Nothing but the truth
Political circles are agog with speculation that early elections to the Lok Sabha may be round the corner. Repeated adjournments of Parliament over the Coalgate issue have resulted in virtual wash out of the monsoon session. The Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] is adamant on its demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and equally resistant is the United Progressive Alliance [UPA] in conceding to the main opposition party’s demand. BJP leaders hope that the inability of the government to function will lead to a mid-term poll and the party would, thereby, be the gainer. But an early poll seems unlikely as long as the UPA commands majority in Parliament.
The BJP’s objective apparently is to destroy the creditability of the prime minister. After all, Singh’s integrity was the Congress party’s biggest triumph card in the 2009 elections. By making the prime minister, the BJP believes, the target of the coal scam, it may turn the middle-class mascot into an electoral liability ahead of 2014.
In spite of the BJP’s all out efforts to dent the image of Singh, he remains spotless and his clean image will continue to be an asset to the UPA when it goes to polls in 2014 or earlier. The last time the BJP came anywhere near garnering for itself a semblance of national mandate was in 1999, when it had Atal Behari Vajpayee as its prime ministerial candidate and had a Kargil victory behind its back. It is a tragedy indeed that the BJP’s leadership remains so disinterested in remembering why it was voted to power twice, first in1998 and again in1999. The party leadership should also think over why it was voted out of power in 2004, and again, why its claim to national mantle was spurned by the Indian people in 2009, even as it projected L K Advani as its prime ministerial candidate.
The BJP’s stubbornness not to understand the reasons for the 2004 rejection made the party interrupt session after session and forcing total disruption of the last monsoon session in the hope that this will lead to a mid-term poll. But they conveniently forget that the UPA has its own majority, barring those who support the government from outside. Presuming that Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party opts for an early election, Mayawati will support UPA with renewed vigour. An election now will be the last resort for the Bahujan Samaj Party [BSP].
Those desirous of a mid-term include Mulayam Singh, Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee. They feel that their credibility is still high with the voters and an election now may help them sweep the polls. The situation may not be so conducive in 2014. But till the UPA’s majority is intact in Parliament, there is remote possibility of an early election, disruption of session after session by the BJP notwithstanding.
In 1998, the BJP was given a chance because the polity was desperately in need for a political formation that could be a reliable alternative to the Congress and other third front conglomerations, and which could answer governing order in New Delhi. India had enough of the V P Singhs, the Chandra Shekhars, the Deve Gowdas and I K Gujrals. It was time for national sobriety, political responsibility and institutional composure.
Vajpayee was himself a product of the Jan Sangh school of narrow nationalism and even narrower politics. He presciently gauged the requirements of a changed country in a globalised economy. He understood clearly that the new India was not interested in sorting out medieval animosities so central to the Sangh Parivar’s ideology.
In spite of all the rhetoric of desh bhakti, he realised that the primary task of governance was social harmony, economic growth and peace with Pakistan. As through his six years as the prime minister, Vajpayee realised he had to slug it out with Jan Sanghi mindset in his own backyard and Advani’s prime ministerial ambition.
While he could largely put Advani in his place, he eventually lost the battle in Gujarat. He had to be voted out because he failed to convince the majority that he could not be trusted to safeguard minorities and social harmony.
Presently, the BJP is overcrowded with prime ministerial aspirants. But these aspirants have yet to imbibe that those who seek to rule the nation have to demonstrate their stamina for prudence. The country will not be too keen to entrust the central government to those who talk of mota mal or dismiss Hamid Ansari as lacking the ‘stature’ to be the nation’s president.
Surprisingly, even after eight years, the BJP has not learnt any lesson as to why it has been rejected twice by the people. Because of the inability to draw appropriate lessons from their 1999 victory and from their 2004 and 2009 defeats, the BJP leaders have once again dragged themselves in a situation of over-excitement and political overreach, conveniently forgetting that they may once more be inviting staunch rebuff from the alert voters.
All the propaganda of a mid-term poll, therefore, is a wishful thinking of the BJP leaders, and those of the likes of Jayalalithaa, Mulayam Singh and Mamata Banerjee, who seek to benefit from an early poll.
Singh’s government is all set to complete its full five-year term. [IPA]