This appeared in today’s edition of the Pioneer. Comments and criticism welcome as always.
Power at any cost
The â€˜Third Frontâ€™ is driven by lust for office
The frenzied shindigs surrounding the battle fortifications bring both amusement and concern at the eve of every election especially after the demise of single-party dominance in Indian politics. Promises and oaths of loyalty evaporate as soon as the results are out. Without exception, most parties are loyal only to power.
This election isnâ€™t any different. Only, the formation has ridiculously altered with the â€˜emergenceâ€™ of the Third Front.
The general political atmosphere smells of confusion bordering on chaos. The reason lies owes to the arrant unpredictability of the outcome of elections. Which makes the post-results analyses rather funny to read. Just when the NDA was sure it had the 2004 polls in its hands, it received the rudest shock from which it is yet to recover. This shock led to the inertia that currently characterises the BJP, which is trying to grapple with a decent poll strategy.
But the problems of the Congress are entirely self-inflicted. With its historical penchant for trampling everyone in its path once it assumes power, it has acted entirely according to the script since 2004. It has comprehensively squandered the bounteous economic legacy the NDA had bequeathed it, injected liberal doses of communal poison, lowered Indiaâ€™s image in the international community, overtly pandered to the Muslim vote-bank, manipulated the media, splintered the society again via the spurious â€˜social justiceâ€™ reservation scheme, dozed while terrorists ravaged India regularly, and in general, lost the confidence of citizens. It further dirtied its slate by brazening out the Navin Chawla episode when its rubber stamp in the Rashtrapati Bhavan â€˜legitimisedâ€™ yet another act of vandalising the Constitution.
Other UPA constituents like the RJD, the LJP and the DMK face similar problems of loss of peopleâ€™s confidence.
The Third Front, posing as an alternative to both the Congress and the BJP, has already begun to niggle internally. Any outfit that has Mr HD Deve Gowda in it is doomed even before it begins. To compound the folly, this motley assemblage also includes the quirky J Jayalalithaa. A singular absence of a plan that spells out a vision for how it intends to better India characterises the Third Front. Their existential raison dâ€™Ãªtre is a cryptic mix of jaded ideology and a vague notion that they are the messiahs of the downtrodden. There is a simpler reason: A pathological hatred of the BJP and Congress unites them.
For what itâ€™s worth, the Third Frontâ€™s current avatar is a coalition of losers. Everybody except Mr Deve Gowda is a contender for prime ministerial berth. It is also a coalition of individual leaders not as much parties. Take away a Mayawati or a Deve Gowda or Jayalalithaa, and their individual outfits will thaw in no time. These have held the BJP or the Congress in their sway in the past, blackmailed them, or have generally been nuisances. But the sum of their real achievements in national politics remains zero. Their earlier avatar as the United Front degraded the Prime Ministerâ€™s position to a game of musical chairs. Now with the addition of the Left parties, the Third Front is appropriately the coalition of disgruntled losers who have nothing to offer to Indiaâ€™s progress.
The BJPâ€™s only chance at securing a sizeable number this time lies in a smart manifesto and confidence-building measures among the voters. More urgently, the BJP should debunk the deeply-flawed theory that â€˜coalition Governments are inevitable.â€™ Being inevitable doesnâ€™t mean it is good. The germination and growth of coalition Governments lies in the Congressâ€™s split and rule politics. Reduced to an ugly rubble, this party intends to survive in power at any cost. Like a parasite, it eats the host it inhabits. The Left should know this much better than anyone else in recent times.
A sensible way for the BJP to combat this is to go alone. It should stand on its own strengths, taking a cue from its recent electoral successes at the State level. Admittedly, the challenges are different and more powerful but this was the party with just two seats in the 1984 Lok Sabha.