Dismiss it as a wild dream, a sign of arrogance, bravado, insatiable lust for power or whatever, but make no mistake that when the BJP president Amit Shah declares that his party will rule India for the next 50 years he is pointing to an India where only his party will be allowed to rule; all other parties being ‘anti-national’ would be dissolved and banned.
In fact, Shah was only following up on his old cry for a ‘Congress-Mukt’ (Congress-free) India which had thrilled the Sangh Parivar and other self-styled conscious keepers of the nation — mostly creeping in the media world — who say that the ‘decisive’ BJP with a ‘strong leadership’ is the only party worthy of ruling the country.
The idea of ‘Congress-Mukt’ India translates into ‘Opposition-Mukt’ India that will establish a one-party rule in the country. ‘Congress’ is the BJP code for the Opposition because rightly or wrongly the BJP treats only the Congress — and the party president Rahul Gandhi — as its main rival and only casually mentions other parties during its vitriolic fulminations.
It is quite possible that the BJP is confident that at any crucial moment in the future, it would be able to gobble up most other non-Congress parties and emerge as an unchallenged player. It is, after all, a fact that almost all major non-BJP parties—including the Communists—have in the past either joined hands with the BJP or extended support to governments that included the saffron party.
What appears to facilitate the BJP path to a single-party state is that many of the smaller Opposition parties of today have shown little resistance to crossing over to the BJP which guarantees power with pelf. The BJP’s feat of converting defeat into victory was witnessed in Goa and some other smaller states—and the subsequent accolade that it received from the media for this dubious jugglery. The BJP ‘won’ because of the Mach speed with which it handled the situation!
Having mastered the magical art of luring smaller Opposition parties and ensured nothing but applause from ‘watchdogs’, the BJP can be sure that it will find only reluctant critics among the so-called mainstream media if it converts democratic, pluralistic India into a dictatorship and exclusive state.
It might be asked how can it be possible without changing the Constitution. Recall the BJP luminaries who have declared repeatedly that they would change the Constitution. Denials by the government that it has no desire to change the Constitution is like its defence of demonetization, price rise and Rafale deal—weak and unconvincing, if not based on lies.
If the way the larger sections of the ‘mainstream’ media reacted to the above named issues is any indication there is little to doubt that a BJP-ruled one-party state of India will meet no criticism in the media. Over 20 Opposition parties had come together to protest against the astronomical rise in the prices of petrol and diesel and it is an issue that affects the rich as well as the poor. Most of the media outlets underplayed the protests; instead irrelevant issues were raised, like the ‘inconvenience’ caused to the public by the Bharat Bandh even if it in their opinion it was a failure.
Stories of the Bandh were counterpoised with exaggerated stories of division in the Opposition. What seemed to be of interest to the media was the Kailash Yarta of Rahul Gandhi during the preceding days to show that his heart was not in the Bandh call. A union minister received prominence media space for hawking fake news about a child dying during the Bandh.
The Rafale aircraft deal struck by Modi with France has put the government on the mat. Strenuous efforts are being made to extricate Modi and his government from criticism. A dangerous precedent was set when two serving Air Marshals were roped in to not only speak in defence of the Rafale deal but also denounce the Opposition for being ill-informed. Serving military officers of four-star rank are not expected to wade into the political territory. In one-party states it would be quite natural.