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- Column by Shekhar Gupta Three Big Political Mistakes of Independent India
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Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, The Print
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech of thanks to the President’s address, enumerated the mistakes of the Nehru-Gandhi family in the seventy years of India’s post-independence history. This left us with another question: What was the biggest and most important political mistake of any party or politician in independent India?
It’s hard to name just one mistake, so we’re limiting our research to the last 50 years by listing three blunders. I present these errors in the order I think they are most impressive.
1. Indira Gandhi targeted the Sangh during the Emergency and jailed thousands of its workers, many of whom were anonymous. He was different from the Jana Sangh leaders he imprisoned. 2. In 1989, Rajiv Gandhi decided not to form a government. Mandate said he was against it and respected it. His party was the largest party in the Lok Sabha (197 seats). 3. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani were encouraged to win elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh with large majorities, holding general elections six months ahead of schedule.
Your first question might be: why didn’t you consider the imposition of emergency as the biggest political mistake? Why was it considered so important to target and imprison RSS cadres instead? The answer to these questions is simple.
Indira Gandhi was soon acquitted of the Emergency. Within three years, he returned to power with an absolute majority. If his party remained in power for 25 of the 46 years after the Emergency, it is clear that the public forgave him for his mistakes during the Emergency. But it legitimized the RSS as a political force and gave it the status of its own party’s main ideological rival.
However, until now, the strength of his party was that it did not fight with any ideology. He also gave some strength to the RSS. Samajwadi Jayaprakash Narayan has also converted its cadres into its vanguard squad. After some time, the Jan Sangh re-incarnated as the BJP, which became the only ideological challenger to the declining Congress in the following decades.
The 1989 elections reduced Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress to 197 seats from 414 in 1984–85. The second largest party was the Janata Dal, which won only 143 seats and its senior leader VP Singh was a strong contender for the post of prime minister.
Deciding not to stake a claim to form the government, the Congress paved the way for an unusual alliance in which the BJP and the Left parties, bitter ideological enemies of each other, backed the VP. Singh’s government was formed.
Rajiv must have thought that such an incongruous alliance would not last long and would come back to power in the next election. But he failed to understand the risks involved in giving LK Advani an opportunity to establish the BJP as a national alternative to the Congress.
On the other hand, the Congress continued to weaken, on the other hand, Advani’s BJP’s number of seats soon reached the hundred mark, and he got rid of his untouchable mark so much that in 1998, a sufficient number of regional parties. formed an alliance with
Mandalwadi and Left parties also accepted alliance with BJP. It was a gift from Rajiv Gandhi in 1989. Just think about it. The Congress refused to form a government despite having 197 MLAs, whereas for 20 years all subsequent alliances (1996, 1998, 1999, 2004) were led by a party with less than that! Rajiv failed to foresee the inevitability of the alliance and his decision to cede power to his most vociferous rivals changed the course of politics.
By January 2004, the BJP leadership was on the upswing after sweeping elections in three Indian heartlands. He speculated that what happened there could happen in other states under his influence. His “ideologues” led by Pramod Mahajan and elements associated with Advani decided to hold elections early and take advantage of the wave.
Vajpayee was the only leader who expressed doubts. Advani’s group operated with another intention, which was not so secret, that Vajpayee’s health would prevent him from being active for more than five years, after which Advani would easily take over the succession.
At that time, India recorded an average economic growth of 8 percent in three quarters. This was reason enough to launch the ‘India Shine’ campaign. In this enthusiasm, the BJP has forgotten what brought it to power. This task was to keep his allies together. As a result, the BJP had to face defeat, even though it won only 138 seats, seven less than the Congress.
Despite being the single largest party in the Lok Sabha, it failed to form a government…
If Rajiv Gandhi had not given up power so easily in 1989, politics could have gone in a different direction in the following decades. Indira Gandhi also gave RSS its place and respect in national politics.
(This is the personal opinion of the author)