Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati announced an alliance with Ajit Jogi, supremo of Janat Congress Chattisgarh (JCC) for the forthcoming assembly polls last Friday. She also announced the latter as chief ministerial candidate which made many voice apprehensions about the anti BJP front with a single point agenda of removing the BJP from power at the Centre. BJP leaders laughed for days and talked about the premature death of the much talked about alliance.
Mayawati snubbing the Congress for getting additional seats, as the alliance finalized 35 seats to the BSP and 55 to JCC, did betray the elastic commitments of the regional and caste based parties, who are willing to settle for petty personal gains, with a small political canvas. The games of these parties are known: to get maximum number of seats so that they can try for a notable presence in the state legislatures and Lok Sabha ensuring bargaining for ministerial berths and positions in PSUs and autonomous bodies.
Regional satraps are known for their tough bargaining. Even for short term and small gains they are keen. Long term opportunities and potential, ideological clarity, purity and commitment they sacrifice or ignore in the process. Shifting loyalties and breaking alliances are part of their style of functioning with power remaining the main objective. Policies, programmes, principles, ideology and enduring alliances have never been part their strong points.
One should look at BSP’s alliance with JCC in this context and background. What is more, the alliances planned by various non-BJP political parties are not a national alliance but state specific understandings with the aim of defeating the BJP at the national level. In the case of Chhattisgarh it is an alliance to fight the forthcoming state assembly elections in which BSP feels that an alliance with JCC can give a better fight to defeat the BJP. That the two parties have scores to settle with the Congress in the state is another reason.
But Mayawati announcing an alliance with the JCC was in fact a message to the Congress. Being a clever politician, Mayawati is keen to expand the party’s base and reach to other states. Had Congress accepted her demands, reasonable or otherwise, for seats in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan she would not have struck a deal with JCC unilaterally. But there is enough time to make up as assembly election schedules are yet to be announced and seat adjustments at the last minute are common.
No one took her ambitions seriously and felt that she can be confined to Uttar Pradesh. Congress has expressed willingness to give seats in her areas of strength in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Chances are there would be understanding between the two parties. It is also likely that she may have a different strategy in the Parliamentary polls of 2019. In the case of states, better representation in the assemblies would also mean better share in power if the so-called Mahaghatbhandan manages power.
However elections to the assemblies are yet to be announced. Once the Election Commission makes the announcement there could be better understanding and a spirit of accommodation due to peer pressure. Carrying all non-BJP parties together may make parties to take softer positions to avoid vote splits. The hope of defeating the BJP in the elections, particularly in the Parliamentary elections, could result in a mind-change even among the divided groups.
The political scenario is also changing. The rise in prices, failure to fulfill promises, the unchecked loot of the banks by businessmen and growing unemployment have all affected the image of the NDA government at the Centre. The Rafale deal has raised doubts in the minds of the masses as the details of the deal, particular the price of the aircraft and the reasons for keeping out HAL in favour of Reliance group (Anil Ambani), which are not in any way affecting the security of the nation, continue to be a mystery. Secrecy and lack of transparency are affecting the clean image of NDA.
Given the shifting political situation, the position of the opposition looks promising at present. There could be more clarity after the state assembly polls. State specific political positions could be worked out on the basis of the mood of the people. There is no denial that it is not easy to carry everyone together. There could be problems as non-BJP political formation is a collection of groups with varying objectives, conflicting interests and a lot of contradictions as well as leaders with clashing ambitions. But the probability of share in power, with the weakening position of BJP, is powerful glue to stick together.
To write the epitaph of Mahaghatbhandan is too early in the fast changing political situation. The interests of the leaders in the opposition appear to be converging. The morale of the opposition is distinctly different today, from desperation to hope. To rule out an alliance in the Parliamentary polls, however loose it may be between the opposition parties, is premature at present merely on the basis of BSP-JCC understanding in Chhattisgarh.