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Why BJP and Congress must merge

By T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan
July 20, 2018 09:28 IST
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'The BJP and Congress are like those Bollywood lovers who are kept apart by their families where it is a generational problem of different values: The older ones think differently from the younger ones,' argues T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan.

Congress and BJP flags before an election

For the last 20 years, whenever the general election comes around, I trot out an old idea of mine -- the Congress and the BJP must merge.

People laugh, but the fact is undeniable: The two parties have become peas in a pod.

They are alike in every respect except their political loyalty.

Both have just one loyalty, which is a very large one, the loyalty to a single family.

In the case of the BJP, it is the RSS family and in the case of the Congress it is the Gandhi family.

In symbols you can write the RSS:BJP::Gandhis:Congress. Or, in my opinion at least, used to be.

By an extraordinary quirk, if one can call it merely that, the two families have exactly the same effect on the two parties.

On the hand, they act as the glue that keeps the BJP and the Congress from fraying at the edges perchance to dissolve; at the same time, they serve to repulse people who otherwise admire these parties and what they stand for.

That is not the only thing.

Their ideologies, if one may use that term loosely, are also nearly identical.

 

The BJP is now as socialist as the Congress has been since 1937. You only have to look at its election manifestos and its love for the public sector.

And the Congress is now becoming as overtly 'Hindu' as the Jana Sangha/BJP has been since 1953.

The BJP guys have shed their dhotis, ponytails and tilaks and the Congress guys -- taking the cue from Sonia Gandhi, who said at the India Today conclave that the Congress was seen as a 'Muslim' party -- are starting about to adopt them. 'Garv se kaho hum bhi Hindu hain.'

The result is that in the general election of 2019 the BJP will sell what the Congress used to sell -- a promise of development.

And the Congress will sell what the BJP has been selling, namely, its Hindu-ness, if not yet Hindutva.

In economics this is known as product differentiation. In Punjabi, unni-bees da farak.

Their members now come from the same social backgrounds.

Some of them marry each other. In some families some members are in one party and some in the other.

This convergence has been increasing in recent times. You can see it every night on those dreadful news channels where the younger ones now defend the indefensible older ones.

But when they talk privately they chafe at the shackles that their respective 'families' impose on them.

In fact, some of them, who have nothing to lose but their chains, have actually joined one another's parties.

Others have tried to join their twins whenever their parties have been out of power. Most experienced journalists can tell you the names.

I could go on, but I am sure you get the point.

The BJP and Congress are like those Bollywood lovers who are kept apart by their families where it is a generational problem of different values: The older ones think differently from the younger ones.

But try as she might, Sonia Gandhi can't persuade anyone for very much longer that dynastic politics is best for the Congress.

The last dynast just can't be taken seriously because he thinks goodwill can camouflage vacuity.

And try as it will, the RSS can't persuade anyone that the BJP should promote the RSS version of Hindutva and India in the 21st century.

After all, the advocacy of cow urine is a bad advertisement for modernity, never mind how digitally it is done.

All you get in the end from the RSS is someone like Biplab Kumar Deb - the incomparable chief minister of Tripura.

How long will it take for the Tories and the Whigs of India to come together? Not very long. Maybe just ten years.

The main impetus will come from the fact that just as being in power tends to distance the BJP from the RSS, being out of power will distance the Gandhi family from its members. They will gravitate towards each other.

The RSS and the Gandhi family have very potent weapons at their disposal to slow down the process.

The RSS has its volunteer army and the Gandhi family lots of hereditary Fevicol.

The speed of this gravitation, in the end, will depend on how individual MPs see the challenges they face in their constituencies from the regional parties.

These are once again in the ascendant after the debacle of 2014.

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T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan
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