With the triumphant win of the Narendra Modi campaign and the Right riding home with an absolute majority; the Political Right in India has gauged the pulse of the nation by moving away from faith based politics and riding the wave of the strong rhetoric of development and muscular leadership. In contrast, the Left of Centre- the motley bunch of the semi-national players that brandish themselves by secularism, regional pride and somewhat pragmatic definition of secularism were marginalised. AIADMK, TMC and BJD as regional behemoths expanded their space, but the once mighty Congress and the traditional left (read CPM) and quasi-socialist actors in form of the SP, BSP, JDS, JDU, NCP all had to eat humble pie (or halwa for all that matter). The alternative political discourse offered by the Aam Admi Party was silenced by the Tsu-NaMo that wiped it off in the political landscape of Delhi. The indecisive leadership and aborted governance story of Kejriwal was a damp squib.
The Left of Centre is rudderless such as the BJP after the 2009 polls under an uninspiring campaign under Mr. Advani. The youth factor of Rahul & Co + State Welfarism (i.e Jairam Ramesh administered MNERGA) won the day for UPA. Then it went into self destruct policy paralysis mode and with all the mega scandals time was ripe for a strong decisive leader which the Sangh and the BJP capitalized on. The mood of the nation mandated a message of salvation. A message which was communicated well.
So, What lessons can the Left of Centre political continuum derive to drive its politics in the Modi Age. A few pointers are stated below:
Congress: Rahul Factor was ineffective. With 44 seats, Congress needs a reboot. Priyanka has more charm and will help a lot more. It would be great to have a Jyotiraditya and a Shashi to lead the party region wise, dismantle dynastic high command culture and project a strong leadership orientation. Secularism is a hackneyed horse. Pluralism and Inclusive Growth are values that still resonate. More empowered Regional Leaders and an aspiration oriented message is the need of the hour. In short, wake up or Congress as we know will be history as TMC, NCP and YSRC have more muscle and overpower them.
AAP: A ground up self organised urban movement that had a lot of energy and lost its way in the quest to spread itself thin. Message for AAP; Let Kejriwal be the anarchist and the organizer, and have a Yogendra Yadav lead the political face of the party. Aspirational, Educated, Urbane. Concentrate on a few geographies and expand such as Delhi, Punjab and Haryana where they still have purchase.
Left Front : Ideologue named Prakash Karat is as charismatic as a brick wall. The left is decimated in Bengal and a marginal entity in Kerala. Tripura is a dot on the map with two MPs. Needs an energetic Young Leader with a national catch phrase. Learn from your ideological cousins in Beijing comrades!
SP, BSP, NCP, JDU : The quasi-socialist gang have exhausted their caste and minority appeasement card. The nation wants a clear cut development agenda. Caste Cauldrons of UP and Bihar have voted for development. Re-structuring of the political message needed.
Values of pluralism and inclusiveness are treasured in the intellectual fabric of the Idea of India. The Demographic youth bulge has spoken. Jobs and Services are tangibles that are political weapons in the gladiatorial theater of Indian Electoral Democracy.
The Left under reformist Buddhadeb won 35 of 42 seats, won urban Bengal in 2004 polls and Left dictated terms for 4 years until the Indo-US Nuclear Deal Fiasco. International Ideological positions over rode energy security. Lessons from History are to be learnt. If the BJP can, i hope the opposition can too.