Enfeebled BJP strongman in Gujarat Keshubhai Patel has accepted reality and sought the merger of his shortlived party, the Gujarat Parivartan Party [GPP], with a ‘non-Congress national party’. Patel probably means the BJP but let’s leave it to the GPP to choose what they wish to do.
There are a clutch of other political parties in India whose existence serves no real purpose. They are exhausted and haven’t said or done anything interesting or important for a long while. Barely anyone cares about them.
They seem ready to retire; the 2014 General Election could be an appropriate moment to move on. Here are eight such outfits.
1. Communist Party of India (CPI). AB Bardhan ran the party into the ground leaving almost nothing for Sudhakar Reddy, the current general secretary, to build on. The only CPI member at work is Gurudas Dasgupta, Lok Sabha member from West Bengal, but he could find reelection tough in the face of an aggressive Trinamool Congress. The party might win a seat or two only if Jayalalithaa or Naveen Patnaik lend a hand. The CPI has been in the ICU for so long that it seems to have slipped into coma. Whatever’s left could merge with the CPI[M].
2. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Fifteen years after it was formed it is still only about Sharad Pawar. The core NCP purpose appears to be to instal Pawar as prime minister even if for a week or a month. The party came into being because it was opposed to Italy-born Sonia Gandhi heading the Congress and being seen as potential prime minister. That no longer holds; the NCP and the Congress have been strong UPA allies for a decade. The NCP has no identity or reason to exist. Its members could go where they wish to, the Congress or the BJP.
3. All India Forward Bloc (AIFB). Subhas Chandra Bose founded the party in 1939. Seventy-five years later the group is in a shambles and too embarrassed to even admit it. Their objectives do not merit a political party - they want a Netaji Bhavan in Delhi and a corruption-free India. They can’t even decide if Bose is alive. They have two members in the outgoing Lok Sabha from West Bengal but it would need a miracle for them to retain either this year. The obvious thing for them to do is merge with the CPI[M]. No one will miss them.
4. Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP). The party was formed in 1940 and has split so many times that it doesn’t matter anymore. It is a true relic of communist thought - Marxist Leninist as RSP members would insist - and is kept alive by the CPI[M]. Its MLAs voted for the Trinamool Congress in the recent Rajya Sabha elections, which is a sure sign of its irrelevance. The RSP too has two members in the current Lok Sabha and it would be incredible if they win any for the next 50 years. Its members might most likely choose different paths, not all of them Leftist.
5. Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC). The notorious Bhajan Lal formed this party in 2007 when the Congress refused to make him chief minister of Haryana again. Its sole purpose is to find a decent parking space for Lal’s son Kuldeep Bishnoi. This appears to have been fulfilled with the party’s BJP alliance for the 2014 General Election. Bishnoi is a member of the current Lok Sabha from Hisar and he thinks he can win again with the BJP’s help. He has no ideology which helps him go where he wishes to.
6. Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK). The party says it was formed in 1972; its head is a member of the current Lok Sabha. Based largely out of north Tamil Nadu, the party says dalit lives can be improved by reviving Tamil nationalism. This makes it a foe of Sri Lanka. The VCK says it works for dalits, tribals and religious communities whose members may be lesser in number. Many parties say the same thing. Tamil Nadu and Kerala usually have space for marginal political outfits at the street level but it is difficult to see the VCK relevant in future.
7. Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi (BVA). They have a member in the current Lok Sabha from Maharashtra. Their members are basically peasants from the Kunbi community who are kshatriyas in terms of caste. They say they were once royalty although it is not clear how this makes a difference. Their concerns are mostly at the level of civic corporations. Over the past five years, the BVA MP has done nothing to suggest that the party could be a long-term player. Their big contribution was to provide the UPA2 support in the Lok Sabha.
8. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Lalu Prasad formed the party in 1997 and he is still the only reason why it is around. Take him out of it and there is nothing left. The party talks of secularism and social justice but many other players speak of the same things. It has three members in the current Lok Sabha and its survival - even on paper - depends on the 2014 results. His best friend is Ram Vilas Paswan whose own party, the Lok Janshakti Party, has a pointless existence. Lalu was once brilliant. He is now barren.
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Vijay Simha is an independent journalist and sobriety campaigner based out of New Delhi. His most recent journalism assignment was as executive editor with The Financial World, New Delhi, and tehelka.com.
He was a guest on Season 1 of the popular Indian TV show Satyamev Jayate, hosted by Aamir Khan.Vijay blogs here and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.