please follow, in tandem, is now the given mantra.
How good or bad, this is, for Modi, and India, only time will tell. Though, it’s likely most Indians are feeling a vague sense of unrest at the tremendous amount of power vested with one political entity in India.
Modi’s onerous task would also be to see that the NDA doesn’t start to lean too far to the right, to ensure that he firmly clamps down on the crazy fringe elements, who glorify Hindutva more than secular values.
If the course of the right is on an upward curve for Modi and the NDA, scything through the opposition, the reverse is happening for President Donald Trump, and the GOP, in the United States.
With the defeat of the repeal of Obamacare, slayed on the floor of the Senate by fellow Republican Sen. John McCain – who will now go happily for treatment to his brain cancer, Trump has now not only to worry about the Democrats making a famous comeback in the 2020 elections, but the disintegration of the party, imploding as it is with dire squabbles from within the echelons of the White House, to the Secret Services, and Capitol Hill. It remains to be seen how long Jeff Sessions will last.
While the Trump administration drama and turbulence makes great binge watching for policy hawks and political junkies, for the American voters who expect smart legislature to alleviate problems, improve quality of life, it’s a big setback. For now, stocks continue to soar, stores continue to shut down. What else will soar and sink, remains to be seen.
With either the Democrats or fellow Republicans balking at constructive measures, unity as scant as sunshine in the night, it’s only the illegal immigrants, Muslims, transgenders and gays who have felt the negative consequences, till now.
The rest of America is still waiting, for the good or the bad, of it all.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)