Tag Archives: mulayam

LEFT : The 12th MAN OF INDIAN POLITICS

By Malladi Rama Rao
To describe the Left parties as the 12th Man of Indian politics may be patently unfair. The role they have played from the days of first coalitions in the Hindi belt to Indira Gandhi period and from the National Front to United Front and to Soni Gandhi’s stewardship of UPA-1, was impressive though their back seat driving was without responsibility. Frankly, the comrades have shown dexterity that is not normally associated with our politicians. Should they be condemned for the feat? Not necessarily because their interventions served the larger national cause even as they knowingly committed historical blunders.

The greatness of Left parties is their collective decision making process. The leaders have their differences and angularities and behind the walls of AK Gopalan Bhavan and Ajoy Bhavan they speak freely; once a decision is taken, everyone falls in line.

Like Jyoti Basu and Harkishan Singh Surjeet did in 1997 when the CPI-M politburo out rightly rejected the offer of Prime Minister’s post to Jyoti Basu.

“With hardly 30 odd MPs, we will be left at the mercy of 270 others who will keep telling us to do their bidding and this situation is untenable”, the politburo decided by majority vote. Jyoti Basu, despite his reservations, and Surjeet despite his larger plans for the Marxist party went along with the party line.

It is tempting to argue that the shape and contours of Left politics could have been different had the Marxists, like the CPI, decided to at least join the Deve Gowda government. The Year 1997 marked the decline of the mainline Left movement; its dreams of growing big have turned into Alnaskar’s dreams with the CPI, CPI-M and their allies in the Left Front reduced to a 3-state wonder.

Yes, this has not reduced their relevance on the national scene. For this credit goes to their ideological purity though they do often appear as Marxist Ayatollahs to the dismay of their sympathisers.

So much so, it is interesting to hear Sitaram Yechury say during Coffee @ UNI that the Left is ready with an alternate practical plan to defeat both the Congress and BJP. While he is right in accusing the two main parties with trying to deflect people’s attention from the real issues – corruption, growing joblessness, and inflation, his confidence that people will this time vote for an alternative set of policies appears neither here nor there.
The allies he is looking for offering the alternative are the usual suspects – the Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal, Telugu Desam, one of the Janata Dal amoebas and either of the two Dravidian Parties.

Since Jayalalithaa Jayaram has developed a rapport with Na Mo, and her occasional friend Subramanian Swamy is firmly in the Saffron Party, the AIADMK will be gravitating towards the BJP. It will make the Left to return to the DMK-fold just as the Congress will have to do business with Muthavel Karunanidhi.

The JD amoeba that can close ranks with the Left is the JD-S of Hardhanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda in Karnataka. But he and his son have entered into a two-election deal with the BJP under which in return for support in the recent Lok Sabha by-election they have agreed to lend a helping hand to the saffronites in 2014 final. BJP knows accords matter little to the Gowdas; more over the former Prime Minister has not given up his own Alnaskar’s dreams. So he will use the forthcoming re-entry of B. S. Yeddyurappa into BJP as a NaMo acolyte to gravitate towards the Left.

Such luck may not be in waiting in so far the Telugu Desam is concerned. The party that came up on self-respect plank is groping for ways to protect the self-respect of its leaders in and outside the Party’s first family circle. Crystal gazing TDP stars is hazardous as of now when we hear that its leaders are still nostalgic of their association with the NDA. One possibility that I can see is a repeat of 1999 when the TDP was the proverbial insider-outsider. Well, that is going to be bad news for the Left, who always count Chandrababu Naidu as a natural Leftist.

The Samajwadi party is the crown jewel for any third front formation. Mulayam Singh’s dreams of unfurling the tri-colour from the ramparts of the Red Fort are public knowledge for a while. Also public knowledge is the orchestrated campaign to undermine his son’s rule as a reign of five and half chief ministers. Not that there is no substance to the criticism against Akhilesh Yadav’s rule. There is but the point is that the flip-side is being blown out of proportions.

Sitaram Yechury, articulating the Left views, appears soft on beleaguered Mulayam. He also appears secure in the knowledge that the old phelwan will have to come to their fold when chips are down. It shows that the comrades are not unduly worried about the match fixing deal that the SP and the BJP have entered into these days.

Most successful coalitions are post-poll alliances. And a non-BJP and non-Congress government is a reality every 10 years. Will history repeat? Much depends on how the BJP puts its act together and how the Congress manages its race. Clearly the going is tough for NaMo and Ra Ga.

It is going to be tougher for Alnaskars in the Third Front even if they want, as Yechury said in his interaction with the UNI editors, “to set our political agenda different from this NaMo-RaGa”. Because there are not enough allies, who have the strength and stamina to lift the numerical spirits, for a pre-poll alliance.

The post-poll scenario brings its own X-factor and may end up as a throwback to either 1997 or 2004. And in such an event, the Left parties will find it difficult to shake off the 12th Man image with or without a Common Minimum Programme (CMP). But it may be good for India as experience of 2004 shows in retrospect. About it next week.

