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With growing discourse in the country about various issues, ‘centrists’ have often come under fire, for choosing to take not so extreme positions on a certain matter. Is the anger justified?

A few days back, I opened Twitter to see a tweet from a very close friend which said: “I hate centrists lmao they’re just closeted sanghis.” I thought to myself that this opinion must be coming from a negative personal experience, except the replies to the tweet were more or less similar, and over the next few days, I came across many such expressions from different people. Naturally, as someone who believes he is a centrist, I was taken aback.

No, I wasn’t a sanghi (a term used to refer to people who belong to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or more casually thrown around to refer to people who support the BJP). However, the political scenario of the country has changed so drastically of late that you’re either a ‘bhakt’ or a ‘commie’, a polarisation that is incredibly problematic and has essentially drowned out centrist voices-people who agree (or disagree) with the right and the left equally.

This trivialisation of the centre in today’s discourse is something that needs to be addressed, especially considering how it has been crucial to India’s existence (till 2014) and how it is the need of the hour at the moment. In India, there is an increasing need for a strong political centre (the Congress, for all its claims of being centrist, is simply not a political alternative at the moment) because of the very simple reason that centrism is the most important quality of India’s politics.

Centrism aims at ensuring harmony in India’s diversity instead of making its contradictions prominent, it provides a broader space for dissent and ensures the welfare of the people in every sense. In other words, centrism aims to fix exactly those problems that are visible in the country today-pitting of our differences against each other and a rampant curbing of any and all forms of dissent.

But how can we not take extreme sides in a nation where politics has already been made into a binary? The answer to that is that it might not be a left vs right battle as it’s made to look like. At the end of the day, an average Hindu is not a bigot as the left would like you to believe, and the average Muslim is not someone looking to establish their own state, as the right would want you to believe. They’re common people who want to get by in their daily lives.

This is a concept called the ‘Exhausted Majority’ that The Hidden Tribes report talks about too. It is a term used to describe how people eventually tire of a long period of polarisation. India has seen a battle between extremes for far too long, and eventually, people will demand a moderate government.

That is one major reason behind the Aam Aadmi Party’s recent success in Delhi because they’ve chosen to focus on core issues that affect the Aam Aadmi (common man) like electricity, water supply, education instead of polarisation, which the BJP and Congress have chosen to do.

But if the right is clearly so bad, then why don’t we counter right-wing extremism with the left-wing? The answer to that is simple, extremes, in general, are bad. the left’s proven to be ineffective far too many times and has been losing support in India too, with Kerala being the only state where the Communist Party of India remains in power. More importantly, the Left does not appeal to the common Indian man, who wants poverty alleviation but also development, something the left cannot provide.

The answer to this country’s problems lies in a moderate way of politics, as non-appealing as it may sound to the intellectuals of today. There is a need to look beyond one’s privileged position and explore the ground realities in order to realise the same.

Picture Credits: Amatopia

Khush Vardhan Dembla

[email protected]

As many students finish their first semester in Delhi University (DU), the country is faced with a major political crisis which has divided India. At this time, should you join a student political party?

DU is an extremely political campus, with all colleges having some or the other form of student representation, with a wider Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) which represents students from most of the DU colleges. Some of the major student political parties present in DU are the Right wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which is affiliated to the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), which is affiliated to Congress, All India Students Association (AISA) which is associated with Communist Party of India ( Marxist-Leninist) ( CPI-ML), and Students’ Federation of India which is associated with Communist Party of India (Marxist) ( CPI-M).

Many first years would have been told when they joined DU to stay away from politics by their parents, fearing the incidents of violence which come to play in DU politics. The political crisis in the country started by the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which many opposed due to its openly islamophobic and communal nature and came out on the streets to protest against it. On the other side, groups have come out in support of this act.

Before joining a political party in a spur of the moment decision, one must try to consider what the party stands for. Joining a party just because you want to express dissent or because those around you are joining is not the right option, while these parties might give you the space to dissent and information about protests, it is important to know the ideologies that the party that you want to join, stands for. This can easily be done by reading the manifesto of the party.

Most parties can be easily joined by filling out a form on their website or by looking for their representatives on campus. If you do decide to join one, remember that you get to choose your level of participation. Being in parties will also open you up to learning more about the idealogies and the people behind them. Do not be discouraged by those telling you not to join, if you believe it is the the way to express yourself politically, then these organizations are the best way to go for it.

Feature Image credits: Noihirit Gogoi for DU Beat

Prabhanu Kumar Das

[email protected]