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

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