Well, the desire to dissolve people may sound ludicrous but this seems to be the feeling in the Bharatiya Janata Party in the wake of its rout in the Delhi Assembly polls. The party’s chief ministerial candidate, Kiran Bedi, has articulated this feeling in her open letter. She laments that, apart from an implementable vision and plans, people “also want freebies… more you give, more you get.”
Oh, the people, the wretched people! Can’t see what a great person she is and what a great party the BJP is! And horror of horrors! They choose an anarchist over her and a pack of riffraff over the party with difference!
Such smugness and self-righteousness are reminiscent of the communist parties during the cold war. In those days, it was considered the duty of the people governed by commies to behave themselves—that is, as per the Theory and the diktats of the Party. A prime instance was the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany. Workers went on strike in the country that was supposedly ruled by the representatives of the proletariat. Five hundred thirteen people were killed in the reprisals, while 104 were injured and over 5,000 were arrested.
As was, and is, the wont of communists, the entire blame was heaped on the agitators. Initially German playwright Bertolt Brecht supported the government but, apparently troubled by his own conscience and the severity of repression, he wrote a poem:
After the uprising of the 17th of June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts.
Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
That was then, in Germany. Sixty two years later in our country, the BJP exhibits similar pigheadedness. It believes that the people have “forfeited the confidence of the government”; maybe it is time to “elect another”!
And how did the people fail the BJP? As Bedi put it, “They do not get it still, that there are no free lunches in life. If you rob Peter to pay Paul, it won’t be long before all get robbed.” Well, the leader from a party devoted to the political philosophy of Milton Friedman would have had some authenticity in saying such things. But the BJP’s economic programme is as populist and statist as that of the Aam Aadmi Party and other parties; it talked about, among other things, providing concrete houses in place of slums in situ. It has continued with the previous government’s food security law, which has been slammed by experts as fiscally and economically ruinous.
Let’s face it: populism is the alpha and omega of political discourse; every political party wallows in it; so, blaming the people for injecting irresponsibility and imprudence in political economy is unjust and incorrect.
But blame game appears to have become the favorite pastime of the saffron party. Some hold the arrogance of the top leadership for the mess, others think that making Bedi the chief ministerial candidate did the damage. On her part, Bedi is unhappy with the electorate’s folly to have fallen for the outlandish promises made by the AAP.
Few in the Sangh Parivar, however, are willing to notice the existence of the elephant in the room—complete lack of action on the part of the authorities to improve governance in Delhi. In the eight months after its victory in May last year, the BJP was in full control in the national Capital—at the Centre, in the state administration, and in the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi. It did nothing to make the lot of the people better—not in cleanliness despite the Swachh Bharat theatrics, nor in women safety, nor in any other area. Apart from making high-flown speeches and launching programmes, Modi and his cronies did little that could be perceptible to the man in the street.
And now they are blaming the people for their own incompetence and complacency. It is time the BJP did some introspection; extrospection will not help.