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Modi Vs All: DREAM OR REALITY?, By Dr S.Saraswathi, 15 November 2018 Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 15 November 2018

Modi Vs All


By Dr S.Saraswathi

(Former Director, ICSSR, New Delhi)


Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu after discussions with some senior Congress leaders has declared that the time is ripe for anti-BJP forces to come together under the aegis of the Congress. The resourceful leader and Rahul Gandhi jointly announced that they would work along with other Opposition parties with the primary aim of defeating Narendra Modi-led BJP government. It was declared an alliance to defend democracy, institutions, and the future of the country.


Looks like a case of total political conversion of Chandrababu Naidu necessary to dethrone Modi! His anger against the Congress for unscientific bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh seems to be less than his grouse with the BJP for denial of Special Status for AP. By refreshing friendship with the Congress, which he left in 1984 to join the newly formed anti-Congress party, the TDP, he has now ruled out the possibility of his rival YSR Congress and the Congress coming together. Two mangoes in one stroke!


The leader has announced a plan of holding a big conclave in New Delhi and is meeting individually leaders of many regional parties to get support for anti-BJP alliance with the Congress on board. While the Congress party is deemed to be the main opponent to the BJP in Lok Sabha election, he thinks that there are many capable leaders in the Front – a point that has to be left untouched if alliance is not to remain a dream, but become a reality.


Ever since the formation of JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka, hopes of preventing the BJP from forming the next government at the Centre is brightened among some regional parties besides the Congress. It is a hope somewhat different from and comparatively easier than convincingly winning the election or defeating the BJP straightaway. It is a hope arising out of readiness of the Congress to take a subordinate place to another party even if it is smaller than its flock.


Anti-BJP alliance is a dream of party leaders and not their cadres. It is so openly “anti” in its focus that the scramble for seats and positions of power will become secondary to the players.  Another term for the BJP is a nightmare dreaded by some individual leaders so much that they try to stop it by hook or by crook.


Chandrababu Naidu is taking a leading role on his own initiative in this political adventure and travelling from State to State meeting regional leaders to build support, which seems to be coming and going. The task is not easy. It involves bringing together local rivals and leaders of different persuasions and varied ambitions. Fence sitters watching out for best opportunity for their own future, have to be roped in for a common cause, though negative.


He has already held wide consultations with principal regional parties – the SP, NCP, RLD, CPM, and the NC. He keeps in touch with the leader of TMC, who took keen interest in such an alliance, and with AAP ever ready to fight the BJP.


DMK President Stalin welcomed the meeting between the Congress and TDP Presidents and agreed that all Opposition parties should come together to defeat BJP. His main contention is that the BJP is trying to usurp States’ rights, and therefore, all regional parties must unite against the BJP.  Significantly, his stand can be maintained both by pointed anti-Modi alliance as well as by a non-Congress, non-BJP Third Front.


A meeting of Opposition leaders is to take place shortly. TDP is aiming at benefits from strengthening itself in AP and Telangana and to acquire a major role in forming and running the government at the Centre. If alliance survives, Chandrababu Naidu’s influence in Indian politics will increase enormously.


TDP leader’s venture became vigorous after it became clear that the attempt of TRS chief K.Chandrashekar Rao to forge a Third Front became a non-starter after some initial meetings  with Mamata Bannerji, and the utter failure of the Congress-BSP to unite in the current series of Assembly poll.


Defeating BJP by a coalition of regional parties without a national party like the Congress however, weak, is neither feasible nor desirable in the interest of the nation. “Without a national party, you cannot form a government at the Centre”, Naidu said as a strategic election planner.   Joining with a party at the national level, while fighting it locally, is justified as a democratic compulsion. Indeed, “save democracy” – a slogan adopted long time ago by the alliance formed against the Congress (R) – is resurrected to give legitimacy to a coalition of rivals.


For, barely a month ago, leaders of the BSP and the Janata Congress -- Mayawati and Ajit Jogi -- announced their decision to fight together Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly election, thus putting a break to anti-BJP alliance under the Congress. It was a sudden and straight blow to the State Congress President, who personally met Mayawati a few days earlier to stitch an anti-BJP alliance. BSP decided to go alone in Madhya Pradesh Assembly poll -- a decision which is interpreted in some Congress circles as one taken under the influence of the BJP. If this is true, we can conclude that anti-Modi alliance is a dream and not reality.


In fact, the BSP is a significant force in three States -- Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. The party, quite aware of this is wanting to go alone, which perhaps would enhance its importance. In real politics, it will help fix its price for being an ally.


The Congress, TDP, and the CPI held discussions regarding alliance to fight Telangana Asembly polls. It further confirms that alliances are State-specific. An arrangement made in one State does not automatically apply to another State or to Parliament.


Six left parties -- the CPI, CPM, CPI (ML), RSP, Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), Communist Ghadar Party are unhappy over the unilateral announcement of bandh by the Congress without allowing inter-party or intra-party deliberations. Electoral alliance has a limited object of fighting the election.


The performance of the Congress in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan is very important for the party to take even the attempt of Naidu to bring in one fold several anti-BJP parties as a serious proposition worth accepting. As such, unlike the regional parties, Congress has to take any election as a test for its capability if not to bounce back to power as the majority or even the largest party, but as a party capable of leading a coalition and as a acceptable partner to all the constituent units.


Thus, anti-Modi pre-election coalition presently has left the post of leader vacant. The leader who will be Prime Minister if the coalition wins can and should be chosen by elected members.  But, people identify a party or a group by the leader.


Going back to the second half of 1980s and 1990s, we can find that Indian democracy has the experience of facing a democratic challenge which throws up many moral and political puzzles.   The anti-Modi pre-election alliance initiated by Chandrababu Naidu has to be viewed keeping in mind his fast rising political career.---INFA


(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

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