Short -Term Games Political Parties Play

By Malladi Rama Rao
Funny it may sound but the reality is that even before the talk about a new third front takes concrete shape, soothsayers are out in number to pronounce its death. Every analyst is blaming Karunanidhi and Mulayam Singh that in their sunset years both are allowing their sons to dictate the destiny of their parties.

There is an element of truth in the criticism but it doesn’t answer the basic question: who started the guessing game to begin with. You may not like DMK supremo, whose forte has always been to be on the side of ruling party in Delhi – right from Indira Gandhi’s days. As the BJP yesterday and the Congress today knows, the film script- writer turned politician has been the least troublesome ally.

If the Congress finds itself on the wrong side of Karunanidhi, it has to blame itself. The GOP in its excessive exuberance with Geneva gymnastics has forgotten the Raj Dharma of coalition politics which inter alia means taking the DMK on board the strategies for Geneva right from the word go.

Consultations with DMK chief, when he had already made up his mind to go his own way is not the way to respect the sentiments and concerns of a senior ally. More so when he had taken great political risk and went along with Delhi on the final phase of Vanni war that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had waged.

India was aware that the Rajapaksa war was the most ruthless and brutal campaign. And the way men and women and children in hospitals and camps in the so called no fire zones were killed often without a warning shot. Quibbling over how to describe such a targeted killing shows a mindset that does no credit to the democratic ethos of this country.

The war footage that has been surfacing with unfailing regularity these past four years clearly establishes the gruesome nature of the campaign carried out by President Rajapaksa. He is now unwilling to yield an inch of power politics to the Tamils in his country. Historically speaking, all Tamils are not a British import into the island for indentured labour. They trace their roots to 2nd century BC and the North and Eastern regions have always been Tamil turf.

The point is the Congress is to blame itself for the DMK going its own way. The crowning glory of the saga is, of course, the CBI raid on the houses of the son and grandson of Karunanidhi, which as one gathers, had the full knowledge of the powers that be.

Both Mulayam Singh and Mayawati are hunted by CBI, though they have been the crutches on which the Manmohan sarkar survives. This is either rank foolishness or absolute arrogance of power. Also terming them as unpredictable allies, and courting a Nitish Kumar in full public view.

Such acts are inevitable when the government, which swears by ‘aam aadmi’, allows itself to be guided and led by bureaucrats for whom with honourable exceptions, increments, promotions and post-retirement rehabilitation alone matter. Probably in no dispensation since independence have the bureaucrats have such an upper hand as in the UPA –I and II.

Nitish has no reason to go with the Congress in Bihar. With just 8.38 per cent share of popular vote, which is spread across the state, the Congress is no asset even to Lalu Prasad Yadav. The RJD leader had famously said once in the not too distant past that leaving a seat in Bihar to the Congress was as good as losing it.

Yes, Nitish can accept a deal with the Congress provided it is modelled on TN pattern – Congress leaving the field open to him in the assembly in return for a major share in the Lok Sabha seats. Such deal will mean acknowledging that Rahul Gandhi has failed in his mission in Bihar and by extension in UP as well.

The Congress ideologues like Digvijay Singh may not like such route for power nirvana on the Raisina Hill. They had criticised PV Narasimha Rao when he tried to follow Indira-MGR model of seat sharing in UP with Kanshiram’s BSP. Rahul Gandhi has often echoed the same view.

Sharad Pawar, whatever be his other failings, saw merit in the PV plan at the end of 1994 and worked closely with him to give shape to Cong-BSP alliance. In the decade plus since then, PV has been proved right as the Congress fortunes have refused to look up in Uttar Pradesh that sends the largest number of lawmakers to Parliament.

Today, Pawar is in a wait and watch mode, like Mulayam Singh Yadav. Neither is playing brinkmanship politics as Delhi’s rootless wonders think. Mulayam’s praise of LK Advani or his senior colleague Ram Gopal Yadav’s comment that corruption was less in NDA regime fall into the emerging pattern that blurs lines between the so called secular and the saffron camps. The Congress has reasons therefore to go into an overdrive to protect its power turf.

The unfolding campaign depicts the non-Congress parties and their leaders as small time players, who cannot be expected to pursue policies that look beyond their vested interest. And support to them is depicted as sure invitation to the forces of disintegration. In so many words the message is that the nation is safe if it is with the Congress hand.

Surely it goes against the wisdom of the people of the country, who have elected Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, Navin Patnaik in Odisha, Nitish Kumar in Bihar, Akilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh, Omar Farooq in Jammu and Kashmir, and Jayalalithaa in Tamilnadu. BJP has reasons to be upset with the way its regional satraps – Narendra Modi and Shivraj Singh Chouhan including, are projected as leaders with a narrow vision and with an agenda that expects national interests to be subservient to the regional interests.

Will such a campaign pay dividends? Well, panic reaction is no substitute for good politics both in the short and near terms.

(This commentary first appeared in The Hans India, English daily from Hyderabad on Mar 30, 2013)

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