Game of Numbers ahead

By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal. Dated: 5/12/2019 12:27:01 PM

MARGINALIA

Signs of desperation are visible in the BJP camp. Midway the election campaign, a visibly shaken Narendra Modi has turned the election campaign into a referendum against Rajiv Gandhi; and in this obsession committed himself to peddling lies or mouthing platitudes. It appears even the three major weapons in his arsenal - Terrorism, Pakistan and Army's valour have not come to his rescue. He's turned his guns towards the 'greater enemy of the nation' - Nehru-Gandhi parivar.
In Delhi, typical pugmarks of the saffron are noticeable in the disgustingly sexist and casteist pamphlets, casting aspersions on the character of Aam Aadmi Party candidate Atishi and her senior colleague Manish Sisodia, that have surfaced. In Ladakh two senior BJP leaders were caught giving cash to journalists who, visibly angry, literally threw it on their face.
While the united opposition is apprehensive that a desperate BJP may look towards tampering EVMs as a last resort, the BJP has completely lost the plot. If these signs are not an indication enough of BJP's fears of a prospective defeat, doubts have been put to rest by the open admission of its sagging fortunes. In an interview, Ram Madhav admitted that the BJP may have to cobble up an alliance after the election as "the party will fall short of winning an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha". He is the first BJP leader to acknowledging that Modi balloon has been deflated and that the BJP is nowhere near the strong position it was boasting about.
If there were any doubts, it is now straight from the horse's mouth - BJP is in a tight spot. It is now pretty evident that the country is headed for a hung parliament. This is not bad news in a democratic country specially after an onslaught of five-year long brute majority of one party that has not only miserably failed to deliver but also, in its obsession for exercising authority, has damaged all democratic institutions and sharpened communal and caste divisions in a somewhat irreparable way. Coalition politics in India have yet to evolve in terms of maturity and art of negotiation but a country as diverse as India is best suited for such a model of governance that meets the aspirations of as many diverse groups and socio-economic and religious categories as possible. In what looks like a tough nation-wide contest, no party is likely to achieve a clear majority and the way forward would be stitching up alliances. BJP has begun the hunt for possible friends in politics, though the task is uphill in view of the many foes it has made of friends in its bout of arrogance; and Congress is already hooked on to the mahagathbandhan - a conglomeration of several regional players - though its tendency to sustain alliances has not always been of exceptional quality.
Though a clearer picture will emerge on May 23 when the verdict is out, the mahagathbandhan has a decisive edge due to several reasons. It has fought the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in alliance with some of its prospective partners and with others, it has had some preliminary understanding. Political alliances in this country are never too holy but as of now, the chances of BJP attracting the allies for the requisite majority appear less likely. Fence-sitters entering the Lok Sabha, however, are difficult to predict. If BJP does not go beyond the 200 mark, it is less likely to woo traditional or new allies. If it manages to cross the 200 mark comfortably, its prospects at garnering the requisite number might be better. The moot question, however, would then be - Who will lead a BJP led pack? Modi is the most less likely choice. Many allies would see red in his name. Besides, given his personality and style of functioning, Modi is incapable of working as part of a team even in the leading capacity. His ability to control all powers in his hand, persecute and destroy anybody within his team he finds capable of challenging his might in the last five years is all too familiar. This style of functioning is at odds with the mantra of coalition politics.
Congress is far better at managing such a government formation, though the arrogance structured in its DNA and its poor organizational skills could easily make the ride a bumpy one. Signs of this have been apparent throughout the electioneering process. The party's partial alliance with the SP-BSP in Uttar Pradesh may or may not mar the prospects of a united opposition but its inability to stitch up an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party will cost them too dear in Delhi and Haryana.
Besides, ambitious voices among regional powers hopeful of major successes in the verdict are likely to demand their pound of flesh once the exercise of arriving at the perfect mathematical figure begins. It appears that the days following May 23 would be interesting with respect to how the game of power will be negotiated. Who will be in the lead and how the motley of coalition partners could be hinged together to a common minimum agenda? That exercise should have already begun. Whether or not the back-channels are already at work or not, the optics suggest a complete lack of acknowledgement for the need to arrive at a common understanding on the structure and purpose of the possible coalition of Congress and other allies. The previous Congress led UPA could successfully manage to complete two terms but are there lessons to be learnt from the failures of that coalition government that left the vacuum to give power to RSS-backed Modi on a platter in 2014?
2019, however, may spring some minimal hopes.

 

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