Flip-side of L’affaire NaMo

By Malladi Rama Rao
L’affaire NaMo will continue to hog the headlines for a while. We cannot help it but if anyone thinks that the race for the post of Prime Minister in 2014 is a two-horse race, well, he or she is mistaken. It is, indeed, going to be a three-leg race with Mulayam Singh Yadav determined to realise his dream of at least an overnight stay at 7 Race Course Road in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi. The Third Front and the Saffron Front are willing to help him just as they helped Vishwanath Pratap Singh once in the past by gifting to the nation the politics of National Front.

This is the message that comes loud and clear from the Jat belt which was on fire for the past week in Western Uttar Pradesh. Ajit Singh is the uncrowned king of the area, thanks to the legacy of his father Chaudhry Charan Singh; he has his own dreams of ruling Haritha Pradesh. Naturally the de jure Jat King, and the Congress are upset with the Yadav. And they are walking the extra mile to denounce him as the Modi of UP. What does it convey? It shows that consistency is not the preferred virtue in Indian politics.

In fact, both Ajit Singh and Congress have elevated this virtue to a fine art over the years with their short term games and eagerness to befriend anyone who fits the bill of the day. So much so, to accuse Mulayam and the BJP of match fixing is neither here nor there, more so when secularism that is popped up before the media has come to mean differently to different people at different times.

Yes, what is happening in the BJP is also different, and indeed, something that goes against the tag line – we are a party with a difference. The loser is L K Advani, the person who had built the party as a force to be reckoned with on the national scene. Some may say it is Jana Krishna Murthy curse; some others may say it is Bangaru Laxman’s curse.

For the uninitiated, Jana is a Tambrahm steeped in RSS ideology and he worked with Advani for long years initially in the Jana Sangh and later on in its BJP avatar. He went on to become the BJP president and a Minister in the NDA government. And when the Delhi Durbar was baying for his blood seeing him as an obstacle, he looked to Advani for some support but was cold shouldered. He died a dejected man. The script was different in Laxman’s story but the end result was the same with some contribution from a garrulous Telugu bidda, who had won his BJP spurs through street smart politics.

It is tempting to say that Advani’s fall is because of Jinnah’s curse. Having reinvented the secularism of Pakistan’s founder, he should have stuck to his guns but by yielding to the RSS, he had frittered away two opportunities

One of widening the BJP base beyond Hindutva, which he had invented to bring the party on the centre stage.

Two of helping India and Pakistan to live in happiness glossing over their bitter past.

Some of us expected him to walk the talk since he was the unacknowledged architect of Vajpayee’s Pakistan policy that had paved the way for Agra summit with then Pakistani dictator, Pervez Musharraf. He did not, and allowed himself to be pushed into a corner by the likes of Tagodias and Singhals of the Parivar who cannot look beyond their nose.

Advani’s fall highlights the flip-side of Durbar politics. Anant Kumar Hegde is an acknowledged Advani loyalist. His single minded obsession to become Chief Minister had received ample support from Advani and this had led to the rout of the party in Karnataka. Yet, he is among the first to desert his mentor and has since become the cheerleader of NaMo. So is Venkaiah Naidu.

The Telugu and Kannada biddas may have valid reasons for their change of heart. It is also possible that both, like the Bihar Modi (Sushil Kumar Modi), believe that Advani is a yesterday man. But both know that Advani is, in the words of a Left commentator, an old fox. You cannot deny him the basic understanding of the Indian voter. It is this ability that gives some validity to his objections to the coronation of NaMo as BJP’s crown prince.

Vasundhara Rajae, who hopes to stage a comeback in Rajasthan’s power corridor, shares his concerns. And did not allow NaMo to hog the limelight at the recent Jaipur rally though he was billed as the star attraction, and, in fact, the rally was part of his nation-wide hops. She ensured that the rally’s focus was fixed on her alone. Vasundhara is the BJP satrap of Rajasthan, and like in good old Moghul days, the satrap, while paying obeisance to Delhi, doesn’t like interference in day-to-day business.

L’affaire NaMo will remain a classic case study in remote control politics. Also in inner party democracy. The Communist parties are known to allow wide ranging debates on issues but these mostly remain behind the red curtain.

The Congress has become one person party over the past forty years; as successive AICC sessions showed, debate has few takers in the Grand Old Party and everyone is content with the theme of the day from 10 Janpath that is delivered by the party managers. Yes, the party stages shows of internal dissent for a limited purpose for a limited time, like the protests staged by Telangana MPs first and the Seema Andhra MPs later on the floor of Parliament. Practitioners of these Congress shows and their audience know the limitations of the visual treat.

The BJP is no different despite its claims to hold regular party elections and regular meetings of its executive. The 24×7 television to a large extent and L K Advani to certain extent, have changed the rules of the game in a manner of speaking.