Millennium Post

Open politics, Bharat Bandh

After a long time, the Indian politics has hit the road again. The Bharat Bandh observed by the National Democratic Alliance [NDA], the Left parties, the Samajwadi Party and even the United Progressive Alliance [UPA] constituent Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam [DMK] rather successfully recalled the politics of agitation that goes back a long way in the history of Indian democracy.

The issues these parties have raised concern common people of this country. In fact, the anti-establishment agitations of the last two years have all been pro-people, with the government being adamant on pushing in policies whose origin may be questionable. But, do the anti-people policies can have only this kind of response? This is a question whose answer can decide the future course of action of the country’s politics.  It is clear that even the allies of the ruling Congress are uncomfortable with the Manmohan Singh-Montek Singh brand of politics and economics. The DMK has shown it rather defiantly and the Trinamool Congress much more clearly than anyone else. The policies of constantly upping fuel prices – while ignoring the fall in domestic production – ignoring the dominant political opinion on foreign direct investment on multi-brand retail and other such decisions have pitted the central government against itself and its constituents. The strike has been successful in phases. It has been successful in the areas of influence of the parties that chosen to hit the road. A thick-skinned government may not acknowledge the impact of the strike and other forms of protest that the opposition and the allies have adopted, but it may have to admit that these parties are in no mood to relent. Mamata Banerjee has already made it clear that she is not open to negotiation on her opposition to these policies.  These protests have made another kind of politics possible, something that was seen on earlier occasions when the country’s politics moved towards a third alternative. The Right and the Left tend to make some adjustments in their respective stances when such a situation develops and that’s exactly what happened on Thursday during the bandh. They shared space, both political and physical, in the national capital. The Samajwadi Party is also trying to play both sides in this muddle. It takes part in the street protests and it bargains with the Congress as well. In this mixed approach to the politico-economic logic of the current dispensation, one this is certain that bandh or no bandh, there will not be a direct, immediate benefit to the common people. At the same time, the political players will continue to use spaces inside and outside Parliament to pressure the government, which it will not be able to ignore for too long.
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