Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Importance of Being Left



T
he massive Indian General Election is halfway through. The five-phased Lok Sabha polls, which commenced on April 16, are entering the fourth phase on Thursday. The last and fifth phase of polls will be on May 13. With just ten days left for the results, it’s still unclear about the party or coalition that will come to power at the Centre. Borrowing Bollywood Badshah Shah Rukh Khan dialogue “picture abhi bhi baki hai,” which simply means the action is not concluded, it will be continued till the ballots are counted on May 16.

The ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which looked confident enough to form next government, is losing its ground with all top leaders calling for post-poll alliance with the Left parties. Congress plunged into pessimism when its key allies Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal and Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janasakthi Party deserted UPA. It was a heavy blow that shook the grand old Indian party and its chief Sonia Gandhi. It made Congress to come out in open seeking support from its former ally in 2004 government.

The first among the olive leaves was an inviting note from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself. The Congress was compelled to realise that only Left parties are reliable in crucial political situations. If it was not for Indo-US Nuclear Deal, the Left-Congress alliance might have seen completing UPA’s five-year term. 

Though pulling out its support to UPA on grounds of nuclear deal is justifiable, there is also a possibility of Left dreaming of making a government of its own at the Centre. And Communist party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat, who is often blamed for dashing the hopes of veteran Jyoti Basu becoming the first Communist Prime Minister of the country in 1996, became instrumental in the fall of UPA on July 9, 2008. And now Karat himself said, “The Left is not keen to scrap Indo-US Nuclear deal, but they may seek modifications.”

Bygones are bygones. Now, once again Congress is much in need of CPI-M, though it is contesting alone just in 59 seats of the total 543 parliamentary seats. What makes a national party like Congress seek the support of Marxists? Definitely, it is their secular and pro-people policies. Congress as well as the Left bastion know very well that if they want to keep the communal Bharatiya Janata Party away from power, the two should walk hand-in-hand as single party rule has become a mirage now. The hard fact is that Congress or Communists cannot even dream of making a government of their own.

But, why not make an alliance before election? Congress with its feudal mentality and Communists with its proletariat thinking look like an oxymoron combination. With this ideological difference how can an alliance be made before polls. Eye washing the ordinary people and party sympathisers, both parties  brilliantly avoided stains of an unholy relationship till the issue of assuming power arrives. And the citizens have started to accept that all ideological differences will vanish before a marriage of convenience for power which was justified with an alibi of keeping out communal BJP out of power.

With just ten days left to see the grand finale of month-long democratic exercise, Congress, BJP and Left parties are busy exuding confidence. Though Congress is shadowed by fear of failure, like a country boxer who boasts before his strong opponent, Congress is boasting of getting the magic number 272 which enable them to form the government. At the same time they say, the doors are open for all, except BJP. First Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the clarion call. Then Pranab Mukherjee and now Rahul Gandhi.  But the Left parties are as defiant as before. They are going ahead with Third Front calculations.

When the Third Front was launched on March 12 at Dobbespet in Karnataka, Congress and BJP ridiculed it as a combination politically insignificant. Later, both realised role the Left-regional parties amalgamation is going to play after the elections. BJP ended its initial rhetoric and Congress began to say again and again that its doors are open not only for the Leftists, but for all. This in turn boosted the Left parties as well as the regional parties who feared a shaky platform of Third Front.

Congress and BJP now realise that the Third Front is not just a medley of Left parties like CPI-M, Communist party of India (CPI), Revolutionary Socialist party (RSP), Forward Bloc, or discrete and incompatible elements like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati, Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK of Jayalalithaa), Biju Janata Dal (BJD) of Naveen Patnaik, Janata Dal -Secular (JD-S) of HD Deve Gowda, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) of Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) of K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

So Congress may vie to pull out regional parties who do not strongly stand for ideology unlike Left parties. Because, Congress is sure of Left position after election. However hard they try, the Left may manage to win only seats between 35- 45 which makes them nowhere near the absolute majority. What Karat and his bastion dream of is accumulating BSP, ADMK and BJD seats which are definitely decisive in the government formation by any alliance. Though Mayawati’s BSP is contesting in 500 seats across the country, as known to all, 80 seats of her own land Uttar Pradesh is the key player in any government formation. Moreover, the BSP supremo who eyes on Prime Minister chair is unpredictable and may even quit Left-sponsored Third Front to make her dream come true.

The chance of Congress inviting Maya is a big NO. But that cannot be said of BJP who is vainly trying to assume office at the Centre. BJP who is pretty confident of winning nearly 200 seats, in that case may join hand with Mayawati who could easily win 50-60 seats and will be able to form government winning the support of Jayalalithaa or Chandrababu Naidu or other regional parties. If this happens, the dreams of Left having a non-Congress, non-BJP government will be dashed. And for Congress it will be seeing a communal force as the supreme rulers of the country.

It is vivid that the role of Left parties is not just confined to the number of seats. They have a big responsibility of uniting a nation which is going into fragmentation of parties and ideas in the wake of election which in long term will harm the country.

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