By Umesh Upadhyay
Broadly an ?ideology? can be defined as a set of values, beliefs and principles that guide a political party. All the policies and actions of that political party should be in conformity with these core values. All political parties claim that they have distinct ideologies. Theoretically speaking, it makes sense as otherwise we don'tneed to have to so many political parties. Every political party comes into existence to propagate its values. It generates public opinion on what it thinks is right for the country or the people it represents.
In a democratic system, a political party must also have a share in decision making and hence it enters into electoral politics. Here comes the dilemma that all parties face. Do they seek votes only from those believing in their ideology? Not possible. As the core supporters of any political party are always in a limited number, it seeks to broaden its ?appeal?. It goes for compromises and thus creates alliances. But how much a political party should compromise in the power game in a democracy? Or can you depend on ideology as a basic tool to do the business of statecraft? Power Politics vs. Ideology therefore, is the real issue.
If we look at the broad political formations today in India, we have two national parties, the Congress and the BJP. Communist parties are essentially regional but they have a distinct ideology. There are regional parties like PDP, NC, Akali Dal, Shivsena, NCP, BJD, AIADMK and DMK, etc. Then there are the so called socialist parties like SP, RJD, JD(U) and JD(S). Most of them are socialist just for name sake only as they are run like private limited companies belonging to one family. The Bahujan Samaj Party has a different orientation. It is personality based and thus has more or less become a regional party.
Congress, right from the freedom struggle days has been described as an umbrella organisation where people having different ideologies come together. But long back the party lost whatever little ideological clarity it had when it became synonymous with the Nehru-Gandhi family. That practically leaves only the BJP and the communists parties. Both claim to be ideology led and cadre based organisations.
The BJP having its roots in Jana Sangh started with a distinctive ideology. It was perceived to be an alternative to the Congress in true sense of the term. It left some of the basic values it stood for in its quest to form a non-Congress government in Delhi. The party today looks like a pale shadow of what it was a decade back. Actually if we were to leave aside the issue of ?secularism? there seems to be a thin line differentiating the Congress and the BJP. Rhetoric apart, it is difficult to decide who is a better ?pseudo? secularist of the two.
It'sa very interesting state of affairs that we find in the political parties today. The moot issue is?is ideology irrelevant or it is an end of ideology in the business of statecraft as well propounded? I beg to differ. The Indian democracy was never in such a state of vacuum so far as the ideological orientation is concerned. It needs ideological and value based politic now much more than any time in its history. But and it is a big BUT, it does not need ideologies based on the past dogmas. The world no longer is the same as it was some 50 years ago. And this change is like the change that happened with the coming of the industrial revolution in Europe.
Indian democracy was never in such a state of vacuum so far as the ideological orientation is concerned. It needs ideological and value-based politics much more than any time in its history.
Running the business of statecraft has changed since the end of the Cold War in the late 20th century. The sharp ideological divide between the communists on one hand and the NATO allies on the other and the non aligned countries hanging somewhere in between is a thing of past. The post Cold War world is witnessing a total paradigm shift.
Let us understand the biggest challenges that the polity faces today. These are jehadi terrorism; ?free trade? led globalization, and environmental degradation. Same old ideological tools and jargons that emerged out of them like imperialism and colonialism vs. non imperialism, secularism vs. communalism are no longer valid. But the Leftists in India continue to live in the by gone era.
While Beijing and Moscow have changed, the communists in India apply the same old remedies to the dangers that are unique to the new world of 21st century. The issue is how do you fight a madrasa born jehadi having a medieval age mind set on ideological basis? Will you teach him secularism?
The Indian political class whether secularist or otherwise needs to appreciate that they will have to take terrorism head-on. They should call a spade a spade?and understand that it is born out of an ideology that does not believe in the peaceful coexistence of all faiths?an essential Indian belief.
Running the business of statecraft has changed since the end of the Cold War in the late 20th century. The sharp ideological divide between the communists on one hand and the NATO allies on the other and the non-aligned countries hanging somewhere in between is a thing of past. The post-Cold War world is witnessing a total paradigm shift.
The other major issue that confronts the polity is, how to manage forces unleashed by free trade driven market in a developing country like India. The ideological tools and jargons of the last century have become obsolete. The conventional interpretations of terms like imperialism, swadeshi, swavalamban, etc may not be sufficient to understand the issues in a totally ?connected? and ?wired? world.
The third major problem especially for a country like India is the question of environmental degradation. With the Indian economy slated to grow at the rate of seven per cent and more, the energy needs of the country are growing phenomenally. We already have a high density of population. How does one deal with it? It is a question of survival of crores of poor people. One may argue that these are the issues to be dealt by experts. I disagree. These, I say are the fundamental ideological issues that the polity has to confront. And the survival of India as a nation depends on resolving them.
India is also on the threshold of a big change and the polity of today has to come out with ideological tools to understand this phenomenon so as to enable it to make appropriate policies. The onus lies more on national parties like the Congress and the BJP. Will the Congress come out of the dogmas of secularism and will the BJP emerge from the ideological confusion it has created for itself? Any guesses?
(The writer is the Executive Editor, Janmat TV channel. He can be contacted at C-8/8663, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi-110 070.)