ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
-A A +A

The State of Politics


The state of politics in Maharashtra seems to be anchored around two determinations that, in their logic, have entangled three parties: the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena. One of the determinations suggests that these three parties must form the government in the state, while the other suggests that these parties should form the government. The word “must” underlies the necessity, while the word “should” suggests desirability. While these parties under reference seem to be vacillating between the two determinations, the “political imposter,” for whom being politically correct has become a habit, has definite suggestions particularly for both the Congress and the NCP, in that such parties “must” not form the government with Shiv Sena. The word “must” in such suggestions assigns a fixed direction to electoral politics and does not leave any space for deliberation. Some of the political commentators who, on moral grounds, hold a “pure” view of politics, find all the three parties not qualified enough to form the government. According to this view, both the Congress and the NCP have a shaky commitment to “secularism.” However, in the midst of such scepticism, the deliberations among the three parties are on and, as the media reports suggest, seem to be heading towards the formation of the government.

Although the deliberations between them remained quite tentative, these parties do not seem to have put a final closure on the deliberations that are expected to lead to the formation of the government. Arguably, deliberations that have been happening for some time in an opaque form do indicate that these parties are admitting in such deliberations their respective considerations that suggest forming the government has now become a practical necessity. The consideration, particularly coming from the Congress and the NCP, involves some degree of studied ambiguity, which is “clear” in their political moves that are made with care and caution. This “care” and “caution” seem to have avoided the notion of “impossibility” in the deliberation.

It is also true that the deliberations do have considerations that converge on the commitment that these parties seem to be seeking from Shiv Sena that the latter needs to soften its stand on hard Hindutva. The suggestion implies that although pluralism and communal harmony are non-negotiable values, in exceptional circumstances, they are required to be treated as a signpost. In this regard, it is interesting to observe that Shiv Sena’s considerations seem to involve the public reason that rescuing the farmers from natural calamities is expected to help Shiv Sena underplay its commitment to Hindutva. The question that has to be raised here is the following: Will Shiv Sena progressively move towards conviction with responsibility, or revert to conviction that is considered to be quite conservative; conservative, as it has maintained a strong belief in its reactionary past and almost a complete silence on critiquing the hierarchical social order. The question also needs to be raised in regard to both the ­Congress and the NCP: Will they firm up their commitment to organise their politics around responsible conviction? One cannot expect clear answers from the parties, and much will depend on the transcendental necessity to iron out such conviction through continuous deliberation, which would help keep hazardous assertions out of consideration.

A deliberative sphere of politics necessarily involves considerations backed by a responsible conviction. This kind of conviction normally does not entertain the language of compulsion. Such language necessarily emanates from the pragmatic consideration of sharing power for the mutual benefit of the parties that choose to get involved in deliberation. The responsible convictions that are internal to morally informed deliberation will normatively prioritise what genuinely, and not rhetorically, matters most to the common people.

This is not to suggest that there could be conviction without compulsion. Political parties, indeed, feel compelled to produce responsible conviction; conviction is geared up to not only ensure peace and communal harmony—perhaps friendship in society—but to act swiftly in order to save those who are in distress. Politics that has entered uncertainty in the contemporary times in the aftermath of election results in Maharashtra can create such a space for responsible conviction. It can promote space for moral conviction that, in turn, can prevent the parties from misguiding masses into communal mobilisation around any religious symbols. Responsible conviction is not a one-time achievement in moral commitment to the belief in communal harmony. It has to be cultivated through a careful and constant deliberation and dialogue, not just with the party workers, but more importantly, with the general common masses.

Updated On : 26th Nov, 2019


(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top