A bad idea

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Oct 2018 11:42:40


THAT an omnibus front of all Opposition parties in the country is not a good idea, was one opinion that prevailed among political observers. But the decision of Ms. Mayawati to cruise along a lone electoral path proves that the Mahagathbandhan is a bad idea. For, what Ms. Mayawati has actually done is something that leaders of many other parties were contemplating for long, almost simultaneously with the two dinner parties Congress leader Mrs. Sonia Gandhi organised a few months ago at her residence in New Delhi.

Most parties seem to abhor the idea that Congress President Mr. Rahul Gandhi could be the prime ministerial candidate for the Mahagathbandhan. So when most parties got together at the swearing-in ceremony of Mr. H.D. Kumaraswami in Bengaluru, there was very visible mutual back-slapping among the leaders. But keen observers sensed a fair bit of back-stabbing as well. And in that activity of back-stabbing Ms. Mayawati was a sly leader. That was the genesis of her decision that she declared now. In that manner, she has pressed an ominous trigger.

When the Congress leadership started efforts to stitch together a larger front, it was a leader of Mr. Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party asserting that his party did not relish the idea of Mr. Rahul Gandhi as a prime ministerial candidate. Quick on the heel was Ms. Mamta Bannerjee of Trinamul Congress airing a similar viewpoint. Right then, that is just out of the Sonia dinners, the fate of the proposed Mahagathbandhan got sealed more or less. Ms. Mayawati’s decision, thus, comes as one more endorsement of the near-impossibility of an omnibus front of all Opposition parties.

Difficulties are galore in any such effort. For, most of these Opposition outfits have only a semblance of a common ideology -- like a half-baked idea of secularism and national unity. Most of these parties also have only regional influences, and each of them wants to have forays into other people’s domains. So, the only common minimum programme for all of them is to make the best possible seat adjustments before elections. And that is one area that is going to bomb all efforts of a united front. For, none of the parties is willing to give up its primacy in any given area. When the talks flounder at such an early stage, the Mahagathbandhan is next to impossible.

On the other side of the divide is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), too, cannot boast of a complete ideological unity among the components. Yet, the solidity that the BJP gives to the NDA is something unique and the Opposition put together does not have an effective answer to it. Not only does the BJP present the picture of a cogent ideological monolith but it also boasts of a well-oiled, nationwide party organisation and electorally-driven system of operations that no other party can even think of.

Mahagathbandhan will ultimately get formed somehow, perhaps in time for seat-adjustment. But its nature would never be as cogent as that of the NDA, the biggest impediment being the massive egos Opposition leaders nurse, unwilling to listen to wise counsel of others, and agreeing for a common minimum programme. For, the disagreement in the top rung of Opposition leadership starts from the point of prime ministership (as if they are sure to win the poles). And down the road, at every step of the way, there are only disagreements. It could, thus, be anybody’s guess what sort of Mahagathbandhan it is going to be.

On the other side, here is the NDA led by a super-hero Mr. Narendra Modi in a great partnership of a super-manager Mr. Amit Shah. And then there is massive public opinion that brooks no comparison of Mr. Modi with anyone else. Against this, Mahagathbandhan appears to be a patently bad idea.