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Friday, November 11, 2005


Is the Right falling apart?

Both the Republican party in the United States and the BJP in India have been the right-wing flag bearers in their respective political arenas. Both are struggling today.

The Republican party has lost its ideological and, most definitely, its legislative way. The social conservatives, who were virtually unopposed by socially moderate fiscal conservatives in the last Presidential election, seem to have disproportionate attention of lawmakers. Everybody in a democracy has their sets of issues that energizes them but here in America the last few years have seen a surge of right-leaning social activists become louder and more influential. That influence has extracted a broader political cost for the Republican party as a whole, who people now see alienated from the real issues of energy and the economy at large. Even their stance and strategy on terrorism is being called into question. More so because the strategy incorporated a war in Iraq. With both the House and Senate leaders under investigations (prosecutorial and SEC respectively) the structural and ideological cohesion the GOP enjoyed is almost gone.

In India, the BJP has little to show in terms of any policy inputs or even opposition besides some politically necessary pronouncements from time to time to let the public know that they are politically alive. They have been marred by serious infighting that erupted from the most unexpected of sources - a controversy over Jinnah, that shook the ideological foundation of the BJP and its parent organization the RSS. The only other times the BJP has been in the news has been when they have targeted cabinet members like Laloo Prasad Yadav and Natwar Singh for their alleged roles in corruption scandals. Nothing positive yet to come from the BJP as in any policy initiatives that one would expect given their dismal faring in the last general election. The fact that the masses rejected them hasn't yet forced them to review or even suggest any economic gameplan that is more inclusive than what the ill-conceived "India Shining" campaign banked on.

Extreme ideas have a limited lifespan. Their irrelevance to real issues that people face on a daily basis once revealed takes down the politicians who mouthed them. And as these ideologues slip into oblivion a more moderate and meaningful political entity emerges. Hopefully. It seems we're in that transition period both here and in India. Waiting for a real political alternative to emerge.



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