There is virtually no difference at the core. Both the parties hover around the centre on majority of the issues and are solidly conservative on social issues. They only differ in the optics.
This is such a profound question. Often, over incessant election cycles, we don’t realize that we’ve unwittingly entered perpetual campaigning mode. We seldom forget, in democracy, the need of the populace should set party agenda and not the other way around.
In a lot of old democracies clear opinion shifts exist about key issues which define party lines. For example, in the US, party lines are drawn along the issues of gun control, tax policy, healthcare etc.
Let’s just look at few of the recent contentious issues and which sides both the parties took-
GST: Supported by the party in the power, opposed by the other
FDI: Supported by the party in the power,opposed by the other
International nuclear treaties: Supported by the party in the power and opposed by the other
Tax schemes: No difference in policy (rather lack of public policy)
Gay rights: Both have no official position
I could go on, but this should give the gist of what I want to state.
However, each time a new Lok Sabha is elected, the average personal wealth of the MPs increases. Increasing number of millionaires get elected in each cycle, widening the income gap between legislators and their electorate. Whether Congress or BJP gets elected, these trends will remain the same.
Secularism, nationalism and patriotism are not patented by political parties. If we believe a particular party is for one of these issues, we have fallen prey to their propaganda. Congress doesn’t care for the minorities and BJP doesn’t care for the Hindus. But Congress thinks consolidating minority opinion gives them a winning shot and BJP feels the same about Hindus.
Both the parties are solidly establishment with deep ties with business houses. Both parties are, by and large, supported and controlled by elites and their nepotism (Nepotism in Congress is evident because they have it at the helm as well, but at the lower levels it’s really the same). And yet, both the parties claim they are the true saviors of the poor, tribals, farmers etc.
So once we step out of social media, op-eds and rhetoric there is no real difference. We deserve better, but we don’t get it till we demand it.
Mithil Kamble ( Quora )