The Janata Experiment’s tomorrow never dies

loknayak-jayaprakash-narayanI do not consider myself left or right leaning in political terms.  I look at Indian politics and World politics on an issue-by-issue basis.  The modern Indian political animal is not a prisoner of ideological dogma.  He or she just wants to see India doing well without losing the core values of being Indian.  We understand our values as upheld by our constitution on letter but I concede that we are far away from observing the same values in spirit.  The distortion, the misinterpretation, and the misinformation campaigns of various political outfits are dragging India down, irrespective of whether the parties are leaning to the left, the right or the center.

Having said this, I have always had a fondness for the third front in India that includes the non-Congress, the non-BJP and the non-communist parties (although all three parties have attempted to bolster the third front with different intentions and with limited success).  The Janata experiment is an unfulfilled promise and a ray of hope for people like me, who miss the third alternative.  I think India is losing big time due to the lack of a pan-Indian third alternative.

Post Script:  A brief history of the Janata experiment

Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan took the battles to Indira Gandhi after she imposed Emergency in the late 1970s.  His school of thought produced many students of politics who are now big leaders in the Congress, the BJP and the larger relicts of the erstwhile Janata parivar throughout India.  After Janatha party’s defeat in the 1980s, despite short-lived governments of VP Singh, Chandrashekhar and the various forms of United Front in the 1990s, the Janata Dal has remained a bridge too far.  The Janata experiment withered away for the same reasons that brought it into the fore.  It encouraged individual judgement and placed the onus of responsibility on individuals.  The same values encouraged big ego in some leaders that tore the party despite attempts to hold it together.  Janata Dal was not a party defined by affiliations of caste or social status and it was not bogged down by religious ideologies, although some leaders have succumbed to such pressures and some leaders have lost their credibility in doing vote bank politics.  The original Janata experiment was in the true sense a people’s movement.  I don’t want to equate the Janata experiment with the recent experiments involving AAP in Delhi.   The original Janata parivar was full of veteran freedom fighters and political thinkers who knew what they should be doing if they were in office.

See this for a brief history:  Time lines: The Janata Experiment:  published in The Hindu:  April 2015

Relicts of the erstwhile Janata parivar have enjoyed power in various states across India, although they have had nothing significant to show in the parliamentary elections.  Since the 1990s, although many leaders in the Janatha party were once full-fledged Congressmen, some regional leaders defined themselves as equidistant from the Congress and the BJP (Jan sangh).  Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha, Janata Dal in Karnataka (split in 1990s into Janata Dal united and Janata Dal secular) are two examples that can speak of a political tradition that is distinct from either the Congress or the BJP.  Nitish Kumar in Bihar is the most important regional face of the Janata experiment today.  Some leaders who call themselves descendants of the old Janata experiment do not deserve a mention in my article.  I will not waste time on them.  Ramakrishna Hegde, J H Patel and H D Devegowda in Karnataka, Naveen Patnaik in Odisha were and are popular leaders and represent good aspects of the Janata ideal despite their personal flaws.

Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United) is the current chief minister of Bihar.  Bihar finished voting today for a new state assembly.  Obviously, nobody knows who will win or lose.  Nonetheless, Nitish Kumar symbolizes many things I like to see in an Indian political leader.  He speaks the language of development, he is apparently uncorrupt, and he comes across as someone who understands Indian ethos of social harmony and pragmatism.  I hope he wins in Bihar again.  If there is anyone I would like to see at a more prominent central position, it will be someone like Nitish Kumar.

I am absolutely hammer and tongs against Hindi bias in the parliamentary discourse. But, for various bad reasons, South Indian leaders do not have a chance to lead India at the national level. A sad reflection of Delhi centric view of India.

Added on Aug 9th, 2017 

Nitish Kumar has ditched his aspirations to be a future Prime Minister of India.  By realigning with BJP in Bihar state assembly, he has signaled that 2019 parliamentary election is a foregone conclusion.  The cold fact is that his decision has nothing to do with the BJP or the Congress.  He recognizes that he has limited or no relevance outside Bihar.  The Janata experiment has imploded every time it has shown some signs of revival. A sad development by any measure (objective or otherwise). 


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