With just a year left to general elections in India, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid says the "unravelling" of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has begun and the popularity wave on which it came to power in 2014 is waning.
With just a year left to general elections in India, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid says the “unravelling” of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has begun and the popularity wave on which it came to power in 2014 is waning. Against the backdrop of the Dalit protests, the farmers’ agitation and high profile fraud cases, he said “we need to look at whether with this performance should (the BJP) be coming back” to power in 2019. “On that the clear answer is a no.” “I think that the unravelling of the BJP has begun and frankly I wouldn’t be complacent but I think they have a very, very, very tough 2019,” Khurshid told PTI here. The former Minister of External Affairs was in the city to address the 14th Annual India Business Conference at Columbia Business School hosted by the South Asia Business Association at the school. He said that there are “many big questions” about “social disharmony” in the country. “The manner in which the Dalits have reacted, now becoming more acceptable parts of an argument, people have become very self-conscious because of the manner in which the BJP had pushed Muslims to a corner on the minority issue,” he said, adding that the Dalit protests have really caught the people’s attention.
Addressing the conference, Khurshid stressed that “things are changing” for the BJP from when it came to power in 2014 till now. “It is very clear that the popularity wave on which they came to power in 2014 is no where near where it was in 2014. That is more than clear but it hasn’t waned completely,” he said. He said the Congress has a “very good fight” in the upcoming “critical” elections in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. “If Karnataka goes our way as we hope it will, Rajasthan goes our way as we hope it will and Madhya Pradesh too, I think that will make a massive difference. However, we cannot take things for granted. It is important for 2019 for a united front to be up against the BJP,” he said. Khurshid added that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is working very hard for a combination of parties coming together for the 2019 elections. “It is work in progress but I think we shouldn’t get complacent too soon.”
In his address to the conference, attended by students, academicians, entrepreneurs and executives, Khurshid said the problem in India today is that people have been given a lot of promises but governments have not been able to deliver on those promises. “The governments will have to be careful and promise only as much as you can do because frustrated promises and frustrated people can be very disruptive of a democracy,” he said, adding that in India, people disagree on many social issues – from religion, police reform, language to opportunities for communities, reservations and reverse discrimination. “All these problems come to the Supreme Court. Every decision of the Supreme Court is then challenged on the streets of the country. We are in a crisis,” he said, adding that any government that will be in power would have to deal with such issues.
He stressed that “dialogue and conversation” in a democracy are very critical. “You cannot have democracy only on numbers, democracy has to be on communication. The trouble in India today is that we have forgotten that communication is an integral part of democracy and we have restricted ourselves to numbers. Numbers can lead to dictatorship, numbers can lead to a defeat of democracy ironically. Democracy is about numbers and yet numbers defeat democracy,” he said. Khurshid voiced optimism that India will get back to discourse and dialogue and “get back to democracy as it should be – participatory democracy.”