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Coalition ahead?

Coalition ahead?

Ahead of May 23, predictions are popping up about the potential successor to Raisina Hills. Prior to elections, the Modi-led NDA government had been strongly touted for a successive term. While the critics had their arguments clearly not in favour, BJP's cry for national security gave them the boost they desperately needed, especially after losing three state assemblies in the Hindi belt and drawing abject criticism for their faulty governance plagued with demonetisation and hate crimes. Cornered over the controversial sub-judice Rafale deal and mishandling of government institutions, BJP's run up to the Lok Sabha elections was certainly not desirable. Poking nationalism within masses through audacious oratory made the BJP supremo use the army and surgical strikes to extract electoral mileage but opposition parties did not sit out the campaigning extravaganza as Congress led the charge to expose Modi and BJP's failed governance. Overall, BJP had to draw out exigency plans to accomplish a desirable campaign session which saw numerous MCC flouts in contentious speeches made to garner votes. As if Pragya Singh Thakur's candidature was not controversial enough, BJP found itself in ugly conflict during campaigning for the final phase in Bengal. Even if MCC flouts are discounted, though they remain utterly serious in nature irrespective of EC's clean chit to Modi-Shah, the ugly spat only makes the incumbent's insecurities clearer. Despite the national security rhetoric, Congress and other regional parties have definitely forced BJP to break a sweat. And, then came the six phases of general elections which saw faulty EVMs, alleged rigging, influencers forcing re-election, defamation attempts, vote selling and ugly spats between politicos. All that in progress to decide who will form the next government. BJP brought in a change in governments when it garnered a majority in 2014 Lok Sabha polls and became the single largest party capable of forming the government. Their confidence exceeded expectations and in their attempt to write off opposition ploys to stitch alliances, it termed the grand coalition (mahagatbandhan) a "mahamilawat". BJP pursued a strange narrative of apprising masses of how a coalition government would turn up to be a weak government against BJP's majority government. To elucidate BJP's anti-coalition stance, it is necessary to understand Modi's tenure. Demonetisation single-handedly remains the biggest instance of a majority government undertaking a drastic step in the nation's 'interest'. Not only did demonetisation failed as an anti-graft exercise but impacted jobs and economy in general with small traders being extinguished. The decision of demonetisation was clearly an unobjectionable one since a single-party government need not consider others. Had it been a coalition government, such a decision would have faced avid criticism before being implemented, if at all. Presence of other parties in the fray, therefore, seems considerably impactful during such circumstances. But in their defence, the saffron party can argue that it is their single-party government which has the audacity to undertake such steps (irrespective of consequences). The instability that some previous coalition governments have portrayed strengthens their support. All this hostility against the idea of a coalition has been the general BJP mood but their straight faces do not recall the fact that they were part of the previous coalition governments, particularly V. P. Singh-led National Front in 1989 and the Morarji Desai-led Janata Party government in 1977. So the Modi-Shah criticism of opposition's coalition steps reeks of hypocrisy.

May 23 poses several outcomes for our country. A BJP majority, like in 2014, would mean that the country reflected BJP's stance of single-party governance. Congress's 150-160 seats would mean a potential Congress-led alliance government. However, should Parliament be hung due to equal stake between BJP and Congress, it is the regional parties that will be instrumental in forming the government, which would definitely be coalition-styled. The coalition government, in this scenario, is what the country needs since it brings to the table a degree of diversity and plurality. There are arguments that coalitions are associated with periods of greater economic growth, less economic volatility and more foreign investment; Manmohan Singh's UPA-I is a case in point. Beyond diversity and plurality which is essentially good for democracy comes the concern of regional plurality. Parties such as DMK, TDP, TRS, NCP, SP-BSP, TMC, et al, coming from the corners of such a vast country in a coalition government will only increase the representation of Indian states. The country has not particularly faced a turbulent coalition government, at least not without other factors contributing to the chaos. In such a case, the coalition government might just augur well for the country since we saw what a single-party government can do in the five years.

Editorial

Editorial

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