OPINION
NaMo vs RaGa : Chances better for a third alternative or a dark horse
- VIPIN PUBBY
NaMo vs RaGa : Chances better for a third alternative or a dark horse



LARGE SECTIONS of media have been talking about the ensuing elections as a Modi versus Rahul contest. This Namo versus Raga question is also often asked during social interactions and even from total strangers.

The speculations are there despite the fact that we have a parliamentary system of government and not the presidential system as in the US. There is no ambiguity in that country about the identity of the two top contestants for the highest post of the country. In India, despite our constitutional system, we appear to be moving towards personality led political parties and some curiosity is bound to be there about who would led the country.

However that may not always be the case. After all was Dr Manmohan Singh ever projected as the PM candidate in 2004? He went on to remain at the post for 10 years. Or was PV Narasimha Rao ever projected as the prime minister? Or whether Deve Gouda, IK Gujral and some others ever in the run for prime ministership?

BJP and its supporters would certainly like to project the election as a contest between Modi and Rahul. There is no doubt that Modi is an effective speaker and better communicator than Rahul and in the battle of perception between the two, Rahul is no match to Modi despite the recent aggressive strides by Rahul who has even challenged the prime minister for public debate on various issues.

But given the current political scenario and the political equations in the making, there are more chances of neither Modi nor Rahul making to the post of prime minister after these elections. This may sound radical but can be explained with some logic.

Modi remained chief minister of Gujarat thrice and enjoyed absolutely majority in the Assembly. He ruled with an iron hand and did not have to depend on other senior leaders in the party or alliance partners for survival. Similarly he led the alliance to an absolute majority during the 2014 lok sabha elections. Again he didn’t need to depend on any outside ally or a section of party leaders.

Thus his entire track record shows that he had been working in an environment where he enjoyed absolute power. Some of his allies like the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal are not quite happy with his style of functioning but have little choice as he in any case enjoys majority.
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Emergence of a powerful regional leader with the support of some other regional parties can not be ruled out given the current fluid political situation. 
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In the current scenario it is being widely believed that the absolute majority being enjoyed by the BJP may not be possible in the ensuing elections. This would mean that NDA allies are likely to have more bargaining power and may like a leader who listens to them and is more flexible with their demands. 

It is also well known that a section of senior leaders of the BJP, and possibly the RSS, were not happy with Modi’s appointment as the prime minister in the first place and may exert pressure from within for a change in leadership if the BJP does not come back with an absolute majority.

Similarly the possibility of Rahul making it to the top post appears remote at this juncture. He stands a chance only if the Congress attains an absolute majority which, at this stage, appears highly unlikely. The entry of his charismatic sister Priyanka Gandhi has added another dimension to the issue.

Congress alliance partners, and even the third front leaders of their support is required after the election, may not support Rahul Gandhi’s candidature and may instead back some other consensus candidate.

Much would depend on the bargaining power they have based on the number of MPs they can get elected to the Lok Sabha. 

Emergence of a powerful regional leader with the support of some other regional parties can not be ruled out given the current fluid political situation. What we can look forward to now is a hard fought election in the offing.
 
 

 

 

(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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