Kapil Sibal likely to emerge more powerful now that he is out of the Congress
With the resignation of Kapil Sibal from the Congress party, it has lost a tall leader who has substantial clout and stature with national and regional political parties and leaders from across all political parties. Sibal has the influence, network, and ability to be a force to reckon with. In these days of digital technology, social media, and deep internet penetration, he certainly is a face that can garner support, much more so than anyone in the opposition.
Fake vs Real
In today’s India, the name Gandhi has two connotations. The first one is “fake Gandhi” and the other is real. Of these two, the usage of “fake-Gandhi” has emerged as a buzzword. Thanks to social media and YouTube, the term “fake Gandhi” is more popular than the real Gandhi. With this, there is a devaluation of the real Gandhi too. Over the years, Congress propaganda machines could successfully blur the difference between these two but with the proliferation of digital media, this myth is being burst.
Congress used the name and narration called “unique contributions and sacrifices of Gandhiji” to the nation to win elections. But who is Gandhi? Today voters know well that this is a fake identity of a great person called Gandhi, the real Mahatma. Further, the fake ones carry little value or ideology.
Violence & Himsa is the new ideology
The gangs surrounding the fake ones are often violent, specialized, and focused on cyberbullying. There was deep silence from the fake ones when Kapil Sibal’s house was attacked in Delhi. No official condemnation came from the party or its leadership.
A company that sells and markets fake products or services will eventually be closed down.
The fact remains that a brand that has the seal of ‘fakeness’ cannot be sold in the market, and Kapil Sibal knows it very well. A vast majority of the Congress sympathizers too know this fact very well. The seal of approval and endorsement from a fake Gandhi can be a matter of concern for candidates and political parties that are aligned with them. It affects the winnability of a candidate. Influencing voters with a fake tag will be costly, indeed one of the causes of the current crisis of the Congress party, which they will never approve of. Further, a company that sells and markets fake products or services will eventually be closed down.
Jobs, development, and peace
A party is just another product in the political market. He or she (voter) is no longer permanently wedded to a brand or identity. He/she can join any group, forum, or support any symbol. Ideology is survival, development, jobs, and smooth life. The voter is an entrepreneur in the free-market economy, where she/he believes in a level playing field in all spheres of life including politics and power.
Voter and digital media
The Indian voter of today spends time on social media, watching YouTube, posting on Facebook or sharing WhatsApp messages/posts. Literate or illiterate, YouTube videos and visual clips from multiple platforms are being seriously engaged by Indian audiences of all ages. The voter has access to a plethora of information sources and reaches everyone through mass media and digital platforms.
Internal democracy and periodical elections missing in political parties
While recognizing the contributions made by the founding fathers of this nation should not mean that they are to be worshipped as Gods. Building dynasties or cults or religions out of those founding fathers of the nation for managing power need close vigilance to avoid similar cases as that of post-1998 Congress, where a single group control power structures in a careful manner. How is it that political parties that do not conduct periodical elections and follow the tenets of internal democracy can still be considered a formal, registered party? This calls for the election commission to ensure periodical elections and an internal democratic process in all registered parties.
Kapil Sibal new face of the opposition
Kapil Sibal is an alternative face that can mobilize voters from across all segments of society. The strength of ideas, arguments, and independent thoughts matters in today’s polity. Winning elections today in the digital age is not the same as in earlier days. Today’s voter is different; he/she is more empowered, believes in equal opportunity and has access to technology and multiple digital platforms. Voters and politicians are constantly in communication and mutually engaged. A major portion of mobilization happens through multiple media platforms, channels, and networks.
Winning elections is no more a game of very strong organizational framework and capacity. A leader who can influence minds at a pan-Indian level and unite different parties on a set of common goals can be a challenge to BJP in 2024 and strengthen democracy.
Sibal stronger outside the Congress
A Kapil Sibal within the Congress party would have been a much weaker hand-tied down and prevented from applying his skills and potential. Out of Congress, he is much more powerful. Leaders of democracy emerge and evolve and are not born into a family with a divine right to govern and control a political party as once observed by poll strategist Prashanth Kishore.
Had the G-23 leaders attempted to break the Congress, there would have been a huge hue and cry from those who support the so-called High-Command. Resignation dramas would have been enacted similar to that of 1998 when Sharad Pawar raised the Italian origin issue. Kapil Sibal has come out of a self-inhibiting system created over the years through fake narratives. But will he be able to l turn around existing dynamics and equations?