OPINION
MAHAGATHBANDAN KI BAAT
It’s less about arithmetic, more about chemistry among leaders
- VIPIN PUBBY
It’s less about arithmetic, more about chemistry among leaders



WITH THE EXPECTED announcement of general elections in a couple of months all the political parties, as well as the government, have now got into election mode. The big question is whether the NDA Government would stage a comeback or whether a group of non-BJP parties trying to form a mahagathbandhan would come to power.

The recent massive rally organised by West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerji in Kolkata sounded the bugle for the mahagatbandhan with 23 political parties, including several regional parties, putting up a show of strength. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders reacted by saying that there were at least eight leaders at the rally who were aspirants for the post of prime minister and claimed that the alliance is unlikely to take off.

While the BJP leaders may be dismissive of the attempts of these political parties to join hands, it is a fact that the way these parties are targeting mainly prime minister Modi, they may be committing the same folly as Modi did by earlier calling for a Congress-mukt Bharat.
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The main thrust of the BJP campaign during and after the 2014 general elections was to wipe out the Congress and it did succeed to a large extent but that very slogan appears to be proving counter productive as the government has little to show as its achievements. 
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The BJP scored one victory after another during the last few years and succeeded in dethroning Congress in almost all states where the party was in power. However, as recent election results show, the party is on a come back trail and the dream of congress-mukt Bharat has come to haunt the BJP. The main thrust of the BJP campaign during and after the 2014 general elections was to wipe out the Congress and it did succeed to a large extent but that very slogan appears to be proving counter productive as the government has little to show as its achievements. 

There is no doubt that there has been a decline in the popularity of the Modi Government, and there are indications of anti incumbency factor, but one can’t just dismiss its prospects in the coming general elections. The members of mahagatbandhan would be committing a big blunder if they think they can benefit only by targeting Modi by calling for a Modi-mukt Bharat.

What they need to do is come out with a minimum common programme listing steps they would take if a non-BJP Government comes to power. An aspiring country and its youth, who now far outnumber middle aged and elderly population, would like to know what the coming government plans to do for generating employment or encouraging industry or strengthening farm economy. 
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Much more than arithmetic and physics, it is the chemistry and understanding among the leaders and alliances that would decide the country’s political fate in the immediate future. 
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Just making promises would also not be accepted by the people. They would like a time-bound credible road map for the country. They would need to be convinced that the opposition leaders are not coming together only to remove Modi or with the sole objective to gain power, but to take the country on to the path of progress.

Also it would not be easy for the mahagatbandhan to tackle internal contradictions besides political ambitions among leaders. For instance it would be difficult for Mamata Banerji’s Trinamool to have an alliance with the Left Parties which are its main rivals in West Bengal.

Similarly Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have already formed an alliance in Uttar Pradesh which excludes Congress. The Congress has announced that it would contest all parliament seats in Uttar Pradesh thereby ensuring a three-cornered contest in the country’s largest state which contributes 80 Members of Parliament. Also the Aam Aadmi Party has decided to go it alone in Delhi and Punjab and has refused any tie up with the Congress.
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Dynastic politics is no longer an issue and ironical if coming from the types of Harsimrat Kaur Badal. 
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While it is true that we have a parliamentary form of government and not presidential form as in the United States of America but we are increasingly tilting towards presidential system as far as elections are concerned. That is why the BJP is harping on Modi versus Rahul Gandhi contest as it knows that one-on-one the Congress president is still no match to the experienced  and vocal Modi.

The entry of Rahul’s sister Priyanka is expected to provide a boost for the members of Congress. Most of those who are cynical about Rahul’s capability, would rather prefer Priyanka but whether it would make a major difference in the elections is the million dollar question. Dynastic politics is no longer an issue and ironical if coming from the types of Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

Voters do speculate about the possible prime minister even though the parties may take the stand that under the parliamentary system the elected representatives are supposed to elect their leader. In a way it is right since the ensuing elections are unlikely to give a clear cut verdict in favour of any particular party and the bargaining power of alliance partners, in both the cases, is expected to decide on the next prime minister.

Therefore the mahagatbandhan shall have to do much more than think that the elections are a game of arithmetic or that the BSP-SP would together poll more votes than the BJP going by the past statistics. Much more than arithmetic and physics, it is the chemistry and understanding among the leaders and alliances that would decide the country’s political fate in the immediate future.
 

 

 

(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.)


 

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