Why G-23 can’t dent Gandhis for now

Prime News, National (New Delhi), Oct 5:- The battle between Rahul Gandhi and the G-23 is not just a turf war. It is a battle for personal political survival. We will not understand this if we only look it from the point of view of party politics. Realpolitiks is much more than that. The political system consists of not just what is visible to us, but the entire system of power that helps parties win.

The biggest role played here is of the various national and regional elites – big corporates, the babudom, judicial officers, media, public intellectuals, urban power-brokers, big landlords and even foreign companies, funds and institutions. It is only when a significant proportion of these disparate elites stand behind a political party that it can come to power.

Of course, in democracies, political parties rule in the name of the people. And in India, the people are overwhelmingly poor. The rule of the elites thus has to be mediated through an electoral process that can mobilise the poor behind a programme that ultimately reproduces the system. So a successful political party needs to forge an invisible coalition between the ruling elites and the voting poor.

The Congress did this successfully for 40 years while the state controlled the commanding heights of the economy and society. From the mid-80s, the push towards privatisation changed this equation, giving a significantly bigger role to mercantile castes and classes. By the 1990s, along with the Rao-Manmohan reforms, public culture was dominated by the valorisation of entrepreneurship; the state was increasingly seen as a hindrance to India’s development.

This change in the political attitude of India’s elites is a crucial condition for the rise of the BJP from the late-80s onwards. By the mid-1990s, the BJP had established itself as the ‘party of rule’, or the party which attracted the majority of ruling elites around it. Between 1971 and 1996, the Congress was the single-largest party in six out of seven Lok Sabha elections. In the 25 years since then, the BJP has been the single-largest party in five out of seven Lok Sabha elections. In effect, the BJP replaced the Congress as the default destination for ruling elites, whether directly or through electoral alliances with regional parties. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

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