A stable democracy is characterized by the ability of different opinions to be registered on a political level. And a political view can be as far right as fascism or as far left as communism. BUT, for a democracy like India, which is so vast and diverse, it is important to funnel down all acceptable ideas and opinions (by which I mean parties) into a manageable league.
A classic political system recognizes three streams of politics: left, right and centre. Left is usually people oriented, liberal, progressive and modern force while the right is more capital oriented, a private enterprise supporter, conservative and traditional in its ways. Centre is a moderate idea which distances itself from any inclinations and due to its impossible ideology is now a dead idea. Nobody these days is politically centre.
“We work best as a democracy when we have a left of centre and a right of centre voice in the house”
In India, our major political parties can also be segregated into these groups. BJP is right-wing with its conservative ideology but has elements of left-wing ideologies in matters of social welfare and national interests. Congress is essentially a bit left with its more liberal approach and under Nehru and Indira was completely socialistic and therefore was very much left-wing. BUT, the common association with the term left is communism, which to set the record straight is the extreme of the left wing idea or ‘far left’. India by it very constitution is a ‘socialist democratic republic’ which means we, as a nation are always left of centre.
Now, on the far left, we have communism and Maoism, which carried to this date by CPI (Communist Party of India), CPI-ML (Communist-Marxist-Leninist) and CPI-M (Communist-Maoist) who are basically a bunch of people with guns taking orders from intellectual overlords. CPI and CPI-ML follow the traditional form of communism and believe in state control of resources and absolute social welfare. They do not believe in private ownership and want a completely equal (egalitarian in their words) society. Maoists on the other hand, want ‘a complete destruction of state’ which is also their reason for supporting Naxalism.
On the far right lie Supremacists, Oligarchs, Fascists or what are now commonly called Neo-Nazis. Thankfully no political party in India adheres to such ideology which is why we can safely assume every party in India always has a ‘left wing’ element.
To make things extremely clear (and if I may take the liberty to oversimplify things)
Extreme Left: violent, worker class interest promoter who hate the idea of democracy
Extreme Right: Privileged, powerful people with holier than thou attitude who hate the idea of democracy.
To maintain balance in a democratic structure we always have to work towards moderation and keep away from any kind of extremist ideology. So in a perfect world, we must have two sides to a debate: Right of Centre (Moderately Right) and Left of Centre (Moderately Left). This way we can ensure a healthy system of discussion where we can hope for the best of both worlds to come out in form of legislations and governments.
The problem with Indian political system today is on one side of the aisle we have BJP which is right of centre but has support of far right wings like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and on the other side we have an array of political parties who basically do not have their organisation together. BJP has contested and won the election on the issues of development and progress for every member of society but has faced severe criticism on accounts of human rights violation, curbing freedom of speech and expression and even accused of being a communal party.
“If they take one hindu Girl, We will take one hundred of them”
-Yogi Adityanath, CM Uttar pradesh
It can be argued and will be true up to a point that BJP’s communal image comes from its mother organisation RSS and its sister organisation VHP. RSS primarily is the stalwart of right-wing politics in India. Its agenda of establishing a Hindu Rashtra essentially translates into favoritism of one community over all others, making it a conservative and on the brink of being a far-right group. There have been incidences where BJP leader have openly pushed a clearly Hindu-Hardline image. In BJP’s 2004 election manifesto it states that it wants to ‘establish a Hindu Rashtra’. The intolerant attitude of many BJP leader and their firm belief in Hindutva pushes BJP closer to the far-right side of the political map.
The other major parties in the National Process like Indian National Congress, Samajwadi Party (literally socialist party), Bahujan Samaj Party and Trinamool Congress operate slightly left of centre. Ideally, these parties would be the most progressive and inclusive of all kinds of people. Through bitter experience, India has realized that though the foundation and ideology of these may sound to be in public welfare, their politicians and their practices have made them a laughing stock at the national level politics.
Towards the far left, Communist party of India operates in just a few pockets of the country. At the moment they have been able to get 45 MPs elected to the Lok Sabha. They are clear propagators of violence and do not believe in the process of a democratic society. These ideologies make them unfit for absolute power in a country like India.
The right wing parties like BJP and Shiv Sena are popular amongst people but their overly conservative approach makes India lag behind on key issues like freedom of speech, rights for the LGBT community, freedom of religion and unnecessary moral policing. In recent years we have observed several incidences of abuse of power to propagate a “culture driven retrogressive propaganda”. Be it slaughter of Akhlaq in UP or ill-treatment of college students in the University of Delhi by ABVP goons, the Hindu hardliners have been getting their way by violent means.
“modi’s india might be flirting with fascism”
-Charlie Rose, Senior Journalist at CBS
The left is known for its justifications of violence to achieve the goals they want to. The communist party and Maoist groups have engaged in several acts of violence against the state, from bombing a police station in Jharkhand to killing high profile politicians in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Orissa.
The ideal temperament and principles of a party to lead India into a progressive future is Congress. The grand old party of India possesses the historical legacy and the ideology to become the party India needs. It’s ironical that a party that orchestrated India’s freedom movement, Congress is struggling to maintain a solid structure of itself. The party is marred by poor leadership and should blame its decaying clout on its vehement nepotism. The decision to depend on the Gandhi family as the head of the party has made the party of Nehru and Indira Gandhi a laughing stock in national politics. Essentially the most ideologically sound party is structurally unsound.
The right wing BJP is riding high on popularity and hopes of a better future. In absence of a strong opponent, Mr. Modi and his wagon of BJP-RSS affiliates have the mandate to radically transform Indian politics and society- for good or bad, the decision is theirs. And the history will judge them for their stance